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SAP goes modular with Business Suite 7 launch

Smaller bites easier to swallow

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SAP launched Business Suite 7 on Wednesday, saying that it's chopping the software into smaller bites for the benefit of a toothless economy.

The German software maker will punt its latest flagship business management software as individual pick-and-choose bundles, such as inventory functions or payroll. SAP pitches the modular approach as helping customers save money in a deepening recession.

It's also clearly a response to software-as-a-service (SaS) vendors that have been steadily wooing SAP's customers away from massive in-house implementations.

SAP may be comfortable selling enormous packages with big licensing and maintenance fees, but smaller implementations done in foreseeable time frames certainly seem the projects du'jour.

Technically, SAP's business management software are already available in modules — a sales method we dare say was modular. But BS7 is apparently more modular...er. SAP says customers will now have opportunities to buy modules instead of a hard sell for full applications and suites.

SAP envisions selling more industry-specific bundles such as "integrated product development" for discrete manufacturing industries or "collaborative demand and supply planning" for consumer product companies.

Upgrades are available as "enhancement packages" that add additional functionality to BS7 without going through the full upgrade. It plans to release the packs on a yearly basis.

Although the release seems to be more about how the company will sell BS7 rather than significant updates — there are a few apparent tweaks such as a revised interface.

The focus for BS7 is customer value. That makes sense, considering the crap economy. But it could be a hard sell for customers who are already running SAP software and looking to save money. A big upgrade probably isn't what they have in mind. ®

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