SAP to Innovate Heavily in SMB On-Demand Suite

Business intelligence to pervade enterprise software giant's forthcoming products.

PALO ALTO, Calif. – SAP said it plans to aggressively pursue new markets with a slew of innovative new technologies for its troubled Business ByDesign on-demand suite of products for small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers. When SAP first detailed its plans for Business ByDesign a year ago, it was met with tepid reviews.

"When you come to challenging times, you have to take risks," co-CEO Henning Kagermann told a press conference at SAP's offices yesterday. "Business ByDesign is not just about product, we also want to focus on profitability, and in the volume business you have to do a lot of innovation to make the business profitable," Kagermann said.

At SAP (NYSE: SAP), the word innovation now takes on a whole new meaning. "You can look at it from two angles," said Jim Snabe, who heads SAP's business solutions and technology organization. "One is how to convert money into ideas; the other is how to convert ideas into money."

The new version of the suite will incorporate an innovative approach to customer relationship management (CRM) (define) and incorporate business intelligence technology from Business Objects, for which SAP bid $6.7 billion in October. The deal was finalized in December.

Business ByDesign broke the mold at SAP when the vendor introduced it last September. It was SAP's first on-demand offering, and Kagermann described it as the most important announcement I've made in my career" when announcing the suite last year.

After having to delay the release, SAP will come out with a "very competitive" customer relationship management (CRM) suite later this year, as part of Business ByDesign, Snabe said. Next, Business Objects technology will be integrated into the business processes "so analytics is integrated into the business," he added. These products will be delivered this year, Snabe said.

Analytics embedded into the SAP processes will let people in various departments conduct instant analyses on their projections both historically and into the future, said John Schwartz, president of SAP Labs, North America, and formerly CEO of Business Objects.

Business Objects is also "working on a consolidated business planning and consolidation suite that will be the leading and most comprehensive application in the marketplace, bar none," Schwartz said. This will be available both on SAP's NetWeaver platform and in a non-NetWeaver environment "so that customers who are not SAP customers today can use it," Schwartz explained.

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