I have been asked to write a blog about what do you use from the SAP ByDesign platform “technical architecture”, and I am happy to take a look into that. But thinking about it more, and it possibly will be disappointing for the technical gurus under us; I decided to look at it from the eyes of our co-innovation customers. And hey, it will open the opportunity for another blog on this with my colleague and partner in crime Rainer Zinow and Oliver Bussmann – but more to that later.
But back to the question, “what did you use from the platform SAP ByDesign”… first and simple answer – everything. It is the most modern platform in the PaaS world as of today if you think about serious applications that support business processes and delivers services, either connected with your system of records, or stand-alone.
Why should someone that is interested in servicing a line of business, be it sales, service, talent management or travel – just to name a few – start to develop on a platform that has no proven track record of following top 3 areas:
- One: delivering close to all objects and processes someone needs to build application in multiple domains fast, without building it from scratch - as it has proven in practice that it can run services for multiple domains – not just one niche area, maybe even a suite?
- Two: having a mature backbone for scalability, as even if some domain areas and tasks are specific, in SaaS it is all about starting smaller and scale fast while not being trapped in a niche “technology”
- And three: configurability, to be able to adapt to specific wishes and circumstances without forcing the customer in heavy coding or 3rd party services right from the start, like: “well if you want that area, go to partner xyz”
But let´s go back to what I hear our customers saying, and as we are running an intensive co-innovation program for Line of Business OnDemand at SAP, the platform and it´s value to customers do play a role. I have customers who visit us to “see their cloud”, and I do not mean that dismissive at all – they want to check if IaaS, PaaS and last but not least the service they sign up for (SaaS) “is safe/secure/scalable/prooven”.
I would argue in the On Demand world we are all in this together. Delivering a service through the cloud is for many customers still an area where trust, stability and reliability play a major role. Good that we can provide a proof point – we bring them to one of our data centers around the world (actually we are running one of the largest data centers in Europe for our On Demand business) and we let them experience what security and reliability means. Hey, here I have another idea for the next blog with my colleague Oliver Bussmann, CIO from SAP who oversees this are – some nice statistics and information about certification and more. Interested?
So the first major point of usage from SAP ByDesign platform is – security and scalability. This goes far beyond the certification logos you see often, it is also how fast future innovation, like connectivity of hybrid landscapes and In-Memory computing are inherited in the platform. Oliver, we need to write a blog here…
Now to develop a service, a product delivered via the cloud, an On Demand offering that delivers value to our customers fast. Apart from how you develop (watch out for some upcoming blogs about co-innovation 2.0), the platform has a significant impact on how fast and scalable you can deliver. And just imagine, you have a platform which let´s say has some good capabilities around SFA, but you very soon realize that there are adjacent areas where you need to provide services around let´s say – financials, supply chain… Customers do appreciate that possibility to expand on a need basis and of course integrate to their business suite when needed.
Do you need thousands and thousands of objects and tables, data structure and processes for this, like a business suite we do provide – for sure not. SAP ByDesign offers us an option that is by far leaner than that. But how about you need to “connect” your sales data with your talent management to find the right people with the right expertise to close collaborate, or you realize that lead to opportunity is good, but your order needs to be processed, a proposal been made, a product been shipped and an invoice been paid? I don´t think you want to leave an environment and have a next partner to build new objects on a native platform, with different behavior and not compatible? And even worse, with a different user experience? Not even thinking about to force a partner or even a customer to build on a platform that is in a niche and you again are left to 3rd party to make the next step.
Concrete, if you see that it is important to see your orders and shipments for a specific customer, leverage all the objects given in the platform SAP ByDesign and connect them to your system of records. The later by the way not a simple task as some out there claim and point you again to a 3rd party service. So if stand-alone is your approach, even there a viable set of objects and processes are needed beyond the niche you started to build your service and being able to expand.
So the second major advantage of the SAP ByDesign platform is the fact that we can expand to adjacent areas - take SAP Sales OnDemand as an example- and having the intelligence and structure of a suite as a given. With this we are able to mainly to focus on customer value on top of that platform and build native collaborative solutions that address the needs of end-users and solves their business problem first – but keeps integrity and orchestration beyond in mind.
I am very convinced that the world is and will stay hybrid for a foreseeable future, a combination of software that the customer owns (on premise) and services that a customer rents (on demand) so your platform should have the DNA to deliver exactly this.
That brings me to the third area, which for me are mobility (on device) and the user experience that goes along with that. We are leveraging the capabilities of SAP By Design´s support of mobile devices, which I can tell you (mobility) is not only key part of our customers strategy, I tend to observe no software as a service will survive without thinking about mobility. Coming from Design Thinking, I would even argue let´s think mobility first - you do build the better user experience and can come back to more specific user interfaces afterwards. But this is yet another blog…
“It is hard to make ugly software on an iPAD”, my boss boss did tell us at the beginning of the development, and he was right. Beside the superior user experience that a sales representative expects on his gizmo – Android, Apple or BlackBerry to just mention the most common – you can also leverage capabilities that those devices provide you. Examples like geo location come very handy, if your platform allows that.
So finally let us look ahead. And Rainer, I will ping you for a blog on this one. Assuming we have the ingredients mentioned above, what is next and what will we re-use going forward? As said before, all innovation coming around extensibility, flexibility and scale, like for example In Memory computing we will be able to leverage – but there are topics on the agenda where customers and partners will take advantage right now – the top 3?
- Extensibility – the possibility not only to adapt screens, fields and workflows, but to mash up services from different domain areas with a consistent user experience. This we do see as a common pattern going forward
- Custom development – either for partners or for customers themselves – via an SDK (should I say Service Development Kit?) that enables them to build on top of what we provide, for example an industry or regional specific extension
- Commercial platform – if as a partner I do build on that platform, how will I be able to bring this to market, globally? Here you could leverage the On Demand Commercial platform we are providing - stay tuned for more as the eco-system we do have is one of the strongest and most reliable in the industry
To summarize - if you have expected a technical description about what we do re-use, sorry for that. But I hope that the priorities I hear from customers do match with what you hear too. If not, please let me know.
If you are interested, get involved via http://sales.ondemand.com and apply to co-innovate with us.