ORLANDO, Florida--Dr. Hasso Plattner, cofounder of business application software company SAP, today laid out a plan to support component software in the company's R/3 application package, and addressed criticisms that R/3 is too complex for the small-to-medium sized businesses that the company has targeted as a future growth market.
Plattner, a spokesman of SAP AG's executive board, outlined a number of new technology components that will be added to R/3 version 4.0 at the SAP user meeting, Sapphire '97. The upgrade is due in an early release version by year-end 1997 and slated to be generally available by the second quarter of 1998.
The components include features such as a client-component enabling package called The Business Client, which allows users to execute ActiveX Controls and JavaBeans applets. With this component, SAP is trying to personalize its product's end-user interface, Plattner said.
Plattner said that to appeal to both high-end and low-end customers, R/3 "has to be like a body with many different heads." He made the analogy while defending his company's success in the low-end market against those who he said have questioned the company's ability to do so.
"If the press and analysts still say that we are too complex for small businesses to implement, the facts say differently," he said.
Plattner said close to half of the SAP's profits last year came from revenue made in implementing R/3 systems in the low-end market. He said R/3 has been implemented in companies as small as one-to-four users to large corporations with as many as 2,800 users.
The deal is the second aimed at small businesses. The company has entered into a similar deal with IBM to offer Ready-to-Run R/3 on IBM's AS/400 servers, and to link users of Lotus Notes and SmartSuite applications to R/3 data.
During his speech, Plattner praised his company's recent partnerships with IBM, Compaq, and Intel as examples of how SAP is meeting the various needs of the low-end market.
"R/3 is fully compatible with all of these major computer company's core products," he said. "We support all of our partners. You [SAP customers] have to select which one you want to use."
Plattner also pointed to the recent announcement of the joint e-commerce company with Intel called Pandesic as an example of SAP efforts to try to address the needs of the small-business market.
The two companies will form the e-commerce company, which will deliver a service, not a product, with start-up fees "in the low double-digit thousands" and a percentage of revenue as a transaction fee.
"Those who watch us, watch us in the low-end market. Those who can add one and one and come up with two can see what Pandesic will mean for the low-end users," Plattner said.
Pandesic's importance to the two companies was signified by Plattner's introduction by none other than Andy Grove, CEO of Intel.
Sapphire '97 continues throughout the week.