If you're using the Web to drive your business, it's critical to ensure
that the end-user experience is crisp, brisk, and seamless. Here at Hewlett-Packard,
we know it - but we also know how challenging it is to keep cutting-edge
e-business systems up and running smoothly. We currently have hundreds
of Web-driven sales, vendor, and customer solutions in place, covering
thousands of HP products, and handling processes ranging from placing
orders, to checking their status, to tracking them in transit. But even
though our Web-based solutions are impressive, let's face it: maintaining
and updating all these discrete e-commerce solutions sometimes brings
on some impressive headaches as well.
Recently, Hewlett-Packard reorganized.
Since our Web presence was segmented along the pre-reorganizational lines,
it fell to us to make it reflect the new HP, and to transform our Web
sites into a much more integrated, uniform, and coherent experience for
our customers. The same can be said for our intranet.
Getting into mySAP.com
Everybody wants to make Web-based activities more simple, direct, and
effective, but few organizations really understand how to do it. At HP,
we've been keen on Internet technologies for some time, but we didn't
know until recently how strong a player SAP could be in the Web-enabled
space. We'd heard about SAP's moves into this arena with mySAP.com, and
since we already have R/3 systems in place, we felt we owed it to ourselves
to see how much of SAP's Internet-enabled technology might be a good fit
for our business. As it turns out, the answer is: a lot of it!
Our SAP Enterprise Agreement license includes
the mySAP.com product suite. When we first signed it, not many people
here knew what mySAP.com was all about, but now the ideas behind this
initiative are much more concrete. We're able to see how the mySAP.com
Marketplace and especially the Workplace can help us streamline our processes
and bolster productivity.
Cost and Implementation Advantages
Here's an example of what I mean. We have over 20 implementations of
SAP representing FI, PP, MM, SD, CO, BW, APO, and WM. Our current user
base totals over 10,000. As a result, we have a lot of SAP GUIs floating
around - we even have different release versions! Needless to say, it
takes plenty of IT support to deploy and maintain it all. So to me one
of the strongest appeals of mySAP.com Workplace is doing away with a big
chunk of the deployment and maintenance costs, because everything runs
on a browser.
mySAP.com Workplace could provide employees
with a single, tightly integrated frontend to our entire SAP back net.
No longer would we have to create custom SAP interfaces - that's a big
advantage in both cost and implementation speed. mySAP.com Workplace also
makes it much easier to provide the right information at the right time
to those who need it, because the mySAP.com applications know how to query
R/3 for any kind of information. That means we can provide more current,
more pertinent, and more valuable information by implementing a mySAP.com
User Experience Soars
But even more important, with mySAP.com Workplace, the user experience
improves dramatically, because the Workplace is role-based, not system-based.
From the Workplace LaunchPad, you can navigate with the click of a button
to whatever it is you need to do, with no worries about what's going on
behind the scenes. And when you get into really large companies like ours,
masking the complexity for the end users affords them the ability to concentrate
on their jobs - rather than on what system they're using.
Here's another thing: among those 10,000
users, it's very common for people in Sales and Support to log on to multiple
instances. But thanks to the single sign-on, Workplace removes the worry
about which R3 instance they're logging onto, or what their password is
for that instance - a nice touch. Besides, who wants to remember all that
I can envision a sales rep out in the field
at a customer site who needs to know the status of certain orders, and
who also wants to know about the service contract on the hardware. Those
are two different SAP instances (one of which he may not even have access
to), but if we mask all that complexity and just make it easy for the
sales rep to get the information he needs, everybody wins, especially
I can just as easily envision Workplace
on an executive desktop; executives are always looking for information
like profitability analyses, sales trends, and so forth. Unfortunately,
in our company the tools and repositories for different types of data
have diverged over time. However, we could write a mySAP.com MiniApp (and
perhaps couple it with SAP's Executive Cockpit app) that could deliver
customized information - exactly what the executive wants to know.
HP clearly has a large IT environment. It's not uncommon for a database
administrator to manage databases scattered across 120 machines - in training,
development, production, and so forth. And he has to log on to every one
of those to do his job. But under Workplace, he could access various machines
in a menu, click on whatever systems he needs to see, and he's there.
Workplace could help us in window management
too, because the more time consuming it is for you to log on, the more
likely you are to leave a window open. But if it becomes relatively painless
to enter and exit a task, there's a lot less likelihood you'll leave a
window open, which conserves machine and network resources as well.
Down the Road
I'm personally very enthusiastic about Workplace. It's easy to use. It's
light years from the look, feel, and navigation of the SAP GUI. And as
I consider the potential of these tools, I can see that down the road
our customers, partners, and suppliers could similarly be using some type
of Workplace environment, integrated with mySAP.com Marketplaces and Business
Scenarios, for their interactions with us.
We view ourselves as a partner with SAP,
in that our working relationship reflects more than just a vendor-customer
relationship. I think mySAP.com Workplace goes hand-in-hand with what
HP is doing to reinvent itself - HP has an enormous presence on the Web,
and yet the industry does not yet view HP as an "Internet company," something
we're determined to change.
That's why we now need to utilize Internet
technology more intelligently than ever before. Here in IT, our mandate
is to help HP succeed on the Internet with whatever tools are available
that work for us. And mySAP.com looks like a tool that will deliver the
is the SAP Alliance Manager for HP IT. She has been with
HP for 15 years and has a B.S. in Business Administration. Wendy has been
directly involved in large R/3 implementations, acting as a liaison between
HP and SAP during that process. In her current role, she works directly
with HP senior management to help HP realize the maximum potential of mySAP.com.