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SAP SCN Podcasts

Starting in December of 2007, Jon began a multi-year series of podcasts with the SAP SCN Community team. You can find them all on this page for easy downloading and text highlights.
Talking SAP On-Demand with SAP's John Wookey: An SAP SCN Community Podcast Print E-mail

podcastlogo_jonerp.gifPodcast: Listen Now!
Vendor Podcast - Discussing SAP's On-Demand Line of Business (LOB) Strategy with SAP's John Wookey
An SAP SCN Community Podcast
Hosted by Jon Reed of
Podcast Interview Date: January 5, 2011

"On-Demand" is the buzzword du jour, but what does it really mean to SAP customers? What is SAP doing to create on-demand applications that are in line with the collaborative workstyle of today's "social workforce?" And why is the upcoming Business ByDesign release (2.6) a key milestone for not only SME customers, but large enterprise SAP customers and their partners? 

In this special SAP Community Podcast, Jon gets into these questions (and more) with John Wookey, EVP, Large Enterprise OnDemand at SAP. During their 20 minute conversation, Wookey gives an inside view on the new design principles behind Sales OnDemand, the first SAP Line of Business (LOB) app built on the ByDesign (Platform as a Service) architecture. Wookey talks about the design challenges SAP faced along the way, and why you cannot simply move the Business Suite to the cloud if you want to build an effective on-demand solution. SAP's Siva Darivemula joins the podcast to talk about the ByD and on-demand communities forming at SCN, and how get get involved in the conversation. Editor's note: this podcast references the ByDesign and On Demand blog categories on SCN.

Podcast Highlights

1:20 Jon to Siva: What's the inspiration for this podcast? Siva: One of the things we are trying to do at SAP is to get our expertise more out in the community. SAP benefits from the unvarnished feedback. A bi-directional conversation helps the customer buying and implementation process and get more from the software investments, and to help customers and partners get a better handle on ByDesign. This podcast is part of a series of thought leadership podcasts and webcasts that we plan to get out into the community.

2:15 Jon to John: Sales OnDemand marks a whole new era of Line of Business OnDemand for SAP. I know when I saw the Sales OnDemand screens at the Influencer Summit, it was about the farthest thing from the classic SAP GUI I could have imagined. Can you tell us what is different about this product and what went into designing it?

John: We started with a different design philosophy. When we thought about the classic way that all software companies have built solutions, it was always around a fairly simple idea that you have a business process designed by a company, and the software is built around that business process, so it's all about optimizing that business process.

10/20/30 years ago, for the way companies operated, that was an effective approach. But the world has changed dramatically. People have changed. My first user was a lady who had never touched a computer before. Today's employee is much more technically sophisticated and is conversant using technology not only in their company but in the personal life. For them to be effective, they need software that anticipates how they want to work.

The principle for our OnDemand LOB group is about how we allow people to work more effectively towards the accomplishment of their business objectives, versus how to manage someone through a static business process. So how do we actually support people who do their work, broadening the vision beyond the business process. It could be anyone involved who touches on the business objective, whether it's the owner of a transaction or someone who was influenced by it.

People are surprised when they see the screens because it looks a whole lot more like a piece of social networking software than it does an enterprise business system, and that's the point. That' the style of business application people are comfortable with and use in their personal life every day. It's also the right kind of software for the kind of problem we are trying to solve, which is:

How to help people to connect, communicate, and collaborate - but the part that's different than pure social network software is that there is still a fundamental business objective you're trying to meet. With Sales OnDemand, you're trying to close a deal, with Service OnDemand, it will be trying to satisfy a customer support request, with Expense OnDemand, it will be helping you to make sure you make the right travel decisions. We're still focused on the business objective, but we're trying to do it in a way that's aligned with the current workforce we have.

5:50 Jon to John: You've had a chance to show off this product to the community - what kinds of responses are you getting? John: First, off, they have a similar reaction you did: "This doesn't look anything like enterprise software from SAP or anyone - this is more similar to the software I use in my personal life." It's interesting, because as I said, there is a bit of an age gap: those who are 20/30/40 just kind of get it. Older generations need more acclimation with it - those who don't use Facebook or LinkedIn need to get acclimated, but even if they are not a Facebook user, if you talk with them bout how they do their work, they are emailing, talking on the phone, texting, trying to build a connection.

What we've done is given them a system that understands they are trying to close a deal, but if they can manage their communication around customers and partners, in the end, they have something that's a very powerful tool. So while there's a different learning curve, they understand pretty quickly the power of the tool, and we're really trying to solve a much broader problem than enterprise applications have in the past.

7:50 Jon to John:  Is there a particular kind of customer that are best suited for these SAP LOB OnDemand apps - subsidiaries, industries? John: in terms of design approach, it's not limited on any customer size or industry, but within our group, we're focused on the large enterprise marketplace, that's where our large SAP Business Suite customer base in located.

These products are tightly integrated to the suite, so with a Sales OnDemand user, you have immediate access to the customers, invoices, and order information you have in the suite that you've invested so much into. It doesn't really exclude itself to a specific market segment or type of customer, but the one thing we have talked to customers around is that it's imperative to understand that one design basis of this s tool is connectivity and collaboration.

So we do ask them, "How ready is your workforce for this type of approach?" What we usually learn pretty quickly is that this is already happening in their workforces. In some cases, they have actually gone out and acquired consumer tools to do this, so they are trying to launch marketing campaigns and using Facebook to connect. Once they realize Sales OnDemand is a nice add-on to their enterprise apps and the type of tools they are already using, they understand the power of it doesn't really restrict it to type of industry and type of customer. It's more around the people making the decisions in terms of technology, do they really understand how their workforce is really working and how powerful this tool can be in supporting them.

10:20 As we speak, we're getting closer to the much-anticipated Business ByDesign 2.6 release, which includes the SDK for partner development. Why is this release so closely watched?

Interesting - ByDesign, when it was originally developed, was a very strong technology platform based on new computing models, such as a really nicely segmented architecture, powerful development platform, and strong business object model, but the initial development was for the Business ByDesign ERP suite application. Our group was really the first, staring almost a year ago now, that started building a different type of application. We were a test case for an application built on the ByDesign platform that was for the LOB suite. Our use of 2.6 in developing the LOB OnDemand apps will pave the way for our partners, using the partner tool kit, to extend the ByDesign suite or build new apps on the ByD platform.

Our entire development cycle building Sales on Demand was a bit more than six months, and we launch in two months, and that was with developers who had no experience using this different design principle. ByD's platform allowed use to build the UI we needed and leverage right business objects, as well as their analytics and mobile framework and integration platform. So we had a host of tools to draw on, which allowed us to focus on building our solution and not to worry about building underlying technology. With ByD 2.6, the great opportunity we see is to roll that to our partner community and let them extend the apps they are building, or build entire new categories of applications.

12:50 Jon to John: Clarifying from the influencer Summit: ByD is now part of a "unified" on-demand platform SAP is calling Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Sales OnDemand is the first LOB app built on this new platform using ByD (core) technology. John: that's an important point, correct. One key point from Peter Lorenz, who runs the OnDemand business group, is that we've made a really important commitment on-demand, whether it's the ByD suite and platform, the LOB apps, the OnDemand service infrastructure - we believe this is a crucial part of the tech industry for the foreseeable future, and we're investing in all areas: the cloud infrastructure layer, the full suite, and the LOB apps.

13:55: Jon to John: How do you envision the partner involvement? What is the best case scenario, in terms of a balance between SAP internally versus partners rounding out SAP's solutions? John: it tends to fall where the classic domain expertise falls. We are very good at building core ERP, CRM, and supply chain systems. We've had good success in large verticals like telecomm and public service, but there are a lot of industries we don't have domain expertise in. Sales OnDemand is very good solution for classic b2b selling models, but for example in pharma, it's more of an influence-based selling model, where reps supply to physicians but are not allowed to sell on a commissioned basis, so it's different sales process.

That's a good example of an industry where a partner, or a couple partners, could take a platform we have built and our tech and build specific solutions for the pharma industry - there are a number of partners out there who know more about the pharma industry than we do, and that's where we really see using partners as a way to extend the reach of partners into the marketplace and give them a chance to guild great business.

16:05 John's closing comment: SAP recognized very clearly that on-demand is not as simple as taking simple apps and hosting them. I still hear people talk about that in the marketplace and I think some larger vendors will look at that as on-demand grows much more quickly. If you're going to build an on-demand solution, you have to make the investment with the new design approaches - that's what's required to build an on-demand solution.

SAP is unique in that to build on-demand right, you have to do it from the ground up. That's what we've done with ByD and LOB on-demand. I think that's something important for people to be aware of. When I talk with customers, I say, that what we did was really built that way from the beginning, it's a very different approach. Jon to John: So we can put to rest that SAP is going to put the entire Business Suite in the cloud, line by line of ABAP code? John: Yes, I think we can put that to rest.

18:25 Jon to Siva: How can listeners get involved with the on-demand conversation on the SAP Community Network? Siva: We are launching a community that should be available to the broader public in a few months or so, and we want the community to share their opinions. We want to know if what we're doing is on the mark and what they want to learn more about. From blogs or discussions, we want to hear from the community, we want these resources to be valuable to the community. 


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