Sapphire: Plattner promises lower total cost of ownership

Hasso Plattner, co-chairman and chief executive of SAP, has used his keynote speech at the Sapphire conference in Portugal to...

Hasso Plattner, co-chairman and chief executive of SAP, has used his keynote speech at the Sapphire conference in Portugal to provide an insight into how SAP is evolving.

"Everybody is challenged to rethink strategies and lower costs," said Plattner. "We're no exception."

One of the main goals of a chief information officer today is to lower total cost of ownership (TCO), said Plattner, conceding that SAP has not always been helpful on this front in the past. "Maybe we got slightly out of hand with over-consuming servers in the past," he said. "So we designed mySAP to fit in one box with one database: this results in real cost savings."

Customers demand open standards and SAP will continue delivering systems built on these, according to Plattner. Although the company must develop software to run on operating systems built by Microsoft, equally it must create products "for non-Microsoft platforms, like open source systems," he said. "We would be foolish to limit ourselves to any one system," Plattner added.

Plattner was critical of the company's problems personalising menus for its front-end applications. "I'm sorry to say that all our users still have only one menu," he said. "This is not an option. We need to personalise our menu and we will."

In a push to make systems more flexible and personal, SAP will focus heavily on its portal strategy, according to Plattner. Portals, he said, are an ideal way to deliver user-specific front-end applications. Relating to this, the company will be making some major product announcements in the months ahead, he said.

In the same breath, Plattner highlighted the company's push into cross applications that allow business processes to seamlessly cross company departments and systems. "These are another example of the flexibility and adaptability we're striving for," he said.

The biggest surprise for delegates was Plattner's focus on service. SAP has every intention of delivering more services than it has in the past, Plattner said. "We have to be able to adapt our systems to customers' individual needs," he said. "We need to be there as consultants and programmers to help build intelligent solutions for all departments, not just one."

Particularly with its mySAP portal technology, SAP must become "way more involved in projects," Plattner said. "We're definitely going to offer more service because our customers demand it. We need to go that extra step, but we're not going to turn around and become a service provider."

In addition, Plattner said the company is committed to research with no plans to cut back, despite a cost-cutting program to cope with weak software spending.

As to speculation that he might take early retirement, Plattner said: "it's the nature of the aging process that I will retire some day, so go on speculating".

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