SAP has a lot riding on this Business Suite 7 launch and it's pitching easier implementations, ROI in less than a year under certain conditions and an almost turnkey approach.
First, SAP says Business Suite 7--the company's new applications suite--is about analytics as well as enterprise planning. Jim Hagemann Snabe, the head of business solutions and technology at SAP, calls it "one of the most significant launches" in the company's history.
The Business Suite adds embedded processes and "value scenarios" that cover things like product design, component sourcing and manufacturing. Business Suite 7 includes preloaded processes based on various industries at the same price as the previous version. "We've really moved away from the big bang. We've moved from one decision to multiple decisions," said Snabe.
Also see: SAP adds enterprise 2.0 features to latest suite; Twitter meets ERP
But the big sell here is that Business Suite 7 will be easier to implement. SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker at the company's press conference either tagged one of the company's greatest sales lines ever or a "Mission Accomplished" moment on an aircraft carrier.
Apotheker said Business Suite 7 is about "innovation without scary upgrades and sleepless nights." "We're done with that," he said.
Oh really? Color me skeptical on this one. Why? Perhaps there are turnkey Business Suite implementations, but there are other parts of this implementation chain--notably systems integrators and the customer's management team. A lot can go wrong--and often does--in enterprise implementations. Meanwhile, companies customize SAP applications big time and that fact complicates upgrades. For instance, IBM vice president of enterprise business transformation Jeannette Horan says Big Blue has customized SAP to the point where upgrades are difficult. "Being an IT company we have never seen a problem we can't code around," she quipped.
That said, SAP does have some nice additions to Business Suite 7. SAP has added a few interface improvements that CIOs such as Horan say will help push enterprise data to more workers. SAP has been working on better interfaces for months via partnerships with Adobe and its acquisition of Business Objects. Colgate Palmolive CIO Ed Toben noted that easier to use enterprise apps can lead to "a lot better use around the whole company."
Note: When we're talking about enterprise applications we're not talking iPhone-ish user interfaces. This qualifies as a dramatic improvement:
Snabe also illustrated a concept dubbed "best run now packages." These packages build on existing best process practices, can be live in 1 to 3 months and deliver returns in less than a year. Snabe stopped short of saying Business Suite 7 cured cancer, but if the suite can deliver just half of what SAP is pitching it may be on to something.
How will SAP really lower costs and risk related to a Business Suite 7 implementation?