One thing we took away from Sapphire is that networked-based business models are going to factor prominently into the value SAP sees itself generating for customers beyond providing just business applications. These networks may take the form of information-rich environments that cross companies and tiers of supply chains to drive predictive risk analytics (e.g., Supplier InfoNet). Or they may enable new levels of operational efficiency by allowing suppliers to connect a single time to a network to maintain basic vendor information without having to register with (and continuously update) multiple supplier portals and supplier management platforms. Regardless, SAP's network vision is real, even if they haven't yet finalized all of the details of their strategy. And it's clear that Hubwoo, at least for the foreseeable future, is going to have some part in it.
At Sapphire, Hubwoo shared their vision for delivering new value through network-based approaches. We'll be sharing this vision -- some of which is already being deployed today, or will soon be deployed -- in a series of posts in the coming weeks. But we first wanted to understand ourselves and clarify for our readers the role Hubwoo plays relative to Crossgate (now part of SAP) for basic supplier connectivity and enablement and the current SAP supplier network offering. According to Hubwoo, the joint SAP supplier network solution today is using SAP technology for integration and Hubwoo technology to support the actual network activities once system-to-system connectivity is established (either into Hubwoo directly or into a buyer's system).
Hubwoo suggested that the Crossgate components, now renamed SAP Information Interchange (II), is sold as a managed service and is productized integration that will work for the life of a subscription agreement at a fixed price. In other words, it is the plumbing to connect supplier systems to SAP customer systems, very much in the spirit of a new generation of EDI approaches. Think pipes. Data pipes. Hubwoo's role in this is not the system-to-system connectivity (machine to machine or machine to network) but rather serving, as their namesake suggests, as a hub that provides the business logic, supplier network, transaction flow, reporting and supplier portal capability. Hubwoo contracts with suppliers, but it also uses SAP's II technology to do the integrations itself. Put another way, any B2B (or business-to-hub integration) is done through the SAP II connectors and service while Hubwoo provides the services we've traditionally come to expect from supplier networks on top of it.
Hubwoo: Putting a New Wrapper and Label on SAP
Looking forward, both Hubwoo and SAP see a much bigger role for supplier networks. This is the primary reason Hubwoo just raised an additional 5MM euro to fund R&D and product investments to build out and deploy a broader network vision. Stay tuned as we investigate what Hubwoo and SAP are up to in bringing these new solutions to market and what they plan to do to continue to position their current product footprint and portfolio.