As a close follower of the ERP battles for the past decade, I find it fascinating that SAP is taking preemptive strikes against Oracle in the battle for control of enterprise data and intelligence. After all, it's easy to argue that Oracle, given its database roots, should naturally take the more aggressive stance relative to its Waldorf rival by extending the power of data through new levels of analytics and top level reporting. But it would appear that SAP is the one going down this path more aggressively at the moment (perhaps because its development path, however challenging, is at least not "fused" at the moment ;-).
In all seriousness, the latest proof point for SAP's move into the advanced BI and reporting space is its recent acquisition of Pilot Software, which closed in late February. According to Managing Automation, the deal "closed for an undisclosed sum, [adding] to SAP's portfolio a product called PilotWorks, which allows C-level executives and other managers to monitor a business's progress against its strategic goals ... PilotWorks is sold as either an integrated suite of products or as standalone modules. Business functions enabled by the suite include operational reviews, strategy assessment, scorecards, dashboards, and workflow processes for entry and approval and configuration and modeling."
Might PilotWorks form part of the foundation of a new spend visibility and performance management application for SAP SRM? It's unlikely that as a stand-alone tool, PilotWorks will be enough (especially considering how SAP still does no have an answer to the data enrichment and classification challenge central to spend visibility). But certainly moves like this suggest that SAP is serious about owning both the business process as well as the decision support and performance management layer of corporate IT. Whether its procurement, finance, or HR decisions, if SAP can make a case to its customers to layer this type of capability on top of their current ERP investments, they'll succeed at painting the database portion of the application stack into a corner.
Of course that's one vision of what might happen, but given Oracle's aggressiveness in the market, I doubt they'll sit still for long. Who knows ... perhaps Dr. Goodnight might finally decide to retire and spend the rest of his days on his excellent golf course. If that happens, you can bet that Oracle would be a top bidder for SAS (even if Oracle makes some interim acquisitions along the way).
I wrote this before the latest BI news. Stay tuned for coverage of Oracle's Hyperion acquisition shortly!