Expand +



HP Sees Future in

by Wendy Oldum | SAPinsider

June 1, 2000

by Wendy Oldum, Hewlett-Packard SAPinsider - 2000 (Volume 1), June (Issue 1)

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

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, 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 product suite. When we first signed it, not many people here knew what was all about, but now the ideas behind this initiative are much more concrete. We're able to see how the 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 Workplace is doing away with a big chunk of the deployment and maintenance costs, because everything runs on a browser. 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. Workplace also makes it much easier to provide the right information at the right time to those who need it, because the 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 integrated experience.

User Experience Soars

But even more important, with 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 stuff?

     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 the customer.

     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 MiniApp (and perhaps couple it with SAP's Executive Cockpit app) that could deliver customized information - exactly what the executive wants to know.

IT Pluses

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 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 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 looks like a tool that will deliver the goods.

Wendy Odlum 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

An email has been sent to:

More from SAPinsider


Please log in to post a comment.

No comments have been submitted on this article. Be the first to comment!