The announcement comes roughly three years after the software giants first unveiled Duet, the original version of the application that never caught on, according to Jon Reed, SAP Mentor and owner of JonERP.com.
“It got absolutely no traction in the marketplace, as far as I can tell,” Reed said of Duet.
The original Duet never rose above a few hundred users for several reasons, according to Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research Group. For example, it was difficult to use, it had unnecessary features, and some of the underlying technology wasn’t exactly state of the art, he said.
While Wang sees potential for SAP Duet Enterprise to be a greater success than its predecessor, others aren’t so sure.
“In theory, the product has a place,” Reed said. “I don’t know; people may be jaded because of the previous Duet.”
This time around SAP is doubling down by betting that customers will respond more positively to the updated and upgraded application, which comes with preconfigured tools and content, along with a software development kit that allows customers to customize their applications.
That SAP has chosen a platform like SharePoint reflects a drive by SAP to give users what they’re looking for -- even if it isn’t an SAP interface.
In other words, SAP knows it “can’t push them into a portal or a UI they don’t want to get into,” Reed said.
Will the users come?
One company that’s looking to Duet Enterprise as a way to make its SAP ERP system easier to use is Sandvik, a Swedish firm that makes products for the manufacturing and mining industry.
Sandvik says it has more than 3,000 people dealing with invoice approvals and it wants an easier interface to deal with complex workflows. Without Enterprise Duet, the company would be compelled to spend time and money on customizing the SAP interface.
“Our users demand a little more than what is in the box,” said Nevzat Ertan, chief technical officer at Sandvik, who added that employees with the company assume that their work begins and ends in SharePoint. “They don’t even know they’re using SAP behind the scenes.”
SAP Duet Enterprise features
Duet Enterprise touts “ready to use features” like system management, single sign-on, authorization and user management, application lifecycle management, and data models mapping, according to SAP.
The software is also highly customizable, according to Wang. It can be extended into other applications, like analytics, for example.
“It doesn’t have to be SAP applications,” he said.
To run Enterprise Duet, users will need to run Microsoft SharePoint 2010 as well as SAP NetWeaver 7.02, officials said. Pricing for the application, which is now available, was not disclosed.