PRODUCT PROFILE

SAP Enterprise Portal Technology

Although diversity can certainly make life more interesting, chances are that companies with too many different IT systems are longing for more uniformity. Enter SAP Enterprise Portal, bringing together different applications, information and services through a single access point to overcome an all-too-familiar challenge.

For example, a large corporation might want to unify data from a legacy human resources system, differing regional salary standards from the Web, and employee evaluations residing in a document management system.

Not so many years ago, the strategy was to “rip and replace” older technology, said Greg Crider, director of product marketing for SAP’s Enterprise Portal. But now companies want “to use enterprise portals to address new users and business problems while leveraging current infrastructure,” Crider told CRM Buyer Magazine.

SAP Enterprise Portal helps produce a heterogeneous IT environment by integrating SAP and non-SAP applications, data warehouses, desktop documents, and Web content and services, the company says. The technology is designed to improve collaboration, speed informed decision making and boost employee productivity.

Unique Unification Strategy

“Although others have an integrated strategy to do similar things, SAP is unique in having unification as part of its portal,” Jim Murphy, senior analyst at AMR Research, told CRM Buyer.

SAP’s unification technology is the enabler for its “Drag&Relate” capabilities, which enable users to “pull information from one portlet on top of another and get them to relate,” Murphy said, and for its composite applications, which mix and match information from various sources.

By providing a “Yahoo-like,” transparent interface, the technology is adaptable for different types of users, Crider noted. Indeed, many companies have adopted enterprise portal technology, which has been one of the few areas to sustain growth in the last few years, he pointed out.

Building Service, Cutting Costs

Resolving business issues more quickly and efficiently helps users reduce the total cost of ownership and maximize returns on investment. The technology is designed to help small and mid-size companies build their service capabilities cost effectively as they grow.

SAP Enterprise Portal improves knowledge management through content management, classification and search capabilities that allow users to access meaningful documents and view information in context.

Tools that enable collaboration across business boundaries help lower costs and foster supplier, partner and customer relationships. The portal, which can be personalized, comes with business packages with predefined, role-specific content to shorten implementation time.

Portal to Growth

SAP is in a strong position to sell to its own very large customer base, Murphy said, adding that a key selling point for the company’s enterprise portal technology is its integration with its CRM offerings.

Due to market consolidation, only a few pure-play portal vendors, such as Epicentric and Plumtree, are left to compete against the likes of BEA, IBM and SAP. “Now there are 15 or 20 portal framework vendors, down from up to 100,” Murphy said. “In the next few years, I wouldn’t expect there to be more than four or five left.”

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