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Sapphire attendees see potential in Duet, composite applications

Attendees at the SAP Sapphire user conference are generally pleased with the direction SAP executives are steering the company. Some customers see Duet and composite applications in their future.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Attendees at Sapphire '06 said they are either contemplating or currently in the process of upgrading to mySAP ERP 2005, and some are slowly being convinced by SAP executives that composite applications show great potential for their businesses.

I've gained a lot of experience from other attendees, and that really helped clarify things for me.
Isabella Hannot,
business process managerBoston Scientific

Duet, the joint SAP-Microsoft project formerly known as Mendocino, was one of the hot topics, drawing crowds around both the presentation theaters and the demo stations on the conference floor.

Catherine Johnston, a global systems leader at a large consumer product manufacturer in the Chicago area, had an opportunity to see Duet. The software combines Microsoft Office products with some SAP transactions for end users.

"It's an amazing thing to harness the technology everybody already uses like this," Johnston said. "It's like they disguise advanced functionalities into simple processes in a Windows environment. I think that's really good for users in that SAP becomes so much less intimidating."

SAP said that as many as 15,000 attendees flocked to its annual Sapphire user conference in Orlando, Fla. It was the first time that the event was co-located with the annual America's SAP Users' Group conference. There were many reasons SAP professionals traveled from thousands of miles away to learn about the company's latest trends.

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Isabella Hannot, business process manager at Natick, Mass.-based medical supply maker Boston Scientific, said the firm's Netherlands office has been pondering an SAP upgrade to address supply chain and warehouse management issues.

The overseas flight was worthwhile not just for the presentations and demos, she said, but for the networking opportunities with other SAP professionals in similar situations.

"I'm pretty certain we'll upgrade to mySAP ERP and SCM 5.0 now," Hannot said. "I've gained a lot of experience from other attendees, and that really helped clarify things for me."

Antonio Vellasco, director of IT and administration at Brazil-based Promon, said his firm is considering SAP. Promon, an engineering company with 1,000 employees, runs a 1990s homegrown legacy system based on Sybase and Visual Basic applications.

Promon is currently evaluating SAP, Oracle and Sweden-based Industrial and Financial Systems, a software vendor specializing in engineering management, Vellasco said. Executives at Promon envision a future using Web services and service-oriented architectures.

"We need a comprehensive solution for project control, financials," Vellasco said. "We're evaluating different ERP systems, but we're interested in a package, not a bunch of loose parts."

SAP for Retail was on the mind of Todd Stiles, a senior systems analyst at New York City-based leather goods and accessories maker Coach Inc.

Stiles said his firm is considering upgrading from R/3 4.5B to mySAP ERP. The final decision will not be made until later this year, he said.

"NetWeaver and business warehousing sound pretty interesting," Stiles said. "We may have to look at how these technologies can add value to our company in the future."

Another area drawing interest from attendees is xApps, SAP's branded composite applications.

Margaret Bush, a project operations manager at a Mass.-based consumer electronics company, likened her department's position to being the internal service organization to the company. Faced with internal communication challenges, resources and moods alike get strained when communication is out of sync, she said. To remedy the problems, she is looking into portfolio management software.

"The biggest draw for me at this point is xApps technology in general and xRPM [Resource and Portfolio Management] in particular," Bush said.

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