On day two, mobility was the topic on everyone’s lips. Also, we give you road maps for Sales OnDemand and ByDesign 3.0 & 3.5. This is SAP.info live.
On Tuesday morning, an outsider might have mistaken the keynote theater at SAPPHIRE NOW for the set of Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show. The show’s house band, The Max Weinberg 7, was on stage playing a bluesy musical intro that is familiar to any casual viewer of late-night shows. And off to the side, a desk and chairs were set up for the show’s host and guests.
In this case, the guests were SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe and the host was event moderator Carmen Wong Ulrich. This keynote was perhaps less cutting-edge than the previous day’s opening keynote, but in fact, the familiar sort of talk-show format fit the focus of the speech perfectly.
Both McDermott and Snabe emphasized the growing importance of connecting to people–customers, partners, potential customers–in their talks. How do you connect to people in the business world today? Primarily through mobile technologies.
Terabytes of unstructured data put to use
According to McDermott, business happens in the moment. You have to be able to deliver the right product at the right place with the right price and value to a customer, or else. If the customer is dissatisfied, millions of people find out about it.
The terabytes of information being collected on consumers’ online activities–from their social media activity to past purchases and frequent searches–could give businesses the information they need to accomplish this. But it requires technology to make sense of the unstructured data.
This is why in-memory computing is so essential to the future of business software. The analytic information enables companies to make products or offer services that are specifically tailored to customers’ needs and preferences. And more and more, those sales will be carried out on mobile devices where the information can be accessed from anywhere.
To demonstrate this, McDermott introduced Renee, a representative from AVON. The US cosmetics company is embarking on a program to equip their sales force with mobile devices that run SAP software. Renee showed the audience in a demo how she can call up the entire product catalog, see which items are out of stock, and view useful customer information from any location. This solution will help sales associates to build closer and more profitable relationships with their customers.
Connecting: Business people are people too
“Facebook and social media have shown us the power of connecting people, and now it’s time to connect business people,” said Snabe in his speech. That was the idea behind the new category of people centric-applications, such as SAP Sales On Demand, which was first announced at TechEd in 2010.
This application is designed around the way people work and helps them manage unstructured data. It allows them to quickly see the latest updates on a potential sale, such as the projected success rate or a changed meeting. SAP Business Suite and Business Analytics are integrated for a complete, informative overview of the customer.
Snabe also pointed to the next generation of the Sybase Unwired Platform 2.0. This version notably contains a software development kit so SAP partners and customers can build their own apps to suit their specific needs. Mobility and people-centric applications, as well as in-memory computing, will form the three main areas of focus for the next year.
On Premise, On Demand, On Device
And speaking of focus areas, what’s the status on last year’s promise to deliver SAP software on premise, on demand, and on device? Snabe gave a quick update on progress made since SAPPHIRE NOW 2010:
- On Premise: innovations for Business Suite, Business Analytics, and Business One and Business All-in-One. 40,000+ deals made since May 2010.
- On Demand: Business ByDesign has launched and enables SMEs to run their enterprise in the cloud. 500 deals made since May 2010. Admittedly, that sounds small but in fact, ByDesign is being adopted at double the rate that R/3 was.
- On Device: as of today, 4.5 billion mobile devices are connected through SAP technology. That’s 90% of the world’s mobile devices.
Capturing the sales rep persona: Sales OnDemand
The people-centric applications that Snabe focused on in his keynote start with SAP Sales OnDemand, which is based on the SAP Business ByDesign platform. ByDesign is the full suite on-demand solution geared toward the midmarket, while Sales OnDemand–and the other on-demand applications that will follow–are intended for mature organizations. Bill Hou, vice president for Sales OnDemand, said this is why the application has taken longer than desired to hit the market: “Our product has to meet the expectations of organized and mature sales forces,” he said.
Sales OnDemand is still in ramp-up, but the wait will soon be over. In an update session on the application, Peter Lorenz, responsible for on-demand solutions at SAP, shared the latest road map for Sales OnDemand and other on-demand solutions:
- Sales OnDemand version 1 becomes generally available at end of Q2 2011
- Sales OnDemand version 2 released in Q4 2011
- Sales OnDemand version 3 released in first half of 2012
- Travel OnDemand version 1 released in second half of 2011
- Career OnDemand (talent management) is next priority for line-of-business solution
Sales OnDemand: A Guided Tour
According to Bill Hou, SAP Sales OnDemand was created to suit the special characteristics of sales reps. “I don’t want to offend any sales guys here, but it’s generally accepted that sales reps hate spending any amount of time in an ERP application. And you know, they’re always multi-tasking,” Hou said.
Thus, the creation of functions like “quickview.” If you hover with the mouse over an account name or contact name, a small window pops up with basic information like phone numbers, addresses, and account dates. The “Feed” page was also created so sales rep could stay on top of accounts, contacts, opportunities, and needs at a glance. It’s something like the “Newsfeed” on Facebook. The productivity tool pane includes useful functions like the “Shelf” where you can store tasks that you want to address later.
Social media influenced other functions in Sales OnDemand as well. “When you follow or friend someone, you see what they post. We wanted to use that idea in Sales OnDemand, but instead of following people, you’re following data objects, accounts, leads, and opportunities,” explained Hou.
Representatives from two companies that are involved in the ramp-up shared their experiences with Sales OnDemand. Some of the challenges their sales teams were facing included the need for better intelligence and a clearer view of sales. The customers reported their appreciation for the built-in mobility, the integration with ERP software, and the intuitive user interfaces. Since much of Sales OnDemand is modeled on functions and tools found in current social media, there was very little need for training.
Business ByDesign: Feature packs 3.0 & 3.5
SAP Business ByDesign is a full suite of solutions intended for midsized businesses and is currently available in the 2.6 version. ByDesign has built-in mobility and supports the iOS and RIM platforms. The much-anticipated 3.0 feature pack is due out around August 2011. Rainer Zinow, senior vice president of On Demand strategy at SAP, gave a preview of the functions customers can expect to see in ByDesign 3.0.
Many of the changes or additional features in feature pack 3.0 came directly from customers. Of the 900 submissions to the ByDesign Ideas Platform, more than 500 requests made their way into feature pack 3.0. Customers will continue to influence future enhancements to Business ByDesign.
The 3.0 update will add support for two countries, Australia and Mexico as well as language support for Spanish. Support for the Windows 7 mobile platform will also be included. The feature pack will also include more ERP integration for large enterprises.
Zinow shared that the Business ByDesign enhancements will continue to integrate more ERP functionality because nearly half of the businesses that use ByDesign are actually just looking for an ERP solution. Feature pack 3.5–due out at the end of January 2012–will add capabilities and move more into the area of core ERP.
Future investments will focus on the development of add-ons. SAP will invest in a software development kit so partners and customers can develop the add-ons that they need. Perfecting the public solution model and lifecycle management will be priorities for improvements to ByDesign in feature pack 3.0 and beyond.
Zinow took a few minutes at the end of his presentation for a show-and-tell of ByDesign 3.0. The user interface is not at all changed–a promise SAP made to customers. But there are some new functions. By clicking on the “company settings” tab, users can pick a theme for the ByDesign background and choose to have a company logo or corporate photo brand their ByDesign interface.
Another new feature in 3.0 is in the area of ad-hoc reporting. Customers expressed their desire to create reports in the useful and familiar Excel format. Now, with feature pack 3.0, users will get a ByDesign plug-in to access ByDesign information in Excel. Then, they can save the Excel report in the ByDesign report list and share the report with colleagues.