SAP Conference Leaves Audience Wanting More



BERLIN--At its annual European user conference, SAP was selling mySAP.com as a significant E-commerce play for the software vendor, but not everyone was buying. SAP is under fire for being an Internet laggard, and its protestations this week that mySAP.com has evolved from a marketing concept to a viable product line didn't change matters much.

Overall, the conference has underwhelmed some attendees, who lament SAP's lack of marketing prowess and its defensive posture as it struggles to become an E-commerce player.

Company execs admit they have been troubled by delays in delivering some components--particularly customer-relationship management products--and acknowledge that SAP has development limits. They say they're addressing these problems in part with a more aggressive partnering strategy that includes, in some cases, using competitors fill product gaps. Last month's agreement to resell call-center software from Clarify Inc., a CRM competitor, is one example.

SAP co-chairman Hasso Plattner says the company's not giving up, just taking a new tack. "Application software is exploding," he says. No matter what we do, we will never be able to cover everything. [But] that doesn't mean we give up on our own development."

SAP is expected to announce an alliance with Commerce One Inc. in the coming weeks. Though neither company will comment on the deal, analysts speculate that they may agree to jointly deliver marketplace software. The purported deal calls for SAP to increase its 1% equity stake in Commerce One. Both are trying to find a better position against an online marketplace alliance between IBM, i2 Technologies, and Ariba.

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