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Perspectives of the Mega Vendor – Part 1

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If we like it or not there is no way around it !. SAP has moved into the mega vendor leuage with their BI investments. Following the acquisition of Business Objects four years ago, there have as such during the last years been a lot of rumors regarding if SAP was looking for further new markets and technologies to pile in to their already wide suite of applications. Last year SAP announced that they had acquired Sybase and as such ntroducing a complete new range of technologies into the SAP framework which together with the newest release of SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 might redefine the SAP IM portfolio.

In this blog series I’ll outline my “perspective of the mega vendor” and provide you with my view on where SAP is currently heading. What’s in the he current technology portfolio? and what we should expect to come over the next years?. Let’s start with the new kid on the block…

The new kid on the block – Sybase!

SAP and Sybase actually already initiated a co-innovative partnership in 2009 aiming at developing state-of-the-art mobile business applications with the help of SAP’s enterprise business suite and the mobile infrastructure framework from Sybase. This has over the years resulted in various mobile enterprise solutions for iPhone, Blackberry and Windows mobile.

Now the question is how Sybase fits in to SAP’s general portfolio of software and technologies – especially as the technologies delivered by Sybase in general are more “traditional” in respect to infrastructure and platform, compared to the previous acquisitions which has been far more functional and application oriented. For instance the acquisition of Business Objects gave SAP direct
access to a suite of applications and functionality which were lacking in their existing Business Intelligence suite, and as such they managed to fill this functional gap in one stroke. Seen in this perspective the acquisition of Sybase was in my opinion a more tactical acquisition than what we have seen so far, and which have resulted in a more long term initiative for SAP to  incorporate. As such we haven’t seen the same hype regarding the Sybase merger as  it was the case with Business Objects – and we are still awaiting the new  SAP/Sybase technology portfolio to be available.

Having said that, there are some very interesting aspects of the Sybase merger – especially when it comes to converging technologies. With Sybase delivering a range of technology which SAP has struggled for years to develop on their own, this might lead the way for SAP redefining themself.

Specifically I see three major perspectives which I will elaborate on trying to outline where SAP is currently heading.

Mobility

Back in the late nineties SAP launched their first thoughts on how to transform their existing business suite into mobile applications. Some of these initiatives came together with the introduction of new applications such as SAP CRM, SAP SRM, SAP Internet Sales etc. All though all of these application had the potential to evolve into so called mobile business applications none of them really managed to set the scene as intended – most likely due to the fact that the mobile infrastructure at that time was far away from what we know today. With the introduction of the various smart phones and especially the Apple Iphone some years back, it made SAP reintroduce their ambitions on being a mobile service provider of business applications and as such SAP has during the last few years introduced various mobile variants of some of their enterprise applications – and as mentioned they initiated the partnership with Sybase two years ago.

To judge from the reactions from SAP, mobility was absolutely the primary driver for Sybase acquisition as SAP is aiming at delivering a range of new mobile applications by introducing knowhow and technology from Sybase. Sybase has a range of product within mobile commerce, enterprise apps and messaging which without a doubt will be able to complement and support the existing SAP business suite  with mobile features.As part of the evolvement of the SAP BusinessObjects suite into the existing SAP BI framework, SAP is currently working very hard on promoting a new application called SAP Business Objects Explorer together with a range of other BI tools being delivered with SAP BusinessObjects 4.0. In short SAP Business Objects Explorer is SAP’s attempt to launch a tool which can live up to the criteria’s for delivering self-service BI. The SBOP Explorer basically combines traditional search technology which we know from Google and other search engines, whit the benefits of flashy reporting known from SBOP Xcelcius (Crystal Dashboard) combined with high-performance response times through the use of in/memory technology. What’s interesting about this is that SAP has already launched a version of the SBOP Explorer for the Iphone which is actually quite impressive, and as such this is without a doubt just one of the first initiatives which we will see from SAP (and probably other vendors) to introduce traditional BI in a mobile context. To underline this SAP pushes full mobility support integrated in the new SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 portfolio.

As such I anticipate that the mobile infrastructure and technology (not only from Sybase but in general) – will evolve into the SAP and SBOP BI platform over the coming year or two, and accelerate mobile BI from SAP.

Stay tuned

In part 2 of this blog I’ll focus on the initiatives relating to in-memory appliances from SAP which
is currently being pushed very aggressively with BWA and HANA as the flagships.

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About Mads Frank

Mads is director within Platon Denmark and member of the danish management board . With 15 years of experience within SAP information management consulting his primary focus is on implementation and general management of information management projects related to SAP and SAP BusinessObjects - as well as general information management advisory. Mads’ primary professional competences is centered within the traditional data warehouse deciplines as well as general project management and methodology development. Mads further more specializes within the integration of third party ETL and front-end technologies with SAP - including Microsoft, QlikView, Theobald, Business Objects, etc.

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