Last week SAP unveiled its new ERP upgrade, called Business Suite 7. As part of the launch event in New York City, the company invited several enterprise software bloggers to meet with Jennifer Allerton, CIO of Roche and a large SAP customer.
You can listen to the meeting by clicking the podcast player located at the top of this post.
The discussion was interesting for several reasons:
- As CIO of an organization employing 75,000 people in 120 countries, Jennifer is responsible for running a huge IT infrastructure. This conversation offers insight into the CIO's view of a large-scale IT operation.
- SAP purposefully did not include any of its own folks in the room to ensure the conversation would be open and without restriction.
- Enterprise bloggers are a tough and sometimes ornery group; the podcast recording lets you be a fly on the wall while seven bloggers ask hard questions of this CIO.
Aside from me, the following bloggers participated in the session:
I've pulled out some key quotes from the conversation.
On Business Suite 7:
Business Suite 7 is a really good evolutionary step.
With previous SAP versions, every technical upgrade took 3-6 months and 15 people. Last year, we did four upgrades, which is roughly the equivalent of 15 man-years. With the new modular approach in Business Suite 7, we can reduce that time and redeploy those people to do things that are more important. That's the big difference.
New Business Suite 7 deployments involve normal system implementation with all the change processes and job redesign that entails.
On social media:
We're still in that relatively early phase of trying to understand how it works.
On working with system integrators:
I do believe the old $50 million a year integration model is dead; the challenge is for the systems integrators to reinvent themselves in this new world. The old Accenture model, where you trained [inexperienced] consultants for many months on your dollar, just doesn't work anymore. The hardest thing is to get the consultants out at the end of the project, because they try and hang around as much as possible.
We do use external consultants very successfully, because you can't have all the skills in-house.
- Related: SAP’s Apotheker takes on shoddy consultants, certifications
- Related: The ERP devil’s triangle
I absolutely welcome approaches toward certification; otherwise, it can be hit or miss. Anything that helps you identify the really good people and get them on board quicker has got to be a good thing.
[Photo of Jennifer Allerton via Cisco.]