While serving as a standard business platform, SAP designed R/3 to be adaptable to customers’ changing business needs. Two good examples of this are the hundreds of complementary software solutions created by SAP’s partners, and the creation of R/3 3.1–SAP’s Internet-enabled version of R/3–in less than nine months.
Taschek’s statement about SAP sales cycles assumes that selecting R/3 is as easy as selecting a spreadsheet at a local computer store. In fact, SAP sales cycles often require a significant length of time. Because R/3 is a business-critical application, all of our customers rely on its stability and data integrity.
The process of selecting and implementing R/3 varies widely. Dozens of companies have brought R/3 “live” in as little as four months using SAP’s rapid-implementation methodology. In January 1997, 60 percent of the 750 companies that went live with R/3 did it in 10 months or less.
Taschek’s inference that R/3 is proprietary is flatly incorrect: R/3 has always incorporated key industry standards.
Lastly, rather than being a technical interface specification, SAP’s Business APIs serve as conduits for exchanging business logic and information between R/3 and complementary applications. In reality, SAP’s BAPIs offer far greater long-term stability and simplicity than competitive solutions.
Paul Wahl, president SAP America Inc., Wayne, Pa.
I am answering John Taschek’s call for satisfied SAP users. I could not disagree more with Taschek’s assessment of SAP. We experienced none of the nightmarish aspects of implementing SAP that were described in the article.
We began the sales process with SAP in January 1995, closed the deal the first week of March, began implementation in mid-April, and went live with three substantial functional modules of SAP in seven manufacturing facilities four and a half months later–on Sept. 7, 1995. The consulting costs were less that $300,000.
Pacific Coast Feather Co. has realized significant payback from our implementation of SAP. We have reduced order turnaround time and improved customer service levels, significantly improved our inventory control and improved efficiency in accounting by reducing tasks that took weeks into tasks that now require minutes. We are now, thanks to SAP, able to provide real-time information to management in a flexible, meaningful way which contributes to strategic decision making.
I have worked with business application software for 20 years and I think SAP is the best thing to happen to business systems since the computer. SAP has created business applications which, for the first time ever, are able to take advantage of state-of-the-art technology. They have eliminated the gap between technological possibilities and business application realities.
I have no concerns about their ability to stay ahead of the pack with regard to conducting business over the Internet.
Gwen Babcock, MIS director Pacific Coast Feather Co., Seattle
I see the options a little differently than Rob O’Regan (“A Grumpy Microsoft Goes in Search of a Caffeine Fix,” April 28).
Option 1: “Microsoft can continue to parry with JavaSoft over control of the Java platform. But that’s a battle Microsoft is destined to lose …”
I expect more parrying and I doubt very much that Microsoft will lose. Microsoft has an excellent Java product in Visual J++. Symantec has an excellent product in Visual Café. Although Sun’s Java Workstation is a great product by comparison to other Unix tools, it is still way behind these other products.
No matter how fast Java goes to a standards committee, the market will be ahead of the standard. Delaying the standard buys time for Sun to change the core specs, but also opens the door for the market to move away from them.
Option 2: “It can move whole-hog to Java, rewriting the core Windows technologies to support that platform.”
Java is not nearly as powerful as C++, nor is it anywhere near as fast. Java offers nothing for the Windows OS. It can be used for application development and as it matures it could challenge C++. More likely, it will be another tool in a good developer’s toolbox.
Option 3: “Microsoft will try to convince customers that the Internet is one part of the enterprise, not vice-versa, and that to be successful in the enterprise, companies need a full-blown operating platform that includes Windows 95 on the desktop and NT on the back end. This is a risky proposition.”
This is not a risky proposition. The real story here is not that Java will replace Windows as an OS. (It isn’t, so it won’t.)
As for Bill and Co. being up at night, they’re not worrying that Java will displace Windows. Rather, someone had a good idea before they did and they are trying to make as much as they can on what’s left.