SAP has taken the wraps off the next version of its software as a service ERP, Business ByDesign.
Version 4.0 marks something of a departure for Business ByDesign: it will be the last version bearing a number.
Rather than big bang releases, SAP will roll out incremental updates around every three months in the future, which the company claims will allow it respond more quickly to customer requests. The change signals a speeding up of Business ByDesign's development cycle: version 3.0 was launched around a year ago, in August 2011.
Version 4.0 sees over 800 separate tweaks to functionality, including new elements for the service, manufacturing and distribution industries. For the latter, SAP has improved Business ByDesign's ability to combine both products and services on projects, which links material in sales orders to project tasks, while enhancements for manufacturing and distribution include support for customers that manage and track onsite and in-house repair scenarios.
SAP also intends to enable key users to customise how Business ByDesign processes, including time and expense, CRM and reporting, appear on their mobile devices.
Business ByDesign version 4.0 will be available from this August and introduces a SDK to allow users to customise the product. As part of the kit, SAP will provide developers with various capabilities, including web services, which will allow the add-on to exchange information with existing SAP or third-party cloud applications while reusable building blocks - known as templates - are being introduced to enable developers to create customer-specific add-ons faster.
SAP will also provide a localisation kit for companies wanting to create country-specific content. The localisation kits won't not necessarily bring local language support but rather integrate the countries' financial and legal requirements.
In addition, version 4.0 will see Business ByDesign brought to four new countries: Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The ERP suite was already available in China, France, Germany, India, UK, US, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico and Australia.
These expansions of the supported countries were requested by enterprise customers who use Business ByDesign to link subsidiaries to their central SAP ERP.
"Two-tier ERP is the new trend," also known as hub and spoke, according to Chris Horak, global VP of cloud product marketing at SAP. While Lufthansa is already using the two-tier approach, SAP is also targeting SMEs. "Two years ago SME customers were skeptical about cloud solutions. This has now changed totally," says Horak.
Along with Business ByDesign , SAP has staked out its cloud territory with two notable acquisitions of late: SuccessFactors, which focuses on human capital management (HCM), and Ariba cloud-based business commerce network.
While customers want to combine the implementation of SuccessFactors and Business ByDesign, it's a different story for Business ByDesign and SAP's high-end in-memory database HANA: "Only enterprise customers who have to analyze huge amounts of data consider such a pairing. For SMB customers, the analytics capabilities of Business ByDesign are sufficient," Horak said.
According to SAP, demand is growing for Business ByDesign in upper midmarket companies and subsidiaries of larger ones, leading to a quarter on quarter increase in software revenue of 60 per cent for Business ByDesign.