SAP has made the biggest enhancement yet to its enterprise portal though it may be the wrong time to launch such a tool, say users.
SAP’s portal tool, Enterprise Portal 5.0, is designed to give access to relevant transactional systems and databases, web content and services, data warehouses and unstructured documents from a single window. But a number of delegates at the SAPphire 2001 user conference in Brisbane last week suggested it is the wrong time to put such a major development into the market.
With economies and business at a low ebb, CEOs would be unwilling to spend on such a tool with an accompanying slew of SAP consultancy to set it up, they say, unless they have a small target area to productively apply it in the short term and enough confidence in medium-term business to wait for its broader value.
Enterprise Portal 5.0 represents a 100% boost on the functionality of the previous version, 4.0, says the head of SAP’s portals company, Shai Agassi. SAP Portals, founded in April, comes from SAP’s takeover of Agassi’s company, Top Tier.
“For the first time, we can integrate multiple collections of documents from different sources and check them out, read and update them and do version control on them as though they were part of the same collection,” Agassi says.
“Out of the box”, the portal has access to information coming in through a range of major databases and applications. “If you are a pure SAP user, there will not be much effort needed [to accommodate the portal to your needs]” and outside applications are provided for with a little more effort with standard “unifiers”. Some data sources might require specially written unifiers.
The unstructured document management relies heavily on a partnership with Yahoo, which is expert at developing taxonomies — systematic classifications — for such data.