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7/27/2011
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Google Deal Lets SAP Customers Map Data

Google Maps meets SAP: Partnership includes exclusive mashup capabilities and discounted pricing for geospatial data.

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SAP has teamed up with Google to enable its customers to mashup data with the search giant's mapping capabilities so they can visually report on business conditions such as sales by territory, loan risk by region, or defaults by neighborhood.

SAP and Google have already collaborated to enable customers to plot data on Google Maps within the SAP Streamwork, BusinessObjects Explorer, and Crystal Reports interfaces. But those mashups use the publically available Google Maps application programming interfaces (APIs). Through a deeper partnership announced Wednesday, SAP customers will get discounts on Google geospatial data and improved integration capabilities though private Google APIs.

"It's still a mashup approach, but the private APIs will support tighter, industrial-strength integration with functionality not available from the public APIs," Jonathan Becher, SAP's executive vice president of marketing, said in an interview.

Using the private APIs, SAP customers will be able to upload and apply their own mapping information in areas where Google might not have geospatial information. This would enable a campus, industrial complex, or theme park to add more detailed information to Google's street-level view of their facilities. The private APIs also will deliver better performance and version-control capabilities not available through the public APIs, Becher said.

The possibilities for data mapping are endless. A bank grappling with foreclosures could mashup loan and foreclosure data with maps to see hot spots and trends by neighborhood. This could help the bank understand when and where to offer proactive interest-rate-reduction programs to avoid new defaults. A tax authority could overlay revenue information from a SAP app with Google Maps data to see income by state and county, or county, city, and township, making the largest and smallest parts of the tax base readily visible. Telecommunications providers could map data on dropped calls, revealing the biggest capacity and antenna reception problems.

These are all examples of pioneering mapping mashups that exist today. The promise of the Google partnership is that it will help SAP customers take the capability mainstream.

SAP said the private API will be made available later this year and will initially work with SAP BusinessObjects 4.0, the vendor's latest business intelligence platform set for release in August. SAP's Sales OnDemand app also will be integrated this year, but other on-demand apps and SAP's on-premises applications will have to wait until next year. Mobile access will extend to whatever devices are already supported by the underlying platform or application.

The Google mashup capabilities will be built into SAP's software and on-demand offerings, but it will have to be turned on as an optional service. SAP has yet to set the cost of the option, but Becher said there would be "substantial discounts" over buying Google geospatial information directly as a commercial customer.

The Google public API and geospatial information is free for personal use, but corporate customers pay fees for use of the data.

ERP is old news, but enhancing legacy software with mobile, analytics, and social apps can deliver substantial new value. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek: SaaS can create new data silos unless companies follow best practices to make those apps work with on-premises systems and data sources. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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