SAP does not get credit for being a good marketing company but over the last decade they have deftly changed their perception a few times. Back in the mid 90s as complaints of long and costly implementations started to surface they rolled out a methodology called ASAP (Accelerated SAP). As ebusiness mania started to paint them as dinosaurs, they changed branding to mySAP.com.
A recent interview with Shai Agassi shows its next evolution as open source, services oriented architectures and utility computing gain in popularity.
“Not open source, but open. Open through a community process, through an inclusive model, not an exclusive model””
“Imagine the collection of SAP Objects —with 5,000 or 10,000 interfaces—agreed upon, standardized, ubiquitous in 30,000 to 40,000 companies. You open up a whole industry for players to come in and significantly simplify the upstreaming.”
“The customers want to consolidate the bottom. They don't want a lot of change. They don't want a lot of movement in the bottom”
“"If we don't do it yet, go figure it out. There are options, it's okay. As long as that option doesn't break the core."
“I believe that '07 and '08 will be extremely exciting years. They'll be almost like '97 and '98 were. Lots of new companies, lots of new ideas, lots of business innovation”
So, a kinder, gentler SAP, so long as SAP gets the core. A SAP technology keirutsu with hundreds of Tier 2 and 3 suppliers tied to your standards.
Lock-in while being called open. Core functionality with big chunks missing for some verticals. Core functionality nonetheless at premium pricing. Who said they were not a good marketing company?
At least, unlike Hasso a few years ago and Larry now, it's not "join us or we will crush you" message to the rest of the industry. Shai still understands the power of an entrepreneurial ecosystem around him.