SAPPHIRE: Henning Kagermann Keynote

I watched the general keynote this morning from the press room rather than finding my place amongst the 15,000 attendees; the first hour covered other announcements, but we did see about 10 minutes on the upcoming BPM product. Since a lot of the audience was likely unfamiliar with BPM, this was a pretty high-level architectural view plus a quick demo of the process modeler and services/rules integration, accompanied by the proclamation "you can change the process without changing code!" This message on the benefit of BPM would be have been fresh 5 years ago, but although it’s likely new to a lot of SAP customers, it shows that SAP is definitely playing catch-up in BPM. As I mentioned yesterday, this year’s release of SAP’s BPM will offer little advantage over using a more established BPMS with SAP (and in fact might be less functional), but they’ll hit the sweet spot with the future releases that have a tight integration with SAP core applications.

The demo theme throughout the keynote was feeding information to a portal/dashboard from multiple sources, including their core applications and BPM.

The message across the keynote is one that resonates with what we’ve been seeing in BPM for a while: transparency into business operations, agility in business processes, collaboration amongst stakeholders, and less coding required for implementation. Add this to the strength that SAP has in building software for running enterprises, and it’s pretty powerful. Whether they can shift from a legacy of highly-customized rigid ERP applications to this new world of flexible composite applications remains to be seen.

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