ERP integration is lure for IT chiefs

Vista may be stealing the headlines, but it is its companion Office 2007 that is attracting the most interest from corporate IT departments, as Microsoft unveils the two products.

Vista may be stealing the headlines, but it is its companion Office 2007 that is attracting the most interest from corporate IT departments, as Microsoft unveils the two products.

Possibly the biggest change to Office applications is their ability to act as the interface to enterprise software from the likes of SAP and Oracle, as well as Microsoft's own Dynamics enterprise applications.

The idea of using Office as an interface onto back-end enterprise systems, such as SAP and Oracle, is already beginning to find favour among IT chiefs.

One IT director of a global company said, "People are familiar with the Office interface and they find it difficult to adapt to interfaces for enterprise resource planning applications. So integrating ERP or CRM with Office should make it easier for users and save on training."

But not all IT directors agree that integrating Office into back-office applications is a good thing. "I see no benefit having enterprise integration defined by Microsoft - its track record is not one to be proud of in this area," said one IT manager.

Many users are looking at integrating the Sharepoint 2007 groupware platform into ­Office 2007 to allow staff to share information from within Office applications.

Kevin Kincaid, IS development manager at property services firm Telereal, said that of all the Vista releases "upgrading to Office 2007 is probably the easiest case to make".

"We are in the process of upgrading our Sharepoint 2003-based intranet/extranet to Sharepoint 2007, and Office 2007 will complement a lot of the new functionality that ­results from the upgrade," he said.

"Office 2007 also removes certain limitations found in the current version of, for example, Excel. Vista is not as straightforward while it has a lot of new and enhanced features, there is no single compelling argument to upgrade right now."

Owen Williams, group head of IT at estate agent Knight Frank, said, "Microsoft Office 2007 and Windows Sharepoint Services solutions appear interesting and do form part of our future plans. But there is not a compelling business reason for us to upgrade to these versions in the immediate future."

More on Office 2007

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