Field Report: SAP SAPPHIRE: The Year of NetWeaver

Analysis of the company's flagship event

The 2004 SAPPHIRE event in New Orleans did not occasion the release of any dramatic new strate-gies or direction for the world-class company. That is not a bad thing – it actually highlights one of the core strengths of SAP. SAP has been relentlessly building and delivering its products to the same vision it has embraced for some time now. NetWeaver is taking a prominent role within the product line and as an integration platform in its own right.

The Year of NetWeaver was a key theme of the event, and indeed it is crucial to SAP’s strategy over-all. The next year or so will demonstrate the willingness of the installed base to move to the new platform. If things go as planned, by the end of the year SAP will have about 1,000 installations robustly using NetWeaver. This is still a small fraction of the customer base, but achieving it will be a good indication that SAP’s strategy is sound. It will also generate a number of referenceable ac-counts to bolster sale in the ensuing period.

Adaptive Manufacturing was another key theme of SAPPHIRE. The introduction of the SAP Plant Manager Dashboard demonstrates that SAP is serious about extending its reach into the plant floor. With this product introduction (with June availability), SAP is delivering a solution that can inte-grate existing systems to provide a single view of the plant, and provides the Plant Manager with access to all pertinent data on a single dashboard. They are also delivering a clear message that they can and will compete at the plant floor level. Leveraging NetWeaver, the Plant Manager Dashboard (and other role-based versions already in the works) will primarily aggregate and present informa-tion to users, empowering them to manage and improve manufacturing performance. At SAPPHIRE, companies such as OSIsoft, IndX, and Lighthammer demonstrated their ability to serve up plant floor information to SAP’s Dashboard.

Another important manufacturing initiative was introduced at SAPPHIRE. SAP announced that it is addressing industrywide global concerns about the current lack of agreement in defined standards for connectivity between plant floor applications and manufacturing enterprise systems. SAP com-mitted to host a series of workshops with customers and plant floor ISVs, culminating with an industry summit on standards to be held in conjunction with SAP’s technical education conference, SAP TechEd, in October 2004.

Service and Asset Management is another area where SAP is clearly increasing their focus. SAP has long had solutions that address end user needs in many areas of Service Management including Service Parts Inventory, Service Parts Logistics, Customer Service Management, Field Service Man-agement, Depot & Repair Center Management and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). But these capabilities were spread across a disparate collection of product suites (CRM, PLM, SCM and ERP). The new SAP strategy places responsibility for all Service Management functionality under a single Industry Business Unit (IBU), Service and Asset Management. This is consistent with ARC's view that Service and Asset Management is a business in its own right and deserves its own suite of solu-tions covering all stages of the process from the design and sales of service agreements to the management of service delivery for individual service events.

About the Author

ARC Advisory Group (www.ARCweb.com) is a Market Research, Advisory Service, and Consulting company.