Most people are familiar with the critical role customer relationship management (CRM) applications in the cloud have come to play in terms of managing sales organizations. But what most organizations have yet to fully appreciate is how a critical a role those applications could play as a front end to any number of business processes across the enterprise.
Looking to exploit that opportunity SAP has been building a partner ecosystem around a set of open APIs for SAP Sales OnDemand. According to Bill Hou, SAP vice president for Customer OnDemand., the goal is to make the software-as-a-service (SaaS) application easy to integrate within the context of a federated set of business processes.
Most recently, SAP extended the mobile computing capabilities of SAP Sales OnDemand by adding support for features that make it easier for sales people to update the application via mobile computing devices. Ultimately, Hou says that SAP wants to make it easy for organizations to customize the front end of the application, while taking advantage of a rich set of open APIs to integrate SAP Sales OnDemand with any other application.
SAP, concedes Hou, is trying to leverage that openness to unseat Salesforce.com in the CRM space, which Hou says is significantly more costly to customize and integrate within the enterprise.
Obviously, this level of flexibility with an SAP application might take some time to get used to for some organizations. Previously known for having some of the more arcane interfaces in the industry, SAP is making a major effort to leverage APIs to essentially change its image within the enterprise. Of course, the transformational potential of APIs in the enterprise has not been lost of rivals such as Salesforce.com, which is pursuing its own aggressive API strategy.
But the one thing that is for certain is that as cloud computing continues to evolve it will be the organizations that create the richest application ecosystem around their offerings that will ultimately carry the day. Open APIs have simply become the table stakes needed to play the game.