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SAP SCN Podcast Transcripts

Starting in December of 2007, Jon began a multi-year series of podcasts with the SAP SCN Community team. Many of these have their own transcripts, which you can view here. If you want to check out all the SAP SCN podcasts and download them, go to the SAP SCN Podcast Page.
Engaging Users with Chemicals@BPX - Podcast Transcription Print E-mail
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Podcast Transcription: Engaging Users with Chemicals@BPX: A BPX Community Podcast with Natalie Bernzen of SAP
Hosted by Jon Reed of
Podcast Interview Date: October 8, 2009

Jon Reed: Welcome to this SAP/BPX Community podcast. I'm your host, Jon Reed, of and joining me today is Natalie Bernzen, who is the Solution Manager for IBU Chemicals at SAP. We're here to talk about the Chemicals at BPX community, as well as some new functionality that is impacting SAP users in the chemical industry, such as SAP MII and how Chemicals at BPX can play a role in helping users to better understand the new solutions.

We're also going to hear about some of the new activity happening now at Chemicals at BPX and how listeners can get involved. Natalie, let's start off by having you tell us a little more about your role at SAP and your involvement with Chemicals at BPX.

Natalie Bernzen: As you said, Jon, I'm a Solution Manager in IBU Chemicals, which stands for Industry Business Unit. Our role is to focus basically on two areas, one being product delivery for the chemical industry. Within this area, it's our role to understand the industry challenges, the needs of our customers and to translate those into product requirements and specifications. Then we work with development to realize those, as in product quality testing and so forth.

Another role of Solution Management is to take the knowledge about these new products and roll it out to our field organizations, partners, customers, as well as to analysts. That's my role. For that I focus, like the other Solution Managers, on several areas; my key areas are mid-market and the manufacturing area. Specifically at the moment I'm working on a new project: batch manufacturing with SAP MII (Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence).

Reed: For those who have never visited Chemicals at BPX, what are you trying to accomplish in this community and what do you hope visitors can both gain from and contribute to the community?

Bernzen: What we're trying to do with BPX for Chemicals is build a community in the chemical industry. We want to provide a platform to share information and knowledge with our customers, partners, experts, people with insight, trend leaders. We also want to use it as a key place to exchange information on business trends, to get a little bit more information on key topics, and to understand challenges and how to better address them from a business perspective with industry solutions. We cover a whole array of areas and have all sorts of tools and areas within our BPX to support knowledge transfer, answering questions and so forth.

Reed: One of the main areas of focus of Chemicals at BPX is the mid-market. Can you tell us, first of all, some of the issues that chemical companies in the mid-market are facing and how you envision Chemicals at BPX helping them?

Bernzen: The challenges for mid-market customers are very similar, actually, to large enterprise customers. They're facing the same challenges, whether it's the fact that they have a mature industry and have to face globalization, complex supply chains; whether they have pressures with margins reducing, time to market pressure, high operational costs, volatile raw materials; or pressures to support compliance and new regulatory requirements.

The difference is not the challenges themselves but the fact that mid-market companies have lower budgets and fewer resources, specifically on the IT side to support implementation of an IT solution. So they're looking more for a solution that will fit their needs and budget, a solution they can implement rapidly with low risk and hopefully at low cost.

What they can find in the BPX area is a host of information to better understand how our mid-market solution can help them address their challenges. For example, what scenarios and solution offerings we have to help them grow and expand; face the challenges of globalization, of collaborating with supply chain partners; how they can help maximize product profitability; what we offer with regard to supporting innovation management or portfolio management, reporting, analysis capabilities, forecasting capabilities, planning and so on.

So, they can really understand how software can help them in their business to better support their challenges and address their needs. The goal is for them to have a more efficient business right across the board, whether it's from product innovation, purchasing, sales, manufacturing or their financial report. What we offer at BPX is a wiki with a whole load of information so they understand how they can improve business and what our solutions cover.

We have two solutions, and we also answer questions on things like what country versions these solutions come in, what partners we have in our ecosystem that are experts in these solutions that will be able to help with implementation and what financing options we have.

Reed: You talked a little bit about the wikis. What are some of the areas in Chemicals at BPX that users can get involved with to learn more about these issues and perhaps make a contribution themselves?

Bernzen: There are several areas in the BPX for Chemicals. One is an area for blogging. Anyone can blog; customers, partners, analysts, thought leaders, SAP experts. We invite anybody to blog, provide insight, share information, provide an overview, or even trigger discussion. The blog area is important especially if you have a new topic to discuss.

We also have the Chemical Industry Forum, which is the perfect place to post your business or solution questions and get fast answers from the community. That community could be SAP, partners or other experts. Questions that are being put there in the last month are around the hot topics of reach and also on Best Practices for chemicals, which is our mid-market solution.

We also have a wiki area where you can find much more comprehensive information on hot topics: transportations, reach, mid-market. We also have roundtables, which are particularly good for collaboration. Collaboration on a new topic allows you to share documents, to have a discussion, get input from project members and basically, within the BPX for Chemicals, depending on our need, we use all of these tools to engage in community discussion.

Reed: Earlier in the podcast, you mentioned SAP MII, which is an area of SAP that a lot of users have interest in right now. For those who are still trying to understand its impact, can you tell us about its functionality and why it's relevant for chemicals companies?

Bernzen: What I mentioned is a new area within SAP MII. Going a few steps back, SAP MII is basically a solution that integrates the enterprise manufacturing layer, supports the middle manufacturing operations layer and integrates with the automation layer. It's important to be able to synchronize the planning and the actual data within the manufacturing areas so you have synchronized plans, actual consistent data and also visibility. Visibility about actual production performance, specific KPI's, whether it's quality, yield and so forth.

This product is being used with many different customer implementations, but this is being used more today, up till now, to help integration and also to help get the right intelligence in place and analytics.

One of the areas we've been working on very well with the forum is a new development project to extend the SAP MII solution with preconfigured best practice templates and content. Our goal is to support not just creating intelligence in dashboards and getting the integration in place between these very distributive systems in manufacturing, but to also support manufacturing execution - the manufacturing operations processes themselves.

Reed: Within the Chemicals at BPX area you're going to have new tools and resources around SAP MII as well?

Bernzen: We are using the BPX for Chemicals area for several things. We've been working with the project team very closely here, so we've been using a roundtable to be able to share documents, to share use cases and specifications, project plans.

We also have a roundtable that is closed, but we invite customers to participate (you can address me). We share our development plans there, too, along with our development products, use cases, our specifications, and we get input on where the priorities should be, to guide us on what needs to be in the development and the delivery of the product. That's what we've been using it for up until now.


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