Part 2 of Jon Reed's guest series looks at terms that are up-and-coming in the SAP world and deserve attention from SAP consultants. Check out Part 1 for some terms whose time has passed.
SAP terms that are "cool" to use
BBD -- Business ByDesign is the formal name for SAP's on-demand product for the "lower midmarket" -- filling the gap between small companies that might run Business One and larger midmarket companies that would probably run All-in-One. When it announced BBD, SAP noted that it would leverage the eSOA (enterprise service-oriented architecture) landscape. The overall success of BBD probably rides on the broader challenges facing the Software as a Service (SaaS) market, which has struggled mightily but does have some recent success stories like the rise of Salesforce.com. It remains to be seen whether SAP can add another chapter to the book of SaaS wins.
Business Process Expert -- Business process expert (BPE) is the term SAP is using to describe the next-generation consultant who will be needed to implement the SAP systems of the future and fulfill the eSOA vision. BPEs will come from both technical and functional SAP backgrounds. Consultants who want to become BPEs will need to integrate their IT and business skills into one skill set, not unlike the way companies are merging IT and business agendas in order to stay competitive. More information on becoming a BPE is available at SAP's Business Process Expert homepage.
eSOA -- Formerly called ESA, Enterprise SOA (service-oriented architecture) is SAP's own customized, business-process-centric version of the standard SOA developed by the TOGAF open standards group. If you've missed the buzz on eSOA, stay tuned -- there will surely be another batch of press releases issued shortly.
NetWeaver Process Integration (PI) -- Formerly called Exchange Infrastructure, NetWeaver 7.1 now features PI, SAP's integration hub and a vital part of SAP's Enterprise SOA. The success of PI depends on whether companies will be willing to switch from whatever messaging systems they are already using. The feeling here is that PI will survive the performance tests and will eventually be a frequently used part of SAP's overall architecture.
NetWeaver CE (Composition Environment) -- This is SAP's new development environment, which is based on the Java EE 5 architecture and includes cutting-edge modeling tools. NetWeaver CE ships with NetWeaver 7.1, but the good news is that NetWeaver CE is now available on the SAP Developer Network, so aspiring CE developers can roll up their sleeves and practice their technique right now. CE is part of SAP's intentional shift into the age of modeling, where manual coding will be de-emphasized in favor of visual modeling and business process modeling. Welcome to the age of "composition and reusability."
SAP Certified Master -- "Certified Master" is the top tier of SAP's new three-tier certification program. According to this new program, you can get an "Associate Certification" (the equivalent of the "classic" SAP certification) or a "Professional Certification" (one tier higher in skills). Sometime in 2008, SAP will also offer the "Certified Master" level.
The launch of the "Certified Master" program has been delayed because this will be the first certification from SAP that is likely to involve more than a sit-down test. Some type of hands-on or field evaluation is slated to be included, and how that will be accomplished has yet to be hammered out. Over time, these advanced certification levels could have an impact on the market. On the positive side, these higher-level certifications could help independent SAP consultants achieve an extra level of perceived credibility when applying for project openings. On the down side, we have heard from consultants who view the new SAP certifications as a "cash grab." Perhaps wait-and-see is the best attitude for now.
SAP OCM Toolkit -- SAP OCM stands for SAP "Organization Change Management." I'm probably the only one who is into this particular term, so be careful tossing "OCM" around if you expect someone else to understand you. The reason I am including it here? First, because I was impressed to learn that SAP's Solution Manager now ships with a complete, step-by-step OCM Toolkit to follow throughout the implementation. This is an incredibly helpful roadmap for addressing the "human side" of an SAP installation at each place where changes in roles and organizational structure may be encountered. I also included this term because Solution Manager itself is becoming a key part of the SAP landscape, and so, by getting a handle on the "SAP OCM Toolkit," we're also getting a firmer grip on Solution Manager -- a product to stay on top of for anyone with a stake in SAP.
Switch Framework -- SAP's term for the new ability customers have, as of ERP 6.0, to turn on the industry solutions they need. All of SAP's 25+ industry solutions ship with ERP 6.0. One of the genuine "Gee whiz -- that is kind of neat" moments at TechEd came with a live demonstration of how to turn on and tweak an industry solution in real time. The average SAP professional won't be encouraged by his company to fool around with the Switch Framework, but it's still pretty nifty. The big deal is that SAP is shipping all the Industry Solutions at once, allowing companies to activate the functionality without having to track different release schedules.
Web 2.0 -- SAP uses this term so much we're all forgiven if we temporarily thought SAP had created it. "Web 2.0" is the ultimate technology cocktail term because everyone knows what it means yet nobody can define it. Be on the lookout for "Enterprise 2.0," a sister term implying the use of Web 2.0 in the corporate enterprise.
Since Web 2.0 has more definitions than any other term in use, we're not going to define it here, except to say that the idea of leveraging the Web for the purposes of building intelligent communities is something that SAP has done a better job of than many of its customers. How many of SAP's own customers have a community with almost a million members obsessing over its every move and providing valuable input, much of it on a volunteer basis?
The critical question is: How does Web 2.0 fit into eSOA? That's a topic for a longer article, and you'll find many different answers. As a general rule, the Web 2.0 concept of "mashups" has definitely had an impact on SAP's own Enterprise Services vision. We can go further and predict that the integration of third-party "best of breed" content services, such as the mashup of external demographic trends with internal customer data, is one of the "killer apps" of the eSOA era. For now, we're safe in using the term "Web 2.0" even if we don't know exactly what we're talking about -- because nobody else does either.
Jon Reed is an independent SAP analyst who writes on SAP consulting trends. He is the president of JonERP.com, an interactive website that features his take on SAP career trends. Jon is also the author of the SAP Consultant Handbook, and he serves as the career expert for SearchSAP's "Ask the Expert" panel.
Part 1 of Jon Reed's series on TechEd 2007 terminology focused on terms that are becoming less important for SAP consultants.