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SAP to release industry-specific Business Objects applications

SAP is releasing 10 industry-specific Business Objects applications it says can be deployed in a fraction of the usual time and accessed on mobile devices.

Running a hospital is different from running a jeans company. Different operations, different business analytics.

That’s the thinking behind SAP’s announcement Tuesday that it’s adding 10 industry-specific Business Objects applications that SAP says can be deployed in a fraction of the time needed for the traditional Business Objects tools and accessed on mobile devices.

“We’re not only making companies more agile,” said SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott, who started the event demonstrating how applications can be run on an iPad. “We’re changing the behavior of the way companies work.”

SAP contends that business and other organizations can deploy these applications in as little as eight weeks because many of the factors that are specific to that industry have already been factored in, thereby reducing the time needed for customization.

“They’re feeding into a solutions-based approach to BI, rather than being tools focused,” said John Hagerty, analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

The applications can deliver 70% to 80% of what a business needs, right out of the box, according to Keith Costello, executive vice president for business analytics at SAP.

SAP officials stressed they’ve done that by “co-innovating” the products, collaborating with the kinds of companies that would use them.

To emphasize the point, SAP included on stage a handful of executives from those businesses the software maker says it’s worked alongside to create the new applications.  

Tom Peck, CIO of Levi Strauss & Co., said he’d rather implement something that’s already been thought out with the input of other companies in the same industry. Not only that, Peck said he favored smaller products like the new Business Objects applications, instead of more unwieldy, monolithic solutions that boards tend to hate anyway.

“I’m not a big fan of buying capabilities in big chunks,” he said.

Peck added that the new applications meet today’s need to access business analytics on mobile devices. “We need it on the hip,” he said.

Mark Smith, an analyst from Ventena Consulting in Pleasanton, Calif., wondered before the press event how much customization the applications would need.

He was pleased by what he saw. “They’re fairly narrow,” he said afterward.

Still, Smith and others watching the event wondered why SAP chose to invite only the CIOs from its “co-innovators” when it might have been a good idea to include those that oversaw manufacturing or sales – or others who deal firsthand with business intelligence within those organizations.

Analyst Howard Dresner was less kind, echoing the familiar complaint that SAP put on a good show but provided too few specifics.

“It was high level, abstract stuff,” Dresner said in an email after the event. “It was nice to have marquee customers there, but no ‘lessons learned’ were shared.”

The new Business Objects applications, which SAP contends will work with either structured or unstructured data from any SAP or non-SAP system, include:

•         Planning and Consolidation for Healthcare

•         Trade Promotion Effectiveness

•         Enterprise Risk Reporting for Banking

•         Readiness Assessment for Defense & Security

•         On-Shelf Availability Analysis

•         Planning and Consolidation for Banking

•         Quality Management for Healthcare

•         Sales Analysis for Retail

•         Customer Analysis and Retention for Telecommunications

•         Planning and Consolidation for Public Sector

According to Costello, the applications are available now and range from $3,000 to $9,000, depending on the specific application. Enhancements to the current applications will be made available on a yearly basis, he added. Additional applications in those same industries are also planned.

Although SAP is making the application available on an “on-premise” basis, the company plans to make it available on a cloud basis in the future.


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