Peter Graf, Vice President of Marketing, SAPMarkets, talks about
mySAP.com, what differentiates SAP's e-commerce offerings from others, and how
to get started.
Q. Lots of companies claim to offer e-commerce solutions. What differentiates
mySAP.com's offerings from the rest of the pack?
In short, our unrivaled experience in the area of business processes.
In the past, business processes were run within one organization. In today's
highly competitive Internet era, business processes must cross corporate
boundaries. Take something as simple as buying and selling products on
the Web. Imagine orders being automatically generated from a user's choice
of catalog selections made available through mySAP.com Marketplace. A
Purchase Order is created on the buyer's system and at the same time a
Sales Order is created on the seller's system. Thanks to our unique understanding
of the buyer's and seller's purchasing and order fulfillment systems (whether
they both happen to be SAP systems or not), we can enable both companies
to treat the transaction as a single business process - which, in fact,
it is. This way, you avoid double, triple, and sometimes even quadruple
entry of the same data into multiple systems - a situation that is not
only inefficient, but also error prone. Moreover, buyer and seller know
instantly whether an order can be filled. Since generation of sales orders,
invoices, pick-lists, and even shipping documents is all automatic, the
cost of the transaction goes down while the speed with which it's enacted
goes way up - two essential business requirements in an e-commerce age,
where profitability often hinges on very tight margins.
Of course, online commerce and the kinds
of tactical benefits I've just described are just the tip of the iceberg.
The real strategic benefit lies in heightened innovation, responsiveness,
and efficiency up and down an organization's value chain. "Value" is now
derived from the sum total of the entire multi-enterprise network, not
just from a single provider! The more tightly aligned a company's business
processes are with those of its suppliers, distributors, and customers,
the better. You realize lower merchandise costs, faster delivery times,
streamlined inventory processes, improved customer satisfaction, and better
data for more accurate, timely forecasting and decision-making. Ultimately,
mySAP.com will enable you to integrate so closely with your business partners,
suppliers, distributors, and customers that all these entities will work
together as if they were one company!
Q. What, exactly, does "mySAP.com" stand for?
The "my" implies highly personalized interfaces and solutions. "SAP"
stands for business integration, industry experience, and value creation.
The ".com" says, in no uncertain terms, that this is an Internet solution,
one that will drive new types of synchronized business processes. Put
it all together and it's an equation for the delivery of collaborative
business processes that can span enterprise boundaries. I just described
one simple, collaborative purchasing scenario. Now picture collaborative
forecasting or engineering activities being performed by two companies
that leverage software services made available through an electronic marketplace.
Better still, imagine that that software is integrated with both companies'
backend systems. In each case, collaborative business processes enhance
service while offering new opportunities, lower costs, and real-time satisfaction
for all concerned.
mySAP.com delivers these benefits through four key components:
- mySAP.com Marketplaces
- mySAP.com Workplaces
- mySAP.com Business Scenarios
- mySAP.com Application Hosting (Note: see Figure 1 for more detail
Q. Would it be fair to say that the scope of the mySAP.com initiative
is well beyond the capabilities of any one vendor, even SAP?
Absolutely. In fact, that's the whole point! mySAP.com is an initiative
that draws upon the talent and resources of thousands of companies. The
Marketplace, with its online business directory, is drawing business partners
from all over the globe. It's here that buyers and sellers register their
profiles, locate business providers, and can participate in high-value,
collaborative business processes.
Our vision is to open things up and enable
businesses to realize the immense opportunity that the Internet has to
offer. I've seen estimates that peg the volume of business that will be
transacted on the Internet in the next two years as high as $327 billion.
Think about that - $327 billion! But everything comes with a price tag.
The price tag associated with Internet-based business becomes affordable
with mySAP.com. We provide the prerequisite security, hosting services,
and venue (i.e., the Marketplaces).
Q. Does mySAP.com's Internet focus make a traditional ERP system like
Quite the opposite. You need to have your house in order before you can
take thousands of orders over the Web and then attempt to fulfill those
orders. You can't run processes that interoperate with those of your partners,
suppliers, or customers without well-honed, in-house business processes.
That, of course, is what SAP has always been about. Our commitment to
R/3 is unwavering. mySAP.com is the solution that R/3 customers leverage
on a component-by-component basis to instantly prepare their existing
infrastructures for collaborative, Web-driven activities.
Actually, what does become obsolete is a rigid separation of internal
and external business processes. Via mySAP.com Marketplaces, we're providing
existing R/3 customers with the means to seamlessly meld their key business
processes with those of their partners, suppliers, and customers.
And for those organizations that don't
yet have R/3 in house, we're providing an inexpensive and easy way to
do so. mySAP.com Application Hosting services make it possible for even
the smallest companies to readily leverage mySAP.com software. In the
UK, for instance, we know of an R/3 customer with just two users. This
customer did not have to incur any implementation costs, and will not
incur ongoing maintenance costs, because they are utilizing a hosted solution
over the Internet. Implementation and maintenance are the responsibility
of the Application Service Provider. I suspect that over time, even our
largest customers will avail themselves of mySAP.com Application Hosting
solutions, forming heterogeneous environments where some applications
run internally, while others are hosted outside - and all are accessed
through mySAP.com Workplace.
Q. What does the end-user (mySAP.com Workplace) experience look like
in this new Internet world?
It's an enterprise portal. But this simple-to-use interface packs a powerful
punch. mySAP.com Workplace offers every user a single point of access
to all the applications, information, and services that he or she needs
in the course of the day. SAP data and applications, legacy systems, third-party
applications, and just about anything that can be reached via an Internet
address are all available through this HTML-based frontend, with the added
advantage of being role-based and highly personalizable.
The people in your Sales, Finance, and
Support organizations (and the customers, partners, suppliers, and employees)
would not be looking at the same UI. Through the Workplace, the Sales
folks would have access just to the data and applications that make particular
sense to them, as would the Finance and Support folks. Moreover, we've
set things up so users have secure access to all these resources via a
single signon/logon. Users can even drag and drop information between
applications. Say, for instance, I want to track the status of a particular
overnight shipment. I can go into SAP, call up a tracking number, drop
it on the appropriate page on the shipper's Web site, and view the delivery
status of the package.
Nothing needs to be installed on my desktop
to facilitate these activities. Once you implement the Workplace, you
gain browser-based access to all SAP functionality and even to the functionality
provided by non-SAP systems. That's a big win for SAP users, who want
simple, centralized access to all the things they need, and perhaps an
even bigger win for the IT organizations that support them, since there
is no longer any specialized SAP software that needs to be maintained
at the client.
Q. How does a customer get started with mySAP.com?
Participation requires nothing more than Release 3.1H (and higher). If
you've got R/3 in house, the bulk of the work is behind you. We've made
it very easy to quickly deploy mySAP.com components. Our e-Commerce Starter
Pack gets you started with the Workplace, which provides immediate browser-based
access to your existing R/3 and non-R/3 systems, Business-to-Business
Procurement, and an Online Store. The starter pack includes consultancy,
which ensures a customer gets mySAP.com components up and running in an
incredibly short time frame. It really is that simple.
||mySAP.com Marketplaces are Internet hubs that enable bilateral and
multilateral collaboration between and among enterprises. Marketplaces
provide services ranging from stock quotes and news to discussion
forums, business directories, and hosted applications - for example,
e-commerce, collaborative forecasting, collaborative engineering,
etc. mySAP.com Marketplaces may be purchased by organizations that
want to build and operate marketplaces either on their own or in a
joint venture with SAP and/or other companies. SAP also offers mySAP.com
Marketplaces as a service that can be used by participating organizations
for a fee. Examples of such marketplaces are at http://marketplace.mysap.com,
which went live in October 1999, and the marketplaces for Chemicals/
Pharmaceuticals and for Oil & Gas, which open their doors this year.
||mySAP.com Workplaces are enterprise portals for empowering all the
employees, customers, suppliers, and partners of a company. They enjoy
a highly personalized, single point of Web access to everything they
need in their business role to get the job done easily.
||mySAP.com Business Scenarios combine intra- and inter-enterprise
services, information, and application components. These form collaborative
business scenarios in the areas of e-Commerce, Customer Relationship
Management, Supply Chain Management, Business Intelligence, and Enterprise
||mySAP.com Application Hosting reduces the risk, time, and investment
needed to participate in collaborative business processes. An application
service provider ensures that a whole software solution, or parts
of it, are provided to a company as a service over the Internet; the
enterprise does not need to run the software itself and consequently
saves investments in hardware, maintenance, and system management.
Visit www.sap.com/ides to give the application hosting software a