Without question, one of the most hyped integration components within enterprise technology is set to make a splash this year. And that's Duet -- an integration platform and joint MSFT/SAP solution which will, in theory, allow SAP users to work within Microsoft applications to manage workflow, permissions, and other capabilities outside of the SAP application or browser interface. The planning on the SAP side is smart and the SRM direction looks slick. But the execution -- especially given their partner's inability to release enterprise products that work as expected in their first year of existence -- is something else entirely. While I look forward to digging into the SRM components of Duet at Sapphire later this spring, I am skeptical about MSFT's side of the bargain and other related issues until all the kinks of Vista and Office 2007 are worked out.
Of course you can opt to believe the marketing spin on Duet's site: "Duet purchasing management provides users with the ability to use Microsoft Office to approve purchase requests, understand spending patterns, and analyze supplier performance contained in the mySAP Supplier Relationship Management application in a rapid and cost-efficient manner ... Duet enables shopping cart purchases to be routed directly to purchasing approver’s Outlook Inbox in full compliance with purchasing business rules and policies. Duet provides associated purchasing analytics on purchasing history, budgets and spending patterns and available budgets. Approved purchasing requests are automatically updated in the back-end SRM system."
In theory, this sounds great (and I'll bet that the SAP team has held to their side of the bargain on development). But you simply can't trust Microsoft to get anything Enterprise right --- at least not in the first 6-12 months following a new product release. It also begs the question: who will the VP of Procurement and CIO complain to when a purchasing requisitioning crashes the rest of the operating system or slows Outlook to a crawl? One wonders if SAP would be better off hedging their bets by integrating with Google's new application push as well.