SAP to tout CRM, integration technology

SAP is hoping to woo its installed base next week by demonstrating to users how the latest enhancements to its software can help them cut operational IT costs and plow that money back into business innovations that can help a company grow.

SAP will deliver that message at its Sapphire '04 user conference in New Orleans, which is slotted to start Tuesday. As part of that message, the applications maker will be touting its integration, infrastructure and middleware technology, according to SAP America Inc. spokesman William Wohl.

"Most companies are struggling with a fundamental dynamic," he said. "How does a CIO make things happen where IT budgets are flat or declining?"

To that end, SAP will be showcasing its NetWeaver platform, which the company says can help companies link together heterogeneous applications to create seamless business processes.

While offering few details, Wohl also said SAP plans to unveil a new public-sector, industry-specific offering that recognizes "the strong requirements of governments needing to build business processes around defense and security." It will also announce a partnership with a large company to develop a CRM application specifically for global manufacturers of consumer packaged goods.

A couple of users planning to attend Sapphire want to see the new technologies SAP will be showcasing.

Lori Schock, global business process manager at chemical maker Dow Corning Corp, plans to learn more about NetWeaver and mySAP ERP, the next generation of SAP's R/3 ERP backbone. The show "will allow us to validate our architectural strategic intent," she said.

Dow Corning, which runs R/3 and SAP's portal, is piloting a NetWeaver rollout and plans to migrate from R/3 4.6 to mySAP Enterprise in the fourth quarter.

Schock also expects to learn more about SAP's radio-frequency identification technology -- "fact, fiction and future," she said.

Wohl said SAP will be showcasing the ways customers can use RFID with its applications.

SAP user Mike Perroni, vice president of IT at Halliburton Co. in Houston, has particular interest in the new Employee Self Service module, which will be in the next version of Enterprise Portal, a component of NetWeaver.

Perroni said he also wants to find out more about SAP's new Java development tool kit, which could be a potential replacement for SAP's proprietary Advanced Business Application Programming language, he said. Halliburton, an R/3 customer, provides energy and construction services.

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