The Engine vs. Electronics Debate – Has the core of SAP really changed with BS7?

Please SAP, rev my engine!!!!(more from the SAP Business Suite 7 announcement)A number of the Enterprise Irregulars met with Richard Campione, SAP Solution Management, at the Business Suite 7 (BS7) press announcement.
Written by Brian Sommer, Contributor

Please SAP, rev my engine!!!!

(more from the SAP Business Suite 7 announcement)

A number of the Enterprise Irregulars met with Richard Campione, SAP Solution Management, at the Business Suite 7 (BS7) press announcement. Richard works for Jim Hagemann Snabe at SAP.

Richard was asked whether SAP has changed the core of its product line as part of this new offering. We learned that:

- this is the largest release in SAP’s history - SAP has brought together some of the best parts of other products and product lines in BS7 - SAP sees this as a new, engineered suite not a glued together suite (i.e., of acquired products) and not just a branding of a suite (i.e., a marketecture).

Richard then offered up an analogy that used the evolution of automobiles as a way of understanding how the SAP product lines have changed over time. His analogy is that the basic drivetrain of automobiles (i.e., the engine and transmission are two key components) hasn’t changed much over time but the electronics that surround them have changed substantially. BS7 represents the ‘electronics’ surrounding the SAP 6.0 ERP engine.

The analogy may be illustrative but it does have its flaws. Detroit doesn’t need to remodel cars that still use rear-wheel drive transmissions bolted to big block engines. In a time of constrained and expensive fuel, car makers need small engines with transverse mounted transmissions. The more progressive car makers, Toyota, Honda and Tesla for example, are using electric, LPG and other powerplants. The key point is that products, all products, have to be completely re-thought from time to time.

The old ERP software designs of the 1970s and beyond were predicated on limited IT resources. A constrained computing world was de rigueur until recently, but now, cloud computing, cheap memory, cheap disk storage, etc. are the new rules of an unconstrained, limitless new IT world. It’s time for software firms to re-imagine what a business (not finance, not HR, not ERP) solution should be. It’s time now because the new IT world presents massively new opportunities for businesses to use IT in ways never before possible.

That’s the missed opportunity: are ERP vendors delivering systems that take full advantage of all possibilities or are they innovating at the margins? Are they innovating around their existing big block engines or are they taking radically new positions about how businesses should work and what new technology should be developed to support the new business and new business IT?

Today’s announcement is still focused on the electronics around the powerplant. Hopefully, we’ll hear more on the future of business and business systems from SAP in the near future…

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