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SAP Boosts SaaS Offerings With Google

SAP (NYSE: SAP) today announced new mashups that connect with nine Web sites, including Google, to offer its SAP Business ByDesign customers increased functionality with a single click.

"Including preconfigured third-party Web services is a valuable enhancement to SAP Business ByDesign, as it improves user productivity and user experience," Hans-Peter Klaey, SAP president of SME markets, said in a statement.

The nine Web services have varying global reach, but where offered, are available immediately to Business ByDesign users in the U.S., UK, China, France, Germany, and India, the company said.

Google services offered are Google News, Google Maps, Google Finance, Google Search, and Google Product Search.

Other mapping services are also available -- MapQuest offers worldwide coverage and Falk offers route planning services in Germany. Navteq/Map 24 powers location-based and routing services.

For information about businesses, SAP tapped Google, Business Wire, Hoover's and Morningstar. It also works with GoYellow.de to provide phone listings in Germany.

Consumerization is led by Google, eBay, and Amazon

So how does Business ByDesign use Google? "SAP has a full-blown search engine called TREX," Rainer Zinow, SAP senior vice president for Business ByDesign, told InternetNews.com. "If I search for a customer name, perhaps 'Silver Star,' the system first finds the account Silver Star. It will give me a complete list of everything happening in the ERP system even where the 'Silver Star' text string does not occur."

"It also triggers a Google search," Zinow added. "I see the orders and the account and I see 43 Google hits." Google information would include the URL for the company Web site as well as any current news on the company and even a map showing its location.

The effort comes as the latest example of enterprise vendors embracing some new thinking about their software -- that it must be simple for a variety of users. Companies now expect to be able to use software without training their employees. "Especially in the mid-market, companies cannot send people on a two-week training course to use software," Zinow said.

SAP calls this new thinknig "new interaction paradigms" and Citrix is talking about "consumerization" -- the point is that expectations have changed.

That's one reason that Zinow said SAP is taking a page from online firms like eBay and Amazon, who have developed easy-to-use Web applications that today can inform how enterprise apps ought to work.

"Others have taken the lead in developing the market and we are leveraging what they prepared," he said.

In SAP's case, Business ByDesign customers can integrate additional services, such as WebEx, though an interface that's designed to be easy to use, and is inspired by such services as Yahoo Pipes. The system enables regular business users to use a drag-and-drop interface to build the new service.

That makes it simpler for customers to add new services without paying integration fees for them -- something they've been calling for, according to Zinow. "We are providing our customers with a technique to integrate new services into Business ByDesign on the front end, not the back end," he said.

That's increasingly becoming a hurdle to adoption, some industry observers have said. Earlier this month, Gartner reported that SaaS customers were not fully satisfied because it cost more than many realized, and required more integration work than they expected.

SAP is working on this, according to Zinow.

Zinow added that SAP is not just borrowing from other companies' thinking -- its work in developing the ERP market has helped all businesses, he said.

"They benefit from work we have done in standardizing business processes," he said.