Newly Acquired SAP Solutions
Now that’s we’ve discussed SAP’s road to the cloud, we will introduce some of SAP SE’s recent acquisitions, in the order in which they were acquired. With a few exceptions, these acquired companies provide SaaS solutions that are “cloud only.”
The acquired companies discussed here all utilize technologies that have nothing in common with classic SAP architecture in regard to platforms, code, and user interfaces. This can be challenging for IT departments that must integrate these solutions into their existing software environment. It can also be challenging for end users, who have to adapt not only to a new look and feel but also to different naming conventions and business process concepts. Besides the fact that all of these solutions are owned and offered by SAP, the only other thing they have in common is HANA. They either already use the HANA platform or will be moved to HANA in the near future.
For most companies, the workforce represents up to 60% of operating expenses, which makes it their single largest investment. SAP’s 2011 acquisition of SuccessFactors added talent management expertise and human resource management (HCM) to SAP’s cloud assets.
SuccessFactors’ HCM solutions are based on management by objectives (MBO) principles and promise that you don’t need to know HR jargon to use the system. However, the user interface is quite different from SAP’s standard UIs (see Figure 8.4 and Figure 8.5).
FIGURE 8.4 Example of the SuccessFactors Employee Central built-in organization chart (courtesy of SAP).
FIGURE 8.5 An example of SuccessFactors’ compensation management (courtesy of SAP).
The SuccessFactors HCM Suite includes
- Employee Central: A self-service core HR and talent management solution
- Recruiting: Helps to attract, engage, and select candidates and measure the results
- Onboarding: Guides hiring managers and improves employees’ job satisfaction, time to productivity, and first-year retention
- Performance & Goals: Communicates strategy and creates meaningful individual goals, streamlines the performance appraisal process, and enables meaningful feedback
- Compensation: Supports a company to pay people based on achievement and objective ratings
- Succession & Development: Enables planning for staffing changes
- Learning: A complete learning management solution (LMS) that enables instructor-led and formal and social online training; includes a Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) solution
- Workforce Planning: Provides workforce information and benchmarks to forecast the impact of business decisions.
- Workforce Analytics & Reporting: Delivers quantitative insights
- SAP added “Jam” (their private social network tool which combines collaboration and content creation) to the SuccessFactors portfolio.
In December 2013, SuccessFactors’ Talent Management solution already had more than 4,000 customers with 25 million users, and the Learning Management System had more than 600 customers with 11.5 million users. Employee Central had 15 million users spanning 3,500 companies.
Integration with Payroll
Even if SuccessFactors’ Compensation Management (see Figure 8.5) provided all the functionality needed to manage your employees’ salaries, the actual payments would still need to be processed by SAP HCM’s payroll (part of the core ERP system) or another third-party bookkeeping system.
Synchronizing the data between two systems has always been a complex activity. This should be considered when evaluating the compensation management of Successfactors compared to using the already built-in HCM integration of SAP ERP (more on this in Hour 19).
From the first versions of R/3 and even R/2, the procurement process was an integral part of SAP’s ERP solution, covering the complete process from placing an order to paying the invoice. To serve the specific demand of procurement departments, SAP soon split out a dedicated solution for enabling point-to-point purchasing connections between buyers and sellers.
See Hour 5, “Overview of SAP Applications and Components,” especially Figure 5.1, to better understand how the name of the solution has changed over time from Business-to-Business procurement to SAP Enterprise Buyer Professional (EBP) and then Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)—enhanced by a catalog server, a bidding engine for online auctions, and more. However, the connection to each business partner had to be negotiated and set up separately.
In contrast to SAP’s approach, focused on the demand of the buyer’s departments for individual customers, Ariba succeeded in establishing a centralized trading platform for suppliers.
Founded in 1996 as one of the first startups utilizing the Internet for procurement processes, and acquired by SAP in 2012, Ariba provides a fully cloud-based SaaS solution for external order and payment processing as well as for sourcing and spend analysis. However, the biggest benefit that the more than 730,000 Ariba customers can capitalize on is a business network with more than 750,000 suppliers; Ariba claims that every two minutes, a company adds itself to this network.
And even in the event that a product can’t be found within the catalogs of the partners in this huge network, Ariba can be configured to search other sites, such as eBay, using criteria to only consider vendors where the product can be bought immediately and with a high customer feedback rating.
Ariba solutions are available by subscription and on-demand, so there’s no software to install or maintain. All an end user needs is a web browser. Whether you want to buy (see Figure 8.6) or sell (see Figure 8.7), there is an easy step-by-step process available via Ariba Discovery.7 Just click on Register Now to obtain an account and request a demo. It’s free and takes only a few minutes.
FIGURE 8.6 The Ariba Discovery portal for buyers (courtesy of Ariba).
FIGURE 8.7 Ariba Discovery portal for vendors (courtesy of Ariba).
For standard sellers, there is a fee to respond to postings based on the posting deal size: free up to US$1,000; $19 up to $50,000; $49 up to $100,000; $119 up to $1,000,000; and $149 over $1,000,000. Upgrading to the Advantage or Advantage Plus package brings free responses and other marketing opportunities.
Because all purchase orders have to be processed in the bookkeeping and incoming goods department, Ariba has to be integrated into the SAP ERP system to make sure that everything procured is accounted correctly. (See Hour 19.)
Another kind of goods or resources a company needs to procure is external staffing power; these resources range from individual freelancers or contingent workers to leased workforces capable of supporting a complete plant. The concept of engaging managed service providers (MSPs) to oversee the onsite contingent workforce emerged in the late 1980s and gained steam around the mid-1990s. During that same time, automated vendor management systems (VMS) propelled and enabled the MSP model.
Fieldglass, founded in 1999 and acquired by SAP in 2014, provides a cloud-based VMS used to manage a non-employee workforce of contingent workers (that is, independent contractors). The various business processes that such management comprises include procurement, creation of statements of work, project management, and payment management.
Figure 8.8 illustrates a variety of templates for job postings a project manager can use to select the proper skill set for a development task.
FIGURE 8.8 Fieldglass job posting template (courtesy of Cisco).
Figure 8.9 shows the Fieldglass management dashboard, where all activities from the hiring process to times sheets and budgetary reports down to employee reviews are available as structured workflows.
FIGURE 8.9 Fieldglass management dashboard (courtesy of Cisco).
As of early 2014, Fieldglass’ client base included approximately 250 customers, many of them quite large or complex. SAP expects this business to grow as companies continue to shed traditional workforces and employ new staffing and resourcing models.
Travel and entertainment spend is the second-largest controllable cost for some companies—just behind payroll. Many highly paid experts have to spend a considerable amount of time organizing their travel and collecting all their travel receipts for reimbursement.
Concur’s basic idea is to integrate corporate travel booking with expense tracking, so employees don’t have to key in the same data multiple times in multiple systems. Electronic receipts from airlines, rental car companies, hotels, and restaurants are captured automatically and turned into expense line items, eliminating the hassle of filling out travel reports and improving accuracy significantly. If national tax laws permit, travelers just have to take photos of train tickets or taxi or restaurant bills with their smartphones and attach the images to expenses; in addition to the other benefits, this process saves greenhouse gases by preventing piles of paper from being processed abroad.
Figure 8.10 illustrates the Concur expense reporting process. The Travel & Expense app capture transactions directly from airlines, hotels, restaurants, and car companies and transforms them into expense line entries (left). Travelers can also add photos of receipts (middle) to the expense report. The last step is to forward the finished report to a manager for approval (right).
FIGURE 8.10 Generating a travel report with Concur Travel & Expense (courtesy of Concur).
Concur Travel & Expense supports multiple languages and currencies. Currency exchange rate and complex car-mileage allowances are automatically calculated, as are the tax rates of many countries. Interfaces for SAP business solution and other ERP systems are available.
Concur Travel & Expense is offered in multiple editions (Small Business, Standard, Concurforce, Professional, and Premium) and processes $50 billion in expense transactions per year.
In addition, Concur offers TripIt, a mobile travel organizer for individuals that is currently used by more than 5 million individuals (see Figure 8.11). Users simply forward all hotel, flight, car rental, and restaurant confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, and TripIt transforms them into a detailed itinerary with dates, times, and confirmation numbers. In addition, directions, maps, weather, and other such information may be consolidated and centrally displayed for every trip.
FIGURE 8.11 TripIT’s user interface (courtesy of Concur).
Like Ariba, Concur offers a test drive for 30 days free of charge8 to help potential users become familiar with the look and feel of the solution.
SAP completed the acquisition of Concur in December 2014. While SAP will continue to fully support its customers currently using SAP Cloud for Travel and Expense through their current contract term, Concur’s solution will be the offering of choice for customers moving forward.
In an interesting way, hybris represents an exception to the general trend of SAP acquiring established cloud solutions, because hybris is classic on-premise software that may be installed as an IaaS cloud offering. Founded in 1997 in Switzerland and acquired by SAP in 2014, hybris provides a suite of multichannel and product content management (PCM) software to complement SAP’s classical CRM solutions.
Multichannel retailing considers the variety of channels consumers can choose today for shopping. Digitally savvy consumers are entering stores already well informed about a product’s features and prices, and they expect store employees to know more than they do. Purchases may be made in the store but are researched through other channels of communication, including online catalogs, television, mobile apps, and online stores like Amazon and eBay. To win connected consumers, all shopping channels from brick-and-mortar shops to telesales need to use the same information regarding products, prices, promotions, etc.
Many retailers also have to deal with multiple catalogs for different target audiences and languages. hybris supports multilevel hierarchies of catalogs, such that child catalogs can inherit a parent catalog’s settings. On the other side, multichannel retailing solutions enable consumer-specific offerings, analyzing purchase patterns, social network affinities, website visits, loyalty programs, and so on—all of which increase the complexity of such solutions significantly.
The hybris Commerce Suite
The hybris Commerce Suite offers a single system for managing product content, commerce operations, and channels from mobile and online to in-store. Figure 8.12 gives you a glimpse of the catalog management capabilities of hybris.
hybris on the Cloud
Currently, hybris can use the cloud in a simple IaaS approach. According to a blog, SAP offers to run hybris on HANA for free, with the HANA Cloud Platform Developer Trial10 at the time of writing. However, you should not expect good performance as the HANA cloud database is reachable via the relatively slow open-db-tunnel command, and the HANA instance is shared.