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3 Solutions That Optimize SAP and Microsoft Functionality

How to Get Your Most Used and Most Mission-Critical Applications on the Same Page

by Pascal Gilbert | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 2

April 1, 2014

Microsoft products are among the most used desktop applications within organizations, many of which also rely on SAP software for their mission-critical business processes. A lack of connectivity between back-end SAP systems and front-end Microsoft applications, however, forces employees to constantly switch among applications to complete daily tasks, slowing productivity and agility. This article provides an overview of three solutions — SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft, SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connectivity for Microsoft Excel, and Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP — that address this disconnect by enabling business users to utilize SAP data and processes in a variety of Microsoft environments, quickly, securely, and without disruption.

 

Usability is an important factor for companies in choosing their enterprise solutions, as it affects user experience and productivity. This is part of the reason why Microsoft products continue to be some of the most used desktop applications in the enterprise. In fact, according to a 2013 Forrester survey of 155 IT professionals, Windows is installed on 70% to 90% of desktops and Microsoft Office is running on over one billion devices worldwide.1

Many of these organizations also rely on SAP software for their mission-critical applications, but with information mostly stored in back-end SAP systems with little-to-no connectivity to the front-end Microsoft applications, employees are finding themselves constantly switching among applications to complete their daily activities. This drastically slows down employee productivity and makes it difficult to respond quickly and intelligently to market changes.

Clearly, finding efficiencies between SAP and Microsoft solutions would be beneficial for many environments. When considering options for this, two important questions arise:

  • How do you make SAP data easily accessible from multiple channels and platforms without compromising system and data security?
  • How can you leverage existing investments in SAP and Microsoft technologies to deliver innovative and sustainable business solutions quickly without disrupting operations?

To answer these questions, SAP provides three SAP-Microsoft interoperability solutions that can help you unlock the value of your SAP and Microsoft investments: SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft, SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connectivityfor Microsoft Excel, and Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP. With these solutions, your business users can utilize SAP data and processes in a variety of Microsoft environments, including Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft SharePoint (see Figure 1). As a result, you can increase your organization’s business agility and quickly bridge the gap between business users and information systems.

Expand the value of existing Microsoft and SAP investments

Figure 1 — Expand the value of existing Microsoft and SAP investments

SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft

SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft is an interoperability framework for developers to quickly create solutions so business users can access and modify SAP data from Microsoft business productivity tools. This SAP-delivered solution simplifies the integration of SAP NetWeaver Gateway-based services into Microsoft products and ensures that Microsoft applications can communicate with SAP back-end systems in a secure, reliable, and scalable manner.

SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft improves user productivity and efficiency by leveraging commonly used Microsoft productivity applications to simplify access to and interaction with back-end SAP data.

SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft provides built-in functionality for integrated security, authorization, and data models so SAP-based applications can be created quickly within Microsoft technologies. It delivers simplified administration and auto-generated security with out-of-the-box single sign-on, preserves SAP authorizations, simplifies system and lifecycle management, and delivers standard SAP and Microsoft support and monitoring features.

For Microsoft Outlook users, the product delivers easy integration between SAP systems and Outlook. The ready-to-use Outlook templates enable IT to rapidly deploy business scenarios — in a matter of days instead of months or years — and enable users to update, modify, or create new SAP records directly within
Outlook. These include:

  • Contact templates: Access and modify SAP contact data (e.g., customers, employees, vendors, and other business partners) directly within Outlook as Outlook contacts.
  • Workflow templates: Take action on SAP workflows directly from Outlook tasks.
  • Appointment templates: Access, update, and create calendar-based SAP data (create a new SAP Customer Relationship Management activity or record time, for example) within the Outlook calendar.

Similarly, for the vast majority of Excel users, SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft delivers a Microsoft Excel add-in that allows users to create, retrieve, and change SAP data directly in Excel. This enables users to:

  • Quickly retrieve current SAP data into their preferred format in Excel for ad hoc or exception reporting.
  • Perform single or mass updates of SAP data from Excel immediately or via batch processing.
  • Use a combination of multiple filters to refine SAP data to be retrieved from the back-end SAP system via Excel.
  • Resolve conflicting user updates before Excel data is saved to the back-end SAP system.
  • Use data validation checks during data input and SAP data value help information as drop-down values in Excel.
SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connectivity for Microsoft Excel

While Microsoft Excel is one of the most frequently used office products, bringing data into Excel often requires a lot of manual steps, slowing down productivity. Using Power Query for Microsoft Excel, users can easily connect to SAP BusinessObjects BI Universes to more effectively access and analyze data from the company in Excel. With this solution, Excel users can now use the data visualization and presentation features of Power BI in Excel together with their IT managed data sources based on SAP BusinessObjects BI Universes. This functionality complements the client experiences already available in SAP BusinessObjects solutions, such as Web Intelligence or Crystal Reports.

SAP BusinessObjects for BI Universe Connectivity for Excel enables users to easily connect to enterprise data from their familiar environment via SAP BusinessObjects BI Universes, thus delivering the single version of the truth across the organization.

The enhanced analytics delivered in a user-friendly and familiar tool ensures users are getting the most from their data and provides a single version of the truth across the organization. For more information on this solution, see the article “Drive BI Adoption by Connecting Users with Data” in the Top Analytics Partners report in this issue of SAPinsider.

Duet Enterprise

If you have a critical mass of Microsoft SharePoint users, then Duet Enterprise is valuable for your enterprise. Duet Enterprise, developed jointly by SAP and Microsoft, allows users to collaborate in workspaces containing SAP information, participate in SAP software workflows, and access reports generated by SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) or SAP ERP directly within Microsoft SharePoint.

Duet Enterprise provides the following ready-to-use capabilities with pre-configured business content so that users can easily access, modify, and collaborate on SAP information directly within Microsoft SharePoint:

  • Collaborative workspace and Duet Enterprise sites: Access and collaborate on SAP data based on SAP back-end user authorization and roles.
  • Contextual workflow: Complete and manage SAP workflows as Microsoft SharePoint tasks.
  • Duet profile: Extend the user profile information from SAP systems into the Microsoft SharePoint MySite profiles to facilitate in-company collaboration.
  • Reporting: Personalize and schedule automatic generation of SAP reports through Microsoft SharePoint.

Duet Enterprise delivers an enterprise-ready interoperability foundation that allows the consumption of SAP enterprise services within Microsoft SharePoint for robust connectivity, integrated security, and authorization. It offers composition tools and business content for the quick creation of solutions, blending data and processes supported by SAP software with content and collaboration features from Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and 2013.

Learn More

With SAP-Microsoft interoperability solutions, you have the ability to ensure your organization achieves market advantage over competitors in a strategic, sustainable, and cost-effective manner. For more information, contact your SAP representative or visit us online at:

1 Forrester, “Market Update: Office 2013 and Productivity Suite Alternatives” (October 2013; http://bit.ly/1g26XrX and http://bit.ly/1aDp9c5). [back]

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Pascal Gilbert
Pascal Gilbert

Pascal Gilbert (pascal.gilbert@sap.com) is General Manager, Business Information and Technology Group, Gateway Consumption Tools Unit at SAP AG, focusing on SAP NetWeaver productivity accelerator for Microsoft, Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP, and other offerings. Pascal is responsible for product planning, product development, solution management, field and partner enablement and readiness, and business development.



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