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Q&A: Info overload drives demand for ERP, analytics, SAP's Courteau says

Jaikumar Vijayan | March 17, 2011
Dealing with data a challenge as companies seek competitive advantage

How are these trends shaping your product strategy? We came out with a product in Q4 of last year called HANA , which is a big data engine that combines in-memory analytics with high-performance processing. It is optimized for SAP environments now, but we are going to evolve that product to work in SAP and non-SAP environments. It allows you to really pour through terabytes of data in seconds so you can drive the analytics around things like managing your global inventory and supply chain.

We also have introduced things like an event management capability that allows you to take real-time events and use that to actually act on them in a store, in a supply chain, with your partners and anywhere an event can have an impact on your decision-making. From a live data perspective, we are working with companies that are going to start tracking things like products or assets or shipments so they can actually have real-time access. These are all new capabilities that we are co-mingling to allow people to accelerate their businesses to near real-time type of management.

How is the trend towards cloud computing playing into this? We are committed to making our products available in the cloud. We are doing that directly with products like our category of products for sustainability, we are doing that with our Business ByDesign products and we will absolutely continue to give customers more choice. Many of our ecosystem partners are starting to build private clouds using some of our functionality. The one example that has been around for a while is ADP, which now delivers a global HR offering for large customers around the world using the SAP HR functionality in a cloud-based environment.

What is SAPs Line-of-Business OnDemand strategy about? It's really taking each of our strategic assets such as CRM, HCM and procurement and making those capabilities available for customers through our partners. They can either get the whole functionality managed by a third party; they can just consume it on an as-needed basis in a private cloud arrangement; or SAP would deliver it in the cloud. So we are doing more of those kinds of arrangements and we expect that trend to accelerate.

What's driving it? A couple of things are driving the trend. It is a legitimate alternative in the market place. People have had experience with it now. It's a technology that is being accepted more. At one point, cloud was something that people were anxious about because of the security aspects. But that's less the case now. People like the idea that you can actually implement these systems for single-process types of applications without the overhead of a long project.


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