SAP Delivers Global Trade Services

First up, a compliance-management tool that automates license management and embargo checking for international customers.

SAP America Inc. recently introduced SAP Global Trade Services (GTS), a stand-alone application that it says can help international companies manage the risks and responsibilities associated with global trade.

In late October, SAP introduced the first component of GTS, Compliance Management, which manages the compliance issues associated with international trade to automate screening for sanctioned parties, license management and embargo checking. The company says that it will introduce two additional GTS modules.

According to Neetin Datar, head of market strategy for SAP GTS, international companies today face a variety of challenges in trading globally—especially in the post 9/11 world. “The main concerns are around security, [because] in doing global or international trade, there are new regulations, so companies are very interested to make sure that they’re complying with these trade regulations.”

Randy Street, SAP product manager for GTS, points out that post-9/11, the United States Office of Foreign Access Control (OFAC) has sanctioned U.S. companies against doing business with more than 7500 individuals and organizations in the United States and internationally. In addition, Street says, companies must adhere to Bureau of Information and Security (BIS) requirements regarding exports. “The point is that certain materials are regulated by the government. For example, new and used export technology materials are regulated in the high-tech industry. If you ship a computer, the computer itself is regulated down to the clock-speed of the microprocessor.”

For companies that violate either the OFAC or BIC blacklists, Street observes, the punishment can be severe. “The fines or penalties for non-compliance are huge these days, and can include imprisonment. Obviously, companies don’t want the embarrassment of showing up on the evening news for this.“

That’s where GTS enters the picture, Datar says. “In a gist, what [we do] for these companies is to ensure vigilant trade compliance, and in doing so, the companies are actually facilitating tighter national security.”

GTS is a stand-alone product that’s actually an aggregation of several separate SAP technologies. The company’s R/3 ERP suite, for example, once featured a foreign trade component that was limited to specific vertical applications. GTS, Datar explains, “was completely re-written and re-architected [from the existing R/3 foreign trade solution] with lots of new functionality, and it sits on top of a stack [that includes] a Web application server.”

GTS is tied at the platform level to a Web application server, an arrangement that Street says enhances its cross-platform story for customers. ”Our customers are telling us is that they need a supply management system that works with all of their heterogeneous systems, so we want to make sure that SAP GTS is sitting in its own box and is able to interoperate with all of these different systems.”

SAP GTS is available for a variety of Unix platforms, as well as for Windows 2000 and for several distributions of Linux.

In the future, Datar confirms, SAP will introduce two additional Global Trade Services modules, SAP Customs Management, which facilitates interactions between companies and customs agencies, and SAP Risk Management, which provides mechanisms to make sure that parties involved in international trade adhere to their contractual obligations.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.