In what was billed as the "next generation" of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, SAP earlier this month took the shrink-wraps off several specific software applications designed to work in concert with its popular R/3 core ERP software. These include advanced planning and optimization, sales force automation, electronic commerce, and a data warehouse.
SAP also announced a new technology called liveCache, a memory-resident object database that will enable production planners and sales managers to execute sophisticated, data-intensive functions swiftly from their desktop PCs. For instance, liveCache, the company says, will make it possible for a sales representative to perform comprehensive available-to-promise calculations during a phone conversation with a customer. "Our goal is to create a nimble responsiveness in planning and execution," SAP America CEO Paul Wahl told IndustryWeek.
"The Sales Force Automation (system) will help the sales manager and the sales person, who will have the opportunity to access the other SAP systems in realtime," says Hasso Plattner, co-chairman and CEO of SAP AG, based in Walldorf, Germany.
Ultimately, by putting the power of SAP's integrated information system in the hands of larger numbers of users, the software firm expects to increase its penetration of its existing customer base. "This is really extending the reach of SAP into many parts of the organization, so that everyone will have a need to use SAP," says Bruce Richardson, vice president at Advanced Manufacturing Research, a leading information technology research firm in Boston