Casual Users Beginning to EnjoySAP

When SAP AG (<A HREF="http://www.sap.com/">www.sap.com</A>) launched the EnjoySAP initiative last September, it began a worldwide effort to change the face of R/3 and unveil its technologies to the non-technical corporate user.

When SAP AG (www.sap.com) launched the EnjoySAP initiative last September, it began a worldwide effort to change the face of R/3 and unveil its technologies to the non-technical corporate user. Those efforts culminated last month as the ERP giant demonstrated redesigned, Web-portal interfaces to its traditional applications at its Palo Alto, Calif., labs.

The first application to use the EnjoySAP interface will be SAP Business-to-Business Procurement, due for release this month. "What companies want is to let their employees procure items themselves and handle the entire process," says Peter Barth, technology marketing manager at SAP. From ordering, to shipping, to tracking and receiving, Barth says this application allows the casual user to do it on their own.

By streamlining the interface, SAP is bringing its technology out of the ivory tower and into the cubicles. SAP hopes to end the days of IT professionals and power users being the only ones to take advantage of the powerful software. Now everyone from the payroll clerk to the customer service representative will have an opportunity to take advantage of high-end business applications. Those same new users can also tailor the suite to their needs.

"Personalization is part of the three-step approach to making the user a VIP," Barth says. "First you give the user a visual interface, next you give them an interactive design and then you provide them with personalization features."

EnjoySAP isn't just about product releases, however, says Susanne Labonne, [don't have a title yet] at SAP. It's also about a new direction for SAP as a whole. "This is a new quality standard for our company to meet," Labonne explains.

As part of the EnjoySAP initiative, SAP is continuing to move more parts of the R/3 package on to the Web. IT workers will still use the client/server applications for speedier protocols, but the Web-based application is in line with the move to gain more users for SAP, especially those on the road. EnjoySAP’s interfaces for existing modules of R/3 are due for release in version 4.6 in the third quarter, as is SAP Employee Self Service, an application focused on job roll functions throughout the enterprise.

By then the industry will know if these applications are easy enough for the non-technical user. "I don't think any app is easy enough for the casual user," says Steve Bonadio, senior analyst with the Hurwitz Group (www.hurwitz.com). "By making [SAP] look better, it's definitely going to have a quick ability to move on."

Bonadio says there won't be a problem with traditional users losing any functionality. "This is just a vehicle to broaden [SAP's] functionality," Bonadio explains. "It may look a little different, but SAP hasn't really changed anything." What SAP does have, according to Bonadio, is a huge jump on a market it already dominates. Currently competitors such as PeopleSoft Inc. (www.peoplesoft.com) and Baan Co. (www.baan.com) have no similar initiatives.