MySAP gets a vote of confidence in Asia

SAP AG's technology for collaborative business portals, Marketplace, got a vote of confidence in the Asian region after 11 leading Australian companies announced at SAPPHIRE 2000, SAP's regional users meet at Brisbane, that they will enter the Marketplace set up by Australian telecommunications company Telstra Corp.

In alliance with SAP, the new online Marketplace brings together service providers such as Qantas Airways. National Australia Bank, American Express Co., Citibank and TNT, and buyers and sellers of products and services. However, the Marketplace is open to any other participants, including competitors of the initial members, according to Gerry Sutton, Telstra's executive director for emerging businesses.

SAP is also working with Telstra to broaden the Marketplace to include participants from Asia as well, said Les Hayman, president and CEO of SAP Asia Pacific. In addition, more Marketplaces will come up in Asia this year, according to Martin Breuer, senior vice president for marketing and regional support at SAP Asia Pte Ltd, In another development, SAP has also formed an alliance with Telstra and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to host SAP's enterprise resource planning (ERP) package, R/3, for application services providers (ASPs) in Australia and New Zealand.

SAP plans to announce similar tie-ups with other telecommunications companies worldwide, as the telecom companies have a distinct advantage in the ASP market because they have access to customers and their loyalty by virtue of their telephone services, Henning Kagermann, co-chairman and chief executive office of SAP AG, told the press here. Kagermann added that since the telecom companies do not have the software implementation and customisation expertise, SAP expects ASP initiatives around SAP solutions to typically involve partnerships among telecom companies, business consultancy firms, and systems integrators.

A key theme at SAPPHIRE 2000 Brisbane was that dot-com companies have set up their business-to-business or business-to-consumer Web front ends without streamlining the back end. As companies try to get more efficient at the back end, said Kagermann, that will translate into more demand for ERP solutions from SAP.

"Our product and solutions strategy is to help companies to make the transition into a collaborative, Internet based world," added Breuer. "This is basically our, which combines a strong back end with interoperability with other business partners."

Next year, SAP plans to offer its customer relationship management (CRM) application as a stand-alone product that can be integrated easily with ERP back-end solutions other than from SAP, added Satyavrath Krishnaswamy, director for business development-CRM at SAP Asia Pte. If in the past, SAP favored developing everything in-house, the company, said Breuer, now believes that in the new Internet world a single company cannot do everything.

"Our value-add is in R&D and our process knowledge, which is our understanding how companies do business within and with other companies," added Breuer. "In the enterprise it was a different ball game. We were strong and did a lot. The new world is all about collaboration, and we are looking at pieces of technology that we can build into platform to enhance the offering." SAP AG and its subsidiary SAPMarkets Inc recently invested in California-based Commerce One, and has set up joint R&D centres to bring SAP solutions on to Commerce One's marketplace architecture.

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