SAP's Most Recent "Big News" Teleconference, Translated for Mere Mortals

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11:03 For those of you still following along, this B.S. 7 launch has become a condemnation of SAP's upgrade costs. Must be fun for SAP.

More from Roche's Allerton on upgrades: "I wish I had [B.S. 7] about four years ago, it's a little late, thank you," and glances to Leo, sitting next to her. "We run multiple SAP systems, and that's part of our challenge. We were running around 20 different SAP systems worldwide.... We then looked at cost of upgrading all of this, and said, 'We're going to get zero business benefit out of doing the upgrades on this. We're going to start having to do things differently." Which is why you're here today? Just asking. She adds that she's on a lower cost-basis now. Which is why she's here.

11:06 Great point by IBM's Horan on ease of use considerations for "casual" users. "As we are expanding our footprint more into the CRM capabilities," she says, "now we're extending out to the more casual users." But the challenge for IBM now: making it work for back-office power users as well as casual front-line users. "So while we in the CIO office kind of love the fact that we're running an SAP system, that is irrelevant to the salesperson out in the field." Exactly!

11:08 This point by Colgate-Palmolive's Toben gives you an indication both how much large companies rely on SAP these days and also how much large companies feel that packaged apps aren't that unique: "We want SAP to be as, quite frankly, all inclusive as possible. Our strategy is first to go to SAP.... We think the differentiation is not just the software itself, it's how you use it."

11:15 The panel discussion is over. Now comes the Q&A.

11:17 A Maintenance question! Good. "Will B.S. 7.0 cut down on maintenance costs..." My connection just shut down again. Great. Can't get back!

11:18 The only problem with Diet Coke is that it's a diuretic.

11:23 I'm back. Colgate-Palmolive's Toben is talking about PLM...guess I didn't miss that much.

11:33 Vinnie Mirchandani, who is frequently mentioned in this blog, asks why the audience hasn't heard the words "iPhone, SaaS or clouds" today? Roche's Allerton says: "So, iPhones, we view them not as a business tool, but a nice to have." Colgate-Palmolive's Toben on cloud computing: "It's probably not called cloud for no reason." I see.

11:35 Leo's next: "Let me give you insight into these buzzwords," he says a little derisively to Vinnie's question. "You know, enterprise application software is a very, very, very tricky thing. The amount of reliability and hardening and robustness that you need to build into a system is not to be compared to little toys you play with." Quote of the day!

11:39 To the Great Buzzword Debate, Jim H.S. adds: "I believe it is our task in engineering to look at the various buzzwords out there and translate them into real customer benefit."

11:49 a.m. EST: My connection just (thankfully) failed again.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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