ERP Giant Targets Broad Market With mySAP

ERP pioneer SAP AG has placed a big wager on mySAP.com as the next "must-have" product in the high-stakes world of corporate computing. For the company's customer base in heavy industry, manufacturing and global operations, mySAP.com will serve as a Web-based corporate portal to their back-end SAP R/3 databases and warehouses. But SAP also hopes smaller companies will choose the system to get online with real-time Internet operations.

"Just as you counted on SAP to provide a holistic view of the enterprise, you can count on mySAP.com in the Internet age to provide a holistic view of entire markets, including the required collaboration between companies and industries," said SAP founder Hasso Plattner at the 1999 SAPPHIRE user conference in Philadelphia.

MySAP.com can be many things to many people. Using a browser-based interface, it can serve as a Web-based storefront, a news center for company information, a billboard or place to file expense reports. With internal corporate functions including training, benefits management or personnel are increasingly shifting to "self-service," says David A. Link, vice president of The Hunter Group, a Baltimore consultancy, mySAP.com could work entirely in-house via an intranet or be made available selectively to outside users on the Web.

The product offers separate environments for internal and external services. Marketplace is an open electronic business-to-business hub that enables inter-company relationships for buying, selling and communicating. Workplace is an enterprise portal that provides users with a personalized, Web-browser-based work environment. A set of prewritten Business Scenarios enable rapid development of business-to-business and business-to-consumer solutions. Application hosting provides a cost-effective delivery mechanism for companies to adopt the full range of mySAP.com solutions.

Several industry analysts say the package will serve specific department or project needs for companies with IT budgets under $5 million. One likely market is in industries such as retailing for companies that have not yet connected their inventory, point of sale and logistics systems to a single standard.

For Brian Marshall, mySAP.com offered a chance to get into a company-wide Internet solution for less than $100,000. Marshall is CIO of the 650-employee Westell Technologies, which makes telecom and network solutions for Bell operating companies and ISPs and already gets half its orders electronically from such large corporations as Bell Atlantic. Dial-in systems for the company were poking holes in its firewall, leading to costly or slow fixes, he says. Yet it took about six weeks to get the system running with mySAP and Marshall says he had a Web store operating in less than three weeks.

"The browser-based solution is ideal because you don't need a front-end designed for each user. There can be one for your employees, suppliers, customers," he says. "We saw this was where the market was going and viewed mySAP.com as our platform for change."

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