It is exciting we are finally starting to get some information on the upcoming Duet Enterprise product, bringing SAP to SharePoint and Office. In a recent briefing by the product team, a lot of the rumours we have all been hearing from various sources were finally confirmed. The potential of the product is starting to take shape and so far it is all looking pretty good. The major hurdles that have caused the limited success of the previous versions seem to have been addressed.
Duet Enterprise is not only a complete revamp of the technical architecture but more importantly, what is being delivered is very different of nature. The focus is no longer on delivering the pre-canned scenarios we know from Duet 1.0 and 1.5 but rather on delivering a platform of core capabilities that will reduce time-to-value when building our own SAP/SharePoint solutions. Actual vertical business scenarios will follow down the track and to a large extend be developed by partners that have the necessary functional expertise in various industries.
The SharePoint platform delivers capabilities providing a foundation for building business collaboration solutions. These capabilities include content management, search, workflow, business intelligence and more. Following the same concept, Duet Enterprise will deliver core capabilities for bringing SAP data into the everyday productivity and collaboration platform comprising SharePoint and Office. Duet Enterprise will provide the sets of core capabilities described below.
NOTE! This information is based on pre-release briefings by SAP and Microsoft. The exact nature of the core capabilities of the product may change prior to its release.
With Enterprise Collaboration we can easily create collaboration sites around business entities in SAP. These sites can provide a 360 degree view of a customer, a vendor or any other business data from SAP. The site may display content mashed up from various sources, not just from SAP. To visualise this idea, have a look at my slide deck on enterprise mashups (12-15) from a presentation last year.
The much improved capabilities of the Business Connectivity Services (BCS) in SharePoint 2010, will further promote SharePoint’s potential as a platform for enterprise mashups. And with Duet Enterprise we get the interoperability-in-a-box required to cost-effectively include SAP data in those mashups.
The main promise of Duet is to break down the Chinese Wall and link the worlds of SAP and Microsoft. With Contextual Workflow we will be able to take a more holistic view of business processes. The reality is that the highly structured transaction-oriented business processes in SAP often have certain sections where information workers are required to perform work in the more collaboration-oriented tools provided by Microsoft.
Contextual Workflow allows us to surface SAP workflow tasks in SharePoint and Outlook. Information workers can manage and monitor their SAP workflow tasks as part of their SharePoint and Office tasks. Utilising SharePoint workflow, ad hoc collaboration can be initiated around an SAP workflow task without losing the link to the back-end system. In other words, an SAP workflow can be extended within SharePoint to cover the unstructured part of a process.
Duet Enterprise Profile
The Duet Enterprise Profile extends the standard SharePoint user profiles (My Sites) with HR data coming from SAP. Things like job title, department and location is imported from the source-of-truth in the SAP system. Many companies are already doing this, but with Duet Enterprise it is an out-of-the-box feature.
The uptake of SharePoint My Sites is still fairly limited but this is a huge investment area in the upcoming SharePoint 2010 release. We will see extensive social networking capabilities built around the user profiles and the rich Silverlight-based controls for browsing the organisation hierarchy will become even more attractive with HR data sourced from SAP.
Federated Search gives information workers one single interface for searching for both collaborative content in SharePoint and business data in SAP. SAP search results will be coming from a connection to SAP Enterprise Search and the underlying TREX engine. To get an idea of what that might look like, check out slides 10 and 11 in this deck.
Duet Enterprise Reporting
Conceptually this is very similar to the reporting features of the earlier versions of Duet. Regular reports from SAP ERP or BW can be exposed with Duet Enterprise Reporting. SharePoint will include a catalogue of SAP reports and information workers can also run ad hoc reports.
Users can subscribe to reports which are delivered in either SharePoint or Outlook and these reports can be taken offline in a managed way using SharePoint Workspace. Reports will typically be delivered in either an Excel or PDF format.