Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What Does it Mean to Have an SAP-Centric EDI and B2B Environment?

SAP's strategy and new paradigm for EDI and B2B is called Business Network Transformation. SAP's solutions like SNC (Supplier Network Collaboration) and TMS (Transportation Management System) are dependent on successful communications with large numbers of trading partners. The B2B communication component becomes a critical part of the success and ROI of these solutions and is best served by being tightly integrated with the rest of SAP's products and strategies.

SAP's Business Network Transformation strategy is an interesting and different paradigm because it takes an SAP-centric approach to EDI and B2B. What does EDI and B2B look like from an SAP-centric view? It starts with the following:

  • In 2008, SAP made a significant investment in a rapidly growing company that owns and operates Europe's largest managed EDI and B2B services HUB called Crossgate.
  • Crossgate's services are developed and operated on SAP's Netweaver platform. This is now SAP's recommended EDI and B2B managed services (BPO) solution globally today.
  • SAP/Crossgate are now developing multi-year roadmaps for EDI and B2B integration solutions for all SAP components that consume and produce EDI and B2B messages
  • Pre-configured EDI and B2B services are being uploaded and published to SAP's ESR (Enterprise Services Repository) for reusability and customization.
  • SAP users can use and implement new business processes and associated EDI and B2B services in an on-demand SaaS or IaaS model by simply requesting the SAP/Crossgate service and designating messages and trading partners to activate.
  • SAP's Global Data Types are being used to normalize the semantics and syntax of data across the SAP environment and they are also being incorporated into the SAP/Crossgate EDI and B2B Automated Business Exchange.
  • As new software applications and upgrades are released by SAP, the SAP/Crossgate EDI/B2B services will be released to support them. For example, Transportation Management (TMS) and Supplier Network Collaboration (SNC) have full SAP/Crossgate EDI/B2B message roadmaps. These defined EDI and B2B messages will be available for TMS and SNC customers on-demand in the ESR.
  • Part of SAP's strategy may be influenced by their "best run businesses" motto. SAP is designing ways to enable the implementation and management of EDI/B2B to be far simplier, less costly and easier for SAP customers than users of other ERPs.
  • SAP/Crossgate customers will benefit from the EDI/B2B connections made by other SAP users on the network. Each new trading partner connection added to the SAP/Crossgate network will then be available for reuse by other SAP users connected to the network. The benefits and economies of scale presented by this model are fun to watch.
  • Many traditional EDI vendors and EDI hubs have chosen to compete with SAP in the areas of supply chain management, transportation management and a growing list of business process areas. SAP is not only defending their territory but aggressively supporting new and more effective implementation strategies and SaaS and IaaS models for EDI and B2B that leverage their Netweaver platforms and future product architectures and roadmaps.
SAP customers committed to consolidating and simplifying their IT environments around SAP solutions will want to carefully consider the Business Network Transformation strategy articulated by Jim Hagemann Snabe, member, SAP Executive Board at last years Sapphire and in 2009.

SAP will not be passive and let traditional EDI vendors and industry EDI Hubs take business away from them. Communicating with external business networks (trading partners) is critical to the success of SAP's SNC, TMS, orders-to-cash and procure-to-pay business processes. SAP seems to view these communications and B2B infrastructures now as critical components to both their success and their customers'.

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail please email me.

EDI, B2B, Cloud Computing and Business Process Automation - http://b2b-bpo.blogspot.com/

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