SAP replaces leader of key product initiative

SAP has replaced the leader of a key in-house initiative supporting efforts to win new customers and migrate existing users of...

SAP has replaced the leader of a key in-house initiative supporting efforts to win new customers and migrate existing users of its flagship E/3 product to its new enterprise resource planning offering, mySAP ERP.

Thomas Baur has taken over from Bob Cummings as leader of the global ERP Initiative. SAP spokesman Markus Berner declined to say why SAP replaced Cummings, who will remain in the initiative but report to Baur.

Launched last year, the ERP initiative aims to support the sales, marketing and product development of the company's mySAP ERP software by providing services such as competitive intelligence and customer reference programmes. Two other initiatives focus on SAP's assault on the customer relationship management market and its new NetWeaver platform.

Berner stressed that although the initiatives provide crucial support in streamlining processes, they are not responsible for sales, marketing or product development. Responsibility for sales, he said, lies in the group's subsidiaries, while marketing is in the hands of its global marketing operations. Product development is the responsibility of designated product development teams.

"In the case of our CRM initiative, it was, initially, an issue of catching up with the competition," Berner said, adding that the three-year-old initiative has aligned different areas within SAP to help the company become a leading supplier of CRM solutions.

With ERP, the situation is slightly different. "We are already the market leader, so it's not about catching up," he said. "But it's comparable; it's looking for reference customers, studying the different situations in different countries and, in general, adding value to the sales process."

Berner declined to provide sales figures for mySAP ERP software, which launched early last year. At a presentation of the group's fourth-quarter results last month, Leo Apotheker, president of global field operations at SAP, said the company sees strong sales in mySAP ERP in new and existing customer bases.

SAP is offering financial incentives to encourage customers to upgrade to the newer product. Users who opt for mySAP ERP over the coming months can receive discounts of up to 75% against the cost of their R/3 software licence.

It has also informed customers that it intends to end maintenance service for the ageing enterprise application by 2009. At the start of this year, SAP dropped R/3 from its price list.

John Blau writes for IDG News Service

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