SOA means new role for CIOs – SAP

16 May 2007

VIENNA: The CIO faces “profound change” and must become more involved in real business decisions and come up with a new framework for managing IT investments, according to SAP deputy CEO Leo Apotheker (pictured).

Speaking at Sapphire ’07, SAP’s customer event in Vienna, he said the challenge was to extract the business value out of technology by building business processes on a SOA (service-oriented architecture) platform.

“This is something we first talked about a few years ago and it’s not open for debate anymore,” he said, giving SAP bragging rights over the hot IT topic of the day.

Apotheker described the architecture that will become the CIO’s domain. “It is a full-blown ecosystem built around a business process platform that intergrates not only with new applications but also with legacy applications, helping to recover business value from past investment before consolidation.”

Taking a pot shot at competitors, he claimed that SAP was the vendor capable of delivering the only type of SOA environment that would work. “There are two ways of delivering SOA: the DIY approach of some of our competitors or with SAP as a tightly integrated, robust platform,” he said.

Apotheker talked about SAP’s suite of business software that allowed “mass customisation on an industrial scale”. With SAP as the business process platform, the CIO will be able to lead the company through an evolution in the way it utilises IT, according to Apotheker, from adoption through to adaptation and ultimately to innovation.

“They will have to become master of an accelerated and efficient business innovation lifecycle,” he said. “This will become the core activity of any CIO.”

Earlier at the event he identified three markets that SAP would be concentrating on as financial services, retail and the public sector.

A new partnership with SunGard, a leading software and services supplier to financial institutions, was announced at the event, highlighting SAP’s commitment to the sector. The two companies will collaborate to deliver services over an SOA platform.

In another announcement, SAP updated delegates on its work with the Industry Value Network, a collaborative group it set up with financial institutions and software providers.

The objective is to identify and define key bank services and come up with the building blocks to transition them to an SOA environment. The network now has 130 participants.

SAP also used the event to highlight its growing commitment to the small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, which was its “best-kept secret”, accounting for 65pc of its customer base.

By Ian Campbell