SAP Cofounder Vows To Simplify R/3

SAP AG, the world's leading provider of enterprise software for business, is taking to heart what customers have said about its software -- it's too complicated for many business people to learn and use. Speaking before a crowd of more than 15,000 people at the Los Angeles Conference Center recently, the Walldorf, Germany-based firm's CEO, Hasso Plattner, vowed to improve ease of use of the flagship system, R/3, so that more people will be able to use it to help perform a variety of business activities beyond mere transactions, such as sales lead tracking, development of marketing plans, and providing customer support. "A lot of users delegated the software back to others, such as secretaries," says Plattner, the company's cochairman, cofounder, and technology leader, who confessed that, "I am not using the software any more because it's too complex." In a move to further segment its software products by industry, SAP also unveiled Solution Maps, industry templates tailored for some 17 different businesses, among them automotive, high tech, telecommunications, media, oil and gas, and aerospace. The Solution Maps address unique industry requirements and specific business processes, and are designed to help companies visualize, plan, and implement their information technology to support them. "For so many years we focused on generic solutions, but this is not enough anymore," Plattner says. "We want to provide a complete solution for various industries." In addition, SAP's new Focus initiative, also announced at the firm's annual U.S.-based SAPphire trade show, will offer software spanning the full life cycle of customer relationships, from marketing analysis and planning to sales and order management to customer service and support.

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