SAP’s NetWeaver has an interview with SAP’s rising star and possible future CEO, Shai Agassi, who talks about NetWeaver as being the future platform:

I think NetWeaver is our next foundation–just like three-tier client server was our foundation 10 years ago. NetWeaver is our foundation for the next 10 years.

One of the things we’re doing this time is we’re bringing in our technology platform, which is sort of our secret sauce for how the applications are so robust and scalable. But we’re opening up the platform so that people can build with it, including other players in the industry, such as integrators or developers.

Agassi also talks of integration and web services:

What’s new is we’re starting to see the emergence of very few players that have all the integration facets in one platform. It’s almost like the car industry. We go from the thousands of players to very, very few–five or six–that can actually put in one platform, fully pre-integrated. And that is a very big change, because when you get to a complete solution, you move from early adopters to people who like to dabble and build to the Main Street–the people who have to have it. And we look at five to 10 times growth in any market when that happens.

That means that instead of seeing ERP, CRM, SCM (supply chain management), PLM (product lifecycle management), HR (human resources) and you name it–all these buzzwords in the application space, shipping as separate entities–you will see a collection of services–in the vicinity of tens of thousands of services.

For the techies, this creates a whole new wave of innovation. They can build on a whole new platform. The CEOs are excited for a very simple reason. It changes the total cost-of-ownership equation. Integration has become the highest cost of IT in most of the companies you see today in any industry. If you can find the formula that actually reduced the cost of operation through preintegration of these layers, then you save a lot in operational costs that you can then invest back into innovation.

A lot of people talked about the improvements in supply chain–cutting four of five days out of a 16-day process. But you look at innovation in product definition and product design, and you may actually cut three to six months out of a 12-month cycle. The impact on a company is significantly bigger.

We’re moving now into a well-defined process that allows me to do it in a predictable and sustainable way across my businesses, across the world–from the design to the launch of a product, from recruiting people to a postmortem on projects, from premerger deal rooms to a postmerger reorganization. There are all these processes that we’ve never done before.

As we do the development of Emergic Enterprise and Visual Biz-ic, we need to keep these points in mind. Learn from companies like SAP, and apply these ideas in the context of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the emerging markets.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.