SAP will bring a unified interface across its suite of business applications over the next few quarters as part of an ongoing effort to make its software easier to implement.
"The next version of our Business Suite will have one harmonic view," said co-CEO Leo Apotheker, who joined customers and analysts at SAP's New York offices on Friday for a panel discussion on "Why it makes sense to invest in IT in lean economic times."
SAP has released a version of what Apotheker called its "unified interface," similar to the current interface in the company's CRM module, for select customers to test, according to company officials. It will most likely take several quarters to release the interface for general availability, Apotheker acknowledged.
Meanwhile, one customer said she was looking forward to the unified interface as a way of increasing user efficiency. "We have all sorts of people using SAP - administrators, business people, nurses," said Naomi Wyatt, secretary of administration for Pennsylvania's Office of Administration, which has 95,000 SAP users.
"I would love a single interface across all the applications," Wyatt said. "It would help us get more out of what we already have. People would be less afraid to use different applications - though of course we'd still have to limit access to data they can get on various applications."
The rollout of the unified interface is part of the company's commitment to bring its enhancement pack strategy to its entire business suite. With the rollout of enhancement packs, SAP is moving away from periodic, large upgrades and instead adding new features on an incremental basis.
Earlier this month, SAP released the fourth enhancement pack for its core ERP applications. The next releases of other applications in its suite, including supply chain management, product lifecycle management and supplier relationship management, will offer users the new unified interface and the ability to upgrade via enhancement packs, according to company officials.
"Once we get the next version of the business suite out, no more big bang upgrades," Apotheker said.