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Business ByDesign 2.6 a turning point, says SAP

SAP has released the latest version of Business ByDesign, which the software manufacturer now says comes closer to realizing the application’s potential as a mature on-demand suite.

SAP has released the latest version of SAP Business ByDesign, which the software manufacturer now says comes closer to realizing the application’s potential as a mature on-demand suite.

The release, feature pack 2.6, includes a number of enhancements including a software development kit (SDK), on top of being compatible with a greater number of mobile devices.  It also includes pre-configured financial settings for subsidiaries to integrate with parent companies that are running the on-premise SAP Business Suite.

The new release also includes in-memory capabilities for its sales and financial planning analytics, part of SAP’s efforts to expand the technology across its portfolio of applications.

All in all, SAP is betting that the changes will finally start to grow its user base which has largely been anemic through the years.  SAP now says there are about 250 companies that use Business ByDesign, but feel that it will reach 1,000 by the year’s end.

“2.6 really puts a stake in the ground,” said Frank Iannotti, national vice president for Business ByDesign at SAP, referring to the impact he says the application will make on the market.

Whether those numbers will meet those expectations remains to be seen. SAP is optimistic because of Business ByDesign’s software development kit (SDK).  Built on the Microsoft Visual Studio language, the component allows third-party vendors to create and sell add-on applications that will make it easier for customers to extend Business ByDesign’s capabilities, according to SAP.  

While the SDK lets users get more out of their suite, it also helps build the SAP Business ByDesign ecosystem by allowing partners to create and sell their applications through the upcoming app store, said Josh Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting in Berkeley, Calif.  Those same partners have largely been sitting on the sideline, underutilized and unable to capitalize on helping customers implement the SAP on-demand application. 

SAP is seeking to provide some structure to its online app store by vetting which software makes it onto the site – not unlike how Apple oversees the iPhone applications that are sold on iTunes.  Details surrounding the online store are expected in early March, SAP said.

Business ByDesign 2.6 includes mobile support for the iPad and the Blackberry. SAP plans to issue updates every six months. The next update will include support for Android and Windows 7 phones. Support for the iPhone was announced last year.

SAP also hopes to get to 1,000 users also by selling Business ByDesign into the subsidiaries of its larger enterprise customers. To foster that enterprise adoption, SAP has included in the 2.6 feature pack a pre-configured financial integration scenario that allows parent and subsidiary company to communicate along global financial reporting standards. Other scenarios, including one for sales and distribution are planned for future releases, according to SAP.

It’s a smart move, Greenbaum says.  After all, no other on-demand suites can claim the ability to tie into on-premise ERP applications without having to abandon the on-demand model in lieu of an on-premise workaround, he said.

SAP also announced that Business ByDesign is now available in Austria, Switzerland and Canada – for a total of 11 countries.

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