SAP To Speed Sale of Goods Via Web; Unveils 'Solution Maps'

SAP AG, the leader in the enterprise applications software market, wants to help its customers buy and sell each other's products over the Internet. At the recent SAPphire customer conference in Nice, France, Hasso Plattner, cochairman of the Walldorf, Germany-based software giant, unveiled plans to establish an "open marketplace" called "mySAP.com" later this year. "We see opportunities for industry-specific networks under this open market," Plattner said. Some two dozen large companies already have signed on to participate in the SAP marketplace, including Compaq Computer Corp., Steelcase Inc., IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., General Mills Inc., and AlliedSignal Inc. As an example, Plattner mentioned aircraft suppliers, oil and gas products, utilities, and high-tech products as being likely industry-specific networks of suppliers and purchasers that would use the SAP online marketplace to buy and sell goods. The marketplace will, in effect, be a portal that SAP will host for Internet-based purchasing by its customers. The idea, Plattner said, is that SAP's 10 million users at its 20,000 R/3 sites would use the marketplace to purchase goods for their firms. "MySAP.com will change the image of SAP," Plattner added. Discounting reports in the press that "ERP is dead," Plattner said that, to the contrary, ERP is needed more than ever in an Internet-based world. "The days for the ERP systems are not over," he told an audience estimated at 8,000 people. "The ERP systems are actually the prerequisite for business on the Internet." SAP also unveiled its Industry Solution Maps, a series of 19 outlines showing how companies in particular industries can use the software to enhance their business over time. "Now we are focusing on the complete life cycle of the customer, with the recognition that the customer must continually improve operations," explained Henning Kagermann, co-chairman of SAP. "The Solution Maps have built-in benchmarks or targets for the customer to get the most out of the software."

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