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The road to Orlando, part 2: Gleaning expectations from Lisbon

With SAPPHIRE 2001 Orlando about to kick off next month, the ghosts of SAPPHIRE 2001 Lisbon are hinting at what to expect for the Orlando incarnation of SAP AG's annual e-business conference. One analyst expects the focus to reside on private marketplaces and CRM.

According to Bruce Richardson, analyst at Boston-based AMR Research Inc., attendees at the Orlando show can expect to see more on SAP Portals, private marketplaces, CRM and supply chain products.

"There will be more focus on portals and marketplaces," he said.

At the Lisbon show, SAP put forth a menagerie of announcements. The company announced a group strategy focused on the newly formed SAP Portals Inc. and SAPMarkets Inc., both of which sell and develop components, exchanges and portals. The group strategy announcement also touted the integration of these components and SAP's supply chain management, CRM, Product Lifecycle Management, E-Procurement, Business Intelligence, Financials and Human Resources.

Lisbon didn't hold any surprises, Richardson said. The portals strategy had been well described at the SAP Portals announcement, held the previous week, but details are unclear regarding how SAP plans to market the portals, he said. For example, the portals don't seem to have a "killer app" beyond the single logon.

"SAP will want to convince the world that its CRM products are head-to-head with Siebel, and the supply chain products are head-to-head with i2," Richardson said. Both are designed to work with a customer's existing infrastructure, but whether or not customers buy the integration story is an issue.

"The CRM product is getting to be bulletproof, and the supply chain (software) is perfect for what most customers need," Richardson said. "The products are the strongest they have ever been, (but) the Product Lifecycle Management needs to go back in the oven and finish cooking."

Private marketplace customers are going to need a roadmap showing logical starting points, he said. SAP did create 150 collaborative e-business scenarios, but customers need to know where they can benefit and see metrics.

"The mantra this year is value, value, value," Richardson said. This year's message should also be how to get value out of SAP's applications, and private marketplaces are red-hot right now, he said. Customers and partners are looking to upgrade existing systems, and many are deciding that this is a good year to upgrade from SAP 4.6 to plans to go to Orlando next month to bring you the latest from SAPPHIRE 2001. Keep visiting the site for previews and exclusive coverage.


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