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Update: SAP launches Business Suite 7

Company calls it a more flexible, cost-effective option in tough economic climate

By Chris Kanaracus
February 4, 2009 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - SAP AG today launched Business Suite 7, pitching the software as a more flexible and cost-effective option amid lean economic times.

The suite includes more than 150 new "functional innovations" in areas such as customer relationship management, supply chain management and industry-specific applications. It also continues SAP's emerging "enhancement package" strategy, which allows users to add functionality they want without the pain of a full upgrade.

Business Suite 7 is a major watershed for SAP because it aligns the vendor's various modules for the first time on a single underlying platform, according Forrester Research Inc. analyst Ray Wang.

SAP "had to" do this, Wang said.

"People have had this perception that it's this one integrated system, but the reality is the [systems integrators] have been tying all these [modules] together, making them work," he said.

Company executives repeatedly framed Business Suite 7 as extremely important for SAP, as well as customers, during a launch event in New York.

It "marks an absolute, true milestone in the history of SAP," said co-CEO Leo Apotheker. "It's a keystone we will build on for the future."

And thanks to features like the enhancement packs, customers' sleepless nights over their ERP upgrades are "over," he declared. "We're done with that."

An SAP spokesman delivered a product demonstration of the new Business Suite software, showing how a dashboard-like interface pulls in relevant information from various modules.

For example, a product manager for a GPS device could examine revenue data, view 3-D renderings of the product, track comments being made about the item on Twitter or even change one of its parts.

With the high-profile product launch, SAP is also hoping to change the conversation from its controversial decision last year to transition customers to a richer-featured butmore expensive Enterprise Support service.

SAP has insisted the service will result in lower cost of ownership for customers, but its move nonetheless sparked an outcry from user groups. SAP has since agreed to cooperatively work with user groups on a set of key performance indicators to prove the service's value.

Executives repeatedly stated today that through more flexible deployment options, Enterprise Support and other factors, Business Suite customers will end up saving money in the long run.

But today's launch in one sense highlights "how SAP customers are in really different places," said Jon Reed, an independent analyst who tracks SAP skills issues and runs the Web site jonERP.com.

The Business Suite 7 release has value for customers using the latest SAP system, but many users are still on older systems and are looking for immediate ways to save money, not to necessarily spend it on large new software packages, he said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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