ERP-Link business optimization platform drives SAP-Microsoft interoperability
Two years ago, SAP and Microsoft saw an opportunity to ease interoperability between SAP’s back-office applications and Microsoft Office, the most widely deployed set of productivity applications sitting on the desktop. The result was Duet—to date, a limited set of prime business process workflows that allow workers to interact with a number of SAP applications via Microsoft Office, where the latter can draw on data in the former, with updates flowing automatically back into SAP.
This is much the same vision behind ERP-Link ‘s iNET Business Optimization Platform (BOP)—released in early May—only iNET BOP is said to be unconstrained by predefined scenarios, thereby supporting any and all business process workflows. The component-based modeling and design tool kit that is a part of the solution allows access to all SAP objects and supporting services, as well as the tools to define, model, create, test, and deploy composite applications without boundaries.
“We began bringing out components two years ago, and iNET BOP marks the release of the complete platform,” says Eric Anderson, president and CEO of ERP-Link. “It leverages the Microsoft platform as a framework and provides extended functionality on the SAP side. The strategy was to offer a framework by which to assemble composite applications in any fashion you want, and have the integration point between the two systems at any point you want.”
iNET is appealing to companies with a Microsoft .NET-centric enterprise infrastructure that want comprehensive interoperability between Microsoft and SAP applications. It provides enterprisewide ability to access, share, and leverage business information with a lower cost of ownership, the company asserts.
“Workers need data and information that comes from a single system of record,” says Bharat Nair, research director for global manufacturing markets at Boston-based Aberdeen Group . “But they’ve found it difficult to navigate and even get access to [that information]. This is where ERP-Link comes in, with a nifty connectivity tool that exposes data out of SAP into Web services format to quickly put into applications like Excel and Access.”
It’s exactly the kind of tool that Anita Gardner, director of financial consolidations for Harmon International , was looking for. Harmon makes stereo speakers and other audio electronics for automobiles, home, theatres, and auditoriums. “All three major divisions have SAP,” she says, adding that it’s her job to see to the consolidation, budgeting, and reporting of financial data. The manual process of rekeying data led Harmon to investigate alternatives, resulting in selection of the ERP-Link platform. A July 1 go-live was anticipated.
“Everything we are doing in consolidating and budgeting is Excel-based,” explains Gardner. “What this means is we can consolidate results in real time from all of our companies, rather than having them send files to us. With ERP-Link, we have a large amount of data coming over in a short amount of time. And the integrity of the data is more secure than rekeying it. We’re very excited about it.”