As SAP begins to concentrate more on integrating its back-end systems with outward-facing E-commerce applications, E-commerce-focused SAP professionals will find their new skills can be transferred easily to other platforms, including Oracle and PeopleSoft.
"SAP is doing some wonderful things to make its internal components more outward-facing," says David Boulanger, director of the SAP service at AMR Research, Inc. in Boston. "For example, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), a new module within mySAP.com, takes all the materials components that were buried in Materials Management and some of the other production modules and puts them in central place. This means SAP professionals can work at linking those pieces up with external systems and applications."
Instead of focusing on integrating internal systems, SAP professionals are now faced with the task of collaborating with their customers and suppliers. "They need to do things like set the view of the master data, get the master data back to their partners, confirm its arrival, create the audit trail, and confirm that things like design changes got back into the SAP system," Boulanger says "It encompasses a variety of skills, including security, scalability, networking, transactions, and so on."
As SAP professionals increase their proficiency with these tasks, they will quickly find their skills are in demand beyond the world of SAP. "The interesting thing about mySAP.com is that a lot of those technology skills can be readily transferred to Oracle 11i, which is Oracle's Web-enabled applications suite, or to PeopleSoft 8," Boulanger says. "The detail skills are different, but those vendors are going down the same path as SAP. They're taking internal applications, facing them outward, putting a Web browser on the front, adding marketplace technology, and so on. It's ironic how similar some of these folks are, and that's good news for competent SAP professionals."