SAP users keen on cuts, find fit confusing

SAP users are still deeply confused about how and where they are supposed to fit into the "new economy" the giant software vendor keeps talking about.

But deep licence discounts are convincing rising numbers to take a chance on, the next-generation product suite SAP says will get them there.

Organisations upgrading from R/3 to are locking in licence fee cuts of 50 per cent on average, says SAP Australia New Zealand CEO Chris Bennett.

That makes a compelling upgrade argument, according to figures unveiled this week at SAP's Sapphire 2000 Asia-Pacific conference. They showed 78 per cent of all SAP's Asia-Pacific sales were generated by licences in the quarter to June 30.

That was the highest takeup rate of any region in SAP's global operations, claimed SAP co-chairman Henning Kagermann.

About 150 organisations became users of which 30 were in Australia, Bennett said. A total of 90 Australian organisations were committed to and nearly 50 are either using it or have signed contracts.

The figures contradict claims from competitors that is dead in the water.

In his conference kick-off speech, Kagermann conceded it is still a challenge for users to understand how moves their businesses forward even though a year has elapsed since its introduction.

It is designed to transition R/3 users to a new suite of software integrating traditional enterprise applications (financials, HR, CRM, and the like) with an e-business platform.

Its four major features are Workplaces (enterprise portal software giving users a single point of Web access to all applications), Marketplaces (collaborative Internet hubs joining multiple enterprises), Business Scenarios (collaborative applications) and Applications Hosting.

The simplest one, Workplace, is the feature that the vast majority of current customers have implemented.

A convention floor survey showed R/3 users are having most trouble visualising how their organisations can use the collaborative Marketplace components of

SAP put some flesh on the concept when it went live during the convention with its mySAP Marketplace, an exchange for Australian businesses operated in partnership with Telstra.

The 11 initial participants of the exchange include Transfield, Amex, CSR, Qantas and TNT.

No transactions are yet flowing through the system, but it will encompass a greater variety of collaborative tasks than just e-procurement, according to SAP. Entry barriers will be kept low for mySAP Marketplace with payment based on transactions rather than large join-up fees, Bennett said.

* Pete Young writes for The Australian Industry Standard

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