SAP, Microsoft Detail Plans for Duet

SAP and Microsoft executives use the Sapphire stage to outline their plans for Duet 2.0 and 3.0.

ATLANTA—At SAPs Sapphire user conference here April 24, executives from SAP and Microsoft laid out the road map for the next iterations of Duet, a joint development project to expose SAPs business processes and data in Microsofts Office environment.

Both companies plan to work together to develop scenarios—processes such as time-off requests—platform capabilities and development tools that will, in turn, help users develop their own scenarios.

This isnt the first time executives from both companies have outlined plans for the future when it comes to Duet, but it is the first time a Microsoft executive has stepped out at an SAP event to detail—to a limited extent—follow-on versions to the 1.0 release that came out last year.

Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division overseeing the companys Information Worker Group and the Microsoft Business Solutions Group, took the stage during SAP Deputy CEO Leo Apothekers keynote address April 24 to outline plans for Duet 2.0 and 3.0.

Raikes said Version 2.0, due sometime next year, will have an expanded number of scenarios, including sales management, support for lead and opportunity management, and product and supply planning in supply chain management.

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"We will not only deepen capabilities but broaden support for government regulations and compliance and resource management," in 2.0, said Raikes.

Duet 3.0 will come after a couple of conditions are met, namely after SAP updates its namesake Business Suite and Microsoft ships its Office 14 release. Duet will build on those two releases, particularly with integration to SharePoint Server. That integration will enable Duet 3.0 users to tap both structured and unstructured data. Users will also have access to Microsofts development tools in SharePoint Server so they can customize existing scenarios and build their own.

SAP has had some success with Duet: About 400,000 licenses have been sold in less than a year. Microsoft, however, could be stepping on its own toes by enabling SAP users—particularly those in the midmarket—to be able to work on SAP applications in the Office environment. Microsoft sells its own brand of ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications with its Dynamics line of software (a clear leg up Microsoft has is its inroads with users already familiar with Office and Outlook; the company claims it has 500 million PCs loaded with Office). Microsoft has already developed a Duet-like set of integrations between Office and Dynamics—Snaps launched in 2006—that lets Office users access data in some Dynamics applications.

Raikes said during a press conference April 24 that "the Dynamics group is also looking at how the Officer user experience can enhance access to Dynamics. [But] the most important point today is the leadership both companies are taking together to open up the value to SAP customers."

Apotheker had a more telling response to the potential clash between SAP applications—which have a 65 percent penetration in the midmarket, according to SAP—and Dynamics applications.

"We will meet them in the market and ace a fair, honest competition," said Apotheker. "It will not have any impact on Duet."

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