Company reshapes vision and software to tackle interorganization Web collaboration

Company reshapes vision and software to tackle interorganization Web collaboration

BY Thomas R. Temin

GCN Staff

PHILADELPHIA'Say goodbye to R/3 from SAP AG of Walldorf, Germany. The company has renamed its enterprise resource planning software'' Company chairman Hasso Plattner told government and corporate customers at the Sapphire user group conference here last month that the new moniker signals inter-organization, Web-based collaboration functions., which retains the Version 4.6 designation of the R/3 system, will be ready by Jan. 1, Plattner said. 'We can convert systems to relatively easily' in contrast with the early 1990s conversion from R/2 to R/3, he said. 'It will be a soft conversion from what is in place today.'

According to company officials, separate organizations that regularly interact'typically buyers and vendors'can conduct automated business transactions totally within the environment.

'The future of enterprise computing comes at Internet speed,' Plattner said.

In outlining beefed-up Internet capabilities, Plattner took a swipe at Scott McNealy, chairman of Sun Microsystems Inc., who, Plattner said, had predicted ERP's demise. Plattner acknowledged, 'We had become too conservative' after the success of R/3. He said represents a new philosophy.

Plattner described a scenario in which a buyer electronically issues a requisition, browses vendor electronic catalogs for best pricing, issues a purchase order, and receives and pays for the items, all without paper.

He said buying organizations can best maintain pricing and supply information by automatically browsing vendor databases over the Internet, rather than trying to maintain current information in-house.

After product and price checking, 'procurement processes follow automatically. It sounds simple, but this is something completely new,' Plattner said.

Although can be extended to trading partners and other entities, Plattner said, it retains R/3's three-tier, client-server architecture.

'R/3 translated to the Net because we never believed applications and data should reside on the PC,' he said.

Clients for can be simple Hypertext Markup Language remote-access terminals that retain no data footprint after a session ends.

In a panel discussion during Sapphire, some government systems officials debated how far online collaboration with vendors could go, given agencies' requirements to buy competitively.

Legal and regulatory competition requirements 'will prevent electronic commerce from being totally deployed in the public sector,' said Steve Ferguson, chief information officer of Sacramento County, Calif.

'There will be intense pressure on legislators from small, minority-owned businesses' that may lack the technology or know-how to do business online, the CIO said.

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He said he envisioned governments simply giving such vendors a PC and the software necessary to do e-commerce.

Thomas McGurk, secretary of administrative services for Florida, said, 'There is growing realization that you'd better get connected to do business.'

SAP's U.S. public sector headquarters is in Washington.

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