Waiting for Duet

Earlier in the week at Sapphire, I had the chance to demo SAP's forthcoming Duet capabilities within their contract management module(s). I say modules because SAP is still selling two distinct contract management solutions today -- the highly configurable Frictionless product which is now known as SAP E-Sourcing as well as the native SRM contract management toolset. Initially Duet integration will be available in the SRM contract management product in Q3 as an xApp add-on, but the product roadmap calls for it to be integrated into the other product by the end of the year. While Duet was initially slated for an earlier appearance in contract management this spring, given the functional enhancements and integration points with Office and Outlook that are required to make it work, it is currently available only in a pilot mode. Customers will, however, be able to go live with it with full support by the fall.

Does SAP's Contract Management xAPP Duet integration change the name of the contract game? Yes and no. It is certainly the best contract management Office integration I've seen from a workflow perspective. But already today, Upside, Ariba, Emptoris, and others offer Word integration in their contract management tools for authoring and management. Given this, I'd still put SAP's forthcoming xApp contract management Duet product in the "fast red car category".

It's cool to look at and powerful at the core. But it's not quite ready for prime driving time given that SAP's native SRM contract management capability is rudimentary relative to best of breed competitors and even their own E-Sourcing (Frictionless) contract management product. Ultimately, when the E-Sourcing and SRM code bases converge sometime in 2008 and E-Sourcing is fully integrated with SRM -- and Duet is available on it -- SAP will have a great story to not only tell, but show. I believe this will give SAP a big leg up on the competition. But it's important to base vendor selection decisions on what's available today -- not what is planned for tomorrow. Why? Because "tomorrow" can -- and often does -- get pushed further and further out in the enterprise software world.

Jason Busch

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