SAP SAPPHIRE: the extended prequel

SAPPHIRE, SAP's annual customer bash, is but a few weeks away yet we pretty much know what's going to be on show. Here's what to expect.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor on

SAPPHIRE, SAP's annual customer bash, is but a few weeks away yet we pretty much know what's going to be on show.

Rather than the usual round of 'behind closed doors' embargoed and NDA'd discussions, SAP is going out of its way to get analysts, commenters and pretty much anyone with a barrel of ink to say nice things about what it is delivering. The good news is that what it will show is either ready to go or very close. For anyone with a jaded SAP palette, this will be a shock. Over the years we have been fed a diet of promises but little else. This time around customers may be tempted into opening their wallets sooner rather than later. Here is what you can expect:

Sales On-Demand - SAP's take on sales force automation but viewed from the seat of sales people at and in work. Late in the game for sure but approached from a very different angle to others. More on demand solutions being promised before the year's end that will follow the SalesOD design led principle.

Business ByDesign - now at version 2.6, SAP will likely showcase customers using the solution. It will report more than 400 customers and express optimism about more than 1,000 before the year is out. They are already talking about what happens when they have 10,000 customers, opening up new data centers and fleshing out the partner ecosystem. The SDK is deep and rich with functionality. Not for SAP the simple REST API but a visual developer toolkit that will keep developers engaged. Version 3.0 is not far away with masses of new functionality.

HANA - SAP's short term cash cow that exploits in-memory database for opening up new classes of application for global businesses. Expect to hear customers talking enthusiastically.

Mobile everywhere - less has been said about this in recent times but SAP is finally going beyond its infatuation with iPad and analytics. Where it places its bets will stimulate a lot of discussion. The mobile market is a rat's nest and hardly a week goes by without one or other platform jockeying for position. SAP has the resources to cover all the bases but just how far it goes remains to be seen.

Sybase powered BusinessSuite - Sybase may be a relatively tiny player in the database market but is incredibly sticky where it plays well and especially in financial services. Expect to see demos of the BusinessSuite running on Sybase as a precursor to SAP attempting to oust Oracle in those markets. It has a good shot provided it can make the transition as painless as possible. It will certainly play up the TCO argument.

Sustainability applications - SAP is finally moving beyond 'more accounting' into areas like pro-active risk management. Expect to see apps that address the very real threats that impact business and which otherwise contribute to a zombie economy. Whether we see customers actively expressing support is unknown.

Have I missed anything? I hope so. It would be good to see SAP surprise with something truly delightful but in all honesty I don't know. What I do expect though is a renewed buzz that finally puts to bed SAP's most recent dark past.

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