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6/15/2009
00:15 AM
Bob Evans
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SAP Turns To SaaS 'To Avoid Extinction,' Says BusinessWeek

A Google News search on "SAP" turned up this headline attributed to BusinessWeek: "SAP hits on-demand SaaS button to avoid extinction." But that silly headline and equally silly article weren't written by BusinessWeek - they appeared on a new BusinessWeek site where readers post stories from other sites. With outcomes like this, is SAP the one that should be worried about extinction?

A Google News search on "SAP" turned up this headline attributed to BusinessWeek: "SAP hits on-demand SaaS button to avoid extinction." But that silly headline and equally silly article weren't written by BusinessWeek - they appeared on a new BusinessWeek site where readers post stories from other sites. With outcomes like this, is SAP the one that should be worried about extinction?First of all, here's the straight story instead of tabloid pulp on SAP and SaaS: as InformationWeek's Mary Hayes Weier reported last week, SAP has been developing SaaS versions of its products non-stop for a few years but has yet to settle on a combination of features, technologies, price points, and across-the-board business model that will allow it to effectively manage both its traditional hosted business and the under-development SaaS products.

As Hayes Weier wrote, "Across the company, SAP's on-demand apps management team looks like this: Wookey's title is executive VP of large enterprise on-demand, reporting to Jim Hagemann Snabe, who heads up software development at SAP and sits on SAP's executive board; Peter Lorenz, who heads up development for SME On-Demand, including the Business ByDesign suite; and Marge Breya, general manager of BusinessObjects, who also oversees BusinessObjects On-Demand."

While it is certainly essential for SAP to find the right formula for blending its traditional business with the SaaS model, the BusinessWeek headline was silly at best and dangerously misleading at worst. And as I read it, I wondered what made the generally straight-thinking folks at BusinessWeek wander so far into the land of make-believe and hyperbole.

So I clicked on the link and was taken to a new site that is part of BusinessWeek and is called "BusinessExchange," touted thusly: "Join Business Exchange to access the most relevant content for you, filtered by like-minded business professionals." So the story wasn't written by BusinessWeek, but it was posted on this new BusinessWeek offshoot called BusinessExchange (carrying a "Beta" tag) where readers can post articles for each other.

Okay, nothing wrong with that in theory, but theory takes a back seat to reality when misleading headlines accompanied by sensational prose are posted on a site that's supposed to stand for high-level, carefully edited business journalism. Check out this opening sentence from the "BusinessWeek" story about SAP trying to ward off extinction:

"SAP, in a spectacular U-turn, has leapt on board the software-as-a-service bandwagon - the company confirmed its new selling strategy yesterday."

Oh my - does anyone know what type of vehicle SAP was driving when it made the spectacular U-turn before leaping tall buildings in a single bound to land on the software-as-a-services bandwagon as it pushed the SaaS button to avoid extinction? C'mon, BusinessWeek, don't leave us hanging!

Darn it, there I go again - I keep forgetting that while BusinessWeek's name is on the story, it's really not from BusinessWeek. Rather, BusinessWeek has a beta site that carries stuff from other news sites and puts the BusinessWeek name above those stories, regardless of how breathlessly out of touch they may be. The one in question above can be found here at ChannelRegister.com.

And to give full credit where it's been earned, the reader who posted the SAP-hopes-to-avoid-extinction story to Business Exchange is Ed Enciso, whose attached biography says this: "Disruptive technologies enthusiast, Internet business models adopter, social media, SaaS & cloud computing evangelist, digital content addict, and restless entrepreneur."

I've got to wonder: what will the folks at SAP think when they see a story carrying the BusinessWeek name with this headline: "SAP hits on-demand SaaS button to avoid extinction"?

I think BusinessWeek might want to execute a spectacular U-turn with this BusinessExchange idea and hit the "reader-value button" as it leaps back onto the integrity and accuracy bandwagon and maybe considers that Business Exchange should not avoid extinction.

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