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value- added service. Internally, we have gained tremendous efficiencies in the order management process." Bayer expects a dramatic increase among SAP users to the outsourced ecommerce solutions because " the result is a configurable web platform for ecommerce that leverages best-in- class open- source technology and delivers it as software as a service. SAP users who believe that customer service matters must find solutions which give their customers the tools to do business effortlessly." SAP had a pretty good 2008 and a strong fourth quarter ( increasing net profit to ? 850 million over the previous year's ? 756 million.) This profitability exceeded analysts' estimates of ? 747 million by close to 14 percent. Yet the company announced recently that it will lay off close to six percent of its workforce. There are at least three reasons for this decision. One is to trim costs. The public message given by SAP is that these layoffs will save ? 350 million ($ 464 million) in 2010. With the unpredictable nature of business in 2009, it makes sense to be cautious. Another reason could be to get rid of dead wood. A downturn is always a great time to confront the bad hiring decisions made during earlier euphoric times. Every manager knows it is much easier to blame a poor economy when firing an employee than to deal head- on with their poor performance. Finally, SAP may have decided to focus on the core. When business is good, the future looking bright and competition intense, SAP invested in products, markets and programs that could help grow the business. But now that times are uncertain, the conservative approach is to scale back to the core. " B2B Internet sales has never been a real focus area for SAP; it's going to be even less so now that SAP is retrenching its investments," asserts Bayer. " Fueled by the need to become more efficient in the order management process and less funding being available for big and long implementation projects, outsourced ecommerce SaaS solutions are defining the concept of innovation in tough economic times." Infrastructure June 09 www. bus- ex. com 15 solution requires a significant amount of time, and therefore cost, to realize. The technology stacks that have to be traversed to give the web user an efficient and friendly experience are many. Deep knowledge of functional and technical implementations of SAP's sales and distribution modules is required, as is an understanding of the technologies that make up secure and high- performing web applications. Business teams must also understand how the modules can be integrated with web services and have the merchandising skills to manage the configuration and display of a product catalog. Finally, the experience and skill sets to collaborate and communicate are required to determine which system should perform which function and store which data in order to give the web user the optimal ecommerce purchasing experience. There is no B2B ecommerce center of excellence in SAP. Each time an ecommerce problem requires a new solution, a new team of independent product experts must be assembled and start from scratch to resolve the issue, resulting in significant consulting bills. " There was a gap in the market since no one was extending SAP with easy- to- learn and easy- to- use ecommerce products," explained Dr. Sam Bayer, chief executive officer and founder of b2b2dot0. " There were two choices: build a custom web site from scratch or heavily customize existing software products." Nordson found b2b2dot0' s solution quite unique according to Berndobler: " Two of the biggest differentiators were cost and time to implement. With all other solutions we evaluated, either costs were much greater ( for hardware, software, and personnel/ consulting time) or the implementation schedule was overly long or both." Nordson began testing the application with a single division, EFD, and it plans to roll out the application as necessary to other divisions beginning in 2009. The initial cost savings have already been quite dramatic says Berndobler. " We have already achieved process efficiencies with our EFD division, especially in dealing with customers that are geographically dispersed. We expect to use the b2b2dot0 service to simplify our order taking process in Asia." According to EFD president Peter Lambert, " Within sixty days of starting this project we were processing orders from over 25 countries into our SAP system in real time. Our customers have been impressed with the website's convenience and ease of use, and consider it a major " Within sixty days of starting this project we were processing orders from over 25 countries into our SAP system in real time. Our customers have been impressed with the website's convenience and ease of use, and consider it a major value- added service. Internally, we have gained tremendous efficiencies in the order management process" Thomas R. Cutler is President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida- based manufacturing marketing firm, TR Cutler, Inc, ( www. trcutlerinc. com).