Shifting To The Edge, SAP Coins Phrase: Enterprise 2.1 - InformationWeek

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6/19/2007
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Shifting To The Edge, SAP Coins Phrase: Enterprise 2.1

The evolution will be defined by user control over how these things work together, one executive said.

If Enterprise 2.0 is a desktop gadget showing sales or a blog on corporate policy, its evolution will be defined by user control over how these things work together, said Dennis Moore, SAP's general manager for emerging solutions, at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston on Tuesday.

There's even an SAP-coined name for this secondary shift. Though Enterprise 2.0 is just emerging as a catchword, here comes SAP with another: Enterprise 2.1.

Enterprise 2.0, let alone 2.1 (ick) is a big shift for a company like SAP that deals so heavily in standardized, often locked down corporate processes. "Information work is impacting all economies," Moore said. "That's not necessarily the best thing for SAP. Over time, we've automated a lot of the task work. We've started to move outwards from just the task work to the edge processes [like CRM and supply relationship management] and Enterprise 2.0 is really at the edge where it's about collaboration as well as business efficiency."

Moore raised the example of a partner who wanted to create a way of reserving a conference room inside an SAP app, and thought it should be simple. For SAP, it wasn't at all. First, the system has to make sure the people invited have access to that conference room, that the meeting has a way to be recorded and journaled, and that the room is even open.

So how can SAP play a role? Say a company gets an alert that a batch of products failed quality testing, but that it has already been shipped. Even SAP doesn't have all the tools necessary for robust recall management, according to Moore. His team took that thought, that SAP can't do it all, and developed a test application, "SAP Smart Workspace," that takes core functionalities of SAP and puts them into a list of Web parts that users themselves can piece together in a sort of mash-up of SAP elements to do, say a financial analysis or compliance audit of the recall, or of any other general project SAP might not be able to handle alone without a long development process to tweak the software.

"Nobody at SAP designed the scenario or built this functionality to manage the recall," Moore said. "We just built the framework and enabled some metadata around it. Instead of my IT group building this in 12 months or SAP building it 60 months, I can just do it myself."

Moore didn't shy away from skepticism about SAP's credibility in a world dominated by technologies that got their start as being easy to use and even fun. It'll be a challenge for SAP to play a heavy role in this shift. Said Moore, tongue firmly implanted in cheek; "Normally, the first thing you associate with SAP is, you know, fun."

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