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SAP Does Road Work at CeBIT

Walldorf, Germany-based enterprise software vendor SAP  stuck close to its supply-chain roots today and announced a series of products to help companies track and authenticate their products.

The company introduced a product tracking and authentication (PTA) application and object event repository (OER) that companies can use to aggregate data from RFID or other electronic tagging and combine that with data from enterprise resource planning (ERP)  and other business applications.

The combination of these technologies will enable companies to track and authenticate the serialized products that they manufacture and distribute, both within their own enterprise and when products are in the custody of their trading partners.

Krish Mantripragada, global head of RFID and Auto-ID solutions at SAP, said that RFID use has been largely confined to individual warehouses or specific information silos. Companies can implement an auto-ID infrastructure to keep track of events and track the flow of individual items.

"It enables enterprises to collaborate with enterprises," he told internetnews.com.

Mantripragada said that this application helps customers manage product data at a more granular level, rather than the aggregate level they have been dealing with. "The idea isn't to replicate the data but to tie it all together."

He noted that this functionality can also be used in conjunction with other platforms, such as product lifecycle management (PLM). In the context of a product recall, for instance, customers will be able to take a much more targeted approach than if they had to manage the recall at the batch level, as is currently the case.

PTA and OER will be available in Q2 2007.

SAP also introduced the Automated Export System (AES), a standalone application to help European export companies comply with new EU regulations requiring the use of electronic customs filing by July 2009.

The application will extract data from ERP and other systems, populate the necessary fields and generate an electronic submission.

Amit Chatterjee, senior vice president of SAP's governance, risk and compliance (GRC) group, said that the application will save customers money by reducing errors in paper-based export filings that often result in heavy fines.

The application is available now and is being sold mainly in Europe, where there is a deadline for compliance. But it is also available to U.S. companies. There is no current equivalent requirement for U.S. exporters, but Chatterjee told internetnews.com that "we're assuming this will hit in the U.S., as well, soon."

SAP faces competition in the GRC space from Oracle , which announced its own suite of GRC applications earlier this month.

SAP also used the CeBIT conference, being held in Hanover, Germany, to clarify the roadmap for its new mid-market product, which it announced during an analyst call in January.

At the time, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann described a new product, code-named A1S, that would feature a new code base suitable for an on-demand delivery model and a more flexible pricing structure to appeal to mid-market companies. He said the product would launch at the end of the first quarter of 2007.

Today, Kagermann explained that A1S will have a phased launch, beginning with today's announcement that the product is in trials with a group of selected customers. He said that since A1S involves a new business model as well as a new code base, it will not have a traditional launch, but will be launched over a series of events that include a wider circle of beta customers.

"It's not helpful for me to just show a product, I also have to understand and see if the entire process works and is appreciated," said a spokesman paraphrasing Kagermann's remarks, made in German, for internetnews.com.

According to the spokesman, Kagermann promised to give the market more details about the product over the next few months and said the company is still on track to bring A1S to market in the fourth quarter of 2007 or the first quarter of 2008.

In January, Kagermann said that A1S would be available as a hosted service in 2007 and have an on-premise module available in 2008.