Microsoft, SAP Extend Dance

Microsoft  and SAP  are so
pleased with the success of their original “Duet” platform that they’re already planning an encore.

Duet allows information workers to interact with certain SAP
line-of-business applications and data stores through a Microsoft Office
front end. The initial version was introduced almost exactly a year ago, during which time it earned 250 customer wins and more than 400,000 licenses.

The platform is designed around scenarios, or use-case templates, which end
users can access through an Office interface. Current scenarios
include vacation scheduling and recruiting through Outlook. A supply chain
scenario is available through an Excel interface.

New features will include scenario support for sales and supply-chain
management. For instance, customers will be able to manage sales leads and
opportunities within SAP’s customer relationship management application
through an Office application.

SAP and Microsoft are also planning to roll out
modules for purchasing, legal contract management and governance, and risk- and
compliance management scenarios.

The companies will also expand Duet to leverage SharePoint Server, enabling
the support of unstructured processes, information and team collaboration.

The roadmap promises customers “new collaboration features and simpler,
more flexible ways for information workers to leverage their organization’s
business processes and information,” said Leo Apotheker, deputy CEO of SAP,
in a statement.


Because SAP applications require training before they can be used, the
number of seats sold at each customer implementation is limited to only
those employees who really need those specific tools. By turning familiar
Office applications like Outlook and Excel into a front end, Duet allows SAP
to sell more seats of its applications within its installed base.

For Microsoft, the primary virtue of Duet is that it allows the Redmond,
Wash.-based software vendor to extend Office into the realm of business
applications.


Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio noted that Duet is also helping Microsoft
expose SharePoint to a business audience that hasn’t been familiar with it
as of yet.

“If you can get the functionality of the SAP business processes and push
that downstream and allow the end user to access it through a SharePoint
portal, that can be very, very powerful,” she told internetnews.com.

The companies plan to make Duet 2.0 available at the end of 2008, and to
release Duet 3.0 soon after the next generation of SAP Business Suite
applications and the next version of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server are
released.

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