IBM, Others Partner with SAP on Business Suite 7

IBM, Atos Origin, Capgemini and Wipro join SAP as launch partners for SAP Business Suite 7, providing consulting resources and participating in a product ramp-up. SAP Business Suite 7, slated for general adoption in the summer of 2009, will allow businesses to streamline their operational performance while reducing their IT overhead, SAP says.

NEW YORK-With representatives from launch partners including IBM in attendance, SAP unveiled SAP Business Suite 7, designed to help companies create and manage efficient and flexible business processes at lower cost, in a Feb. 4 presentation at its headquarters here.

IBM and SAP have a long collaboration record, most recently with their joint creation of Alloy, a messaging and collaboration enterprise application due in March.

SAP has positioned its new modular software library as a boon to companies wrestling with the economic crisis, citing Business Suite 7's ability to streamline everyday business processes while saving IT administrative costs.

SAP is no stranger to products designed to help companies save money; on Feb. 2, SAP announced a partnership with Landis+Gyr on software developed to shave costs for energy utilities.

SAP Business Suite 7 took 15 months to develop, was released for ramp-ups on Nov. 21, 2008, and is expected to undergo general adoption in summer of 2009.

IBM, Capgemini, Wipro and Atos Origin have been participating in the ramp-up, and will provide certified consulting resources and co-marketing activities as Business Suite 7 rolls out to a broader base of users.

"We believe this is the future of enterprise computing," L??«o Apotheker, co-CEO of SAP, said before the demo. "We actually have a vision of how business should evolve in the future: We believe that the world is evolving toward business networks."

According to SAP, Business Suite 7's "enhancement packages," which allow users to cherry-pick which functionalities they need without upgrading an entire solution, are key in reducing IT costs.

Business Suite 7 also offers "value scenarios" that provide users with end-to-end business processes that can be implemented step by step to improve efficiency and overcome problems. "Value scenarios" include integrated product development, which demonstrates SAP Business Suite 7's ability to seamlessly enact processes across multiple parts of a company, SAP said.

As an example of this, SAP showed the audience Business Suite 7's user dashboard screen, which displayed metrics such as revenue and profit over time, and even what customers are Twittering about a product.

In the example, the software's user, a maker of GPS devices, noticed a rising amount of Twitter chatter about the company's latest product having a faulty viewscreen. Using SAP software, the GPS maker clicked over to an engineering screen to look at the product component and identify the problem; and from there moved on to sales, finance and supply-side management to actually correct the situation.

This integration of analytical and process applications can allow decision makers to respond quickly to things that aren't working, potentially saving time and revenue.

Business Suite 7 can also help users capture new opportunities via SOA (service-oriented architecture). In the demo example, a retail territory manager in California used a dashboard to analyze the ZIP code around the retail company's stores for pockets of high-income households. The user then created a 'Welcome campaign,' complete with a coupon for the store, and had it mailed to the target group chosen through that earlier data mining. Afterward, the user clicked back to the dashboard to see revenue rising.

"What the CEO gets is an end-to-end business process," Apotheker said.

If Business Suite 7, with its focus on optimizing business performance and increasing IT savings, appeals to customers looking for ways to save costs in the current economic environment, that's mostly a happy coincidence for SAP. When the company started developing the software suite at the end of 2006, it was following its own long-term trend toward systems that take advantage of value and modular, piecemeal consumption.

"After Lehman Brothers collapsed on Sept. 15, we didn't suddenly decide to build things that were relevant," Richard Campione, SAP senior vice president of suite solution management for CRM on demand, said in an interview. "But the economic situation plays into where we've been trending for years."