It has been quite a while since my last post, but I blame it on the “midlife crisis-menopause-postnatal stress” kind of life changing moment when you become 27 that caused a small writer’s block. That together with the fact that I traveled through half of Europe in the past three weeks with often limited connection. But it gave me lots of time to think about the meaning of life and the new things that have been released.

Think about IBM and SAP’s announcement of Alloy on IBM Lotusphere 2009 in Orlando (see press release and this article on SAP’s SDN to see some screenshots).

Alloy connects IBM Lotus Notes software with SAP Business Suite to get people to the core of their business. Alloy is a new style of software application that presents information and data from SAP applications in the context of what millions of business users are familiar with — the Lotus Notes collaboration software desktop. This will make it easier for professionals to do their jobs and enhance the investments they have made in their SAP applications.

Alloy supports SAP workflows, reporting and analytics, and the use of roles from within the Lotus Notes client. The product ships with a set of standard workflows and reports. These standard elements may be customized using standard Lotus Domino and SAP tools to reflect a company’s unique processes. IBM Global Business Services, SAP practitioners, Lotus Domino Business Partners and other global and regional systems integrators will be available to customize Alloy. Alloy implementations will take advantage of the collaborative and off-line capabilities inherent in Lotus Notes and Domino products.

Does that sound familiar to you? Does a monkey eat bananas? Yes it does! SAP is betting on multiple horses as it seems since it is partnering with Microsoft already on Duet and OBA (Office Business Applications).

Duet™ is a first-of-its-kind software solution from SAP and Microsoft that enables users to easily and quickly interact with SAP business processes and data via their familiar Microsoft Office environment. The result of a groundbreaking collaboration between SAP and Microsoft, it is the first joint product created by these two industry leaders and is designed to revolutionize how Information Workers interact with enterprise applications.

Best of class enterprise systems provide competitive and monetary advantages to the firms that apply them. However, most enterprise solutions do not enjoy 100% adoption by licensed users. Using Duet, companies can give all their employees improved, flexible, yet appropriate, access to SAP data and processes via their familiar Microsoft Office interface. Duet software brings together the worlds of business productivity applications (Microsoft Office) and enterprise applications so that every Information Worker can become an ‘Enterprise Information Worker’....

So both Microsoft and IBM are now partnering with SAP to bring the enterprise portal to the desktop. What’s one of the most used tools by the enterprise workforce? That’s right: the email client. So it’s not that much of a ridiculous idea to turn that email client into a one stop shopping experience. I would quite like it if I could fill in my hours in SAP ESS (Employee Self Service) through Outlook. Imagine that you book your hours and meetings in your Outlook calendar and that it is synced to your SAP hour management system?

The proof that Outlook is becoming more and more the enterprise portal is Microsoft’s Enterprise Facebook called Townsquare. Not that easy to find useful information about it, but the screenshot below (see original picture on can be both web-based as well as an extra Outlook pane and thus pulling the social network experience into Outlook as well.
















What we’ll get now is that more and more business processes will be seamlessly integrated in the tools we use every day, whether that is Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. When you think about it, it all fits in what we call the “You experience”: it’s all about You. The nowadays spoiled consumer wants its data the way how he/she wants it, when he/she wants it and where he/she wants it. 

So next time that you’ll use that new fancy form in Outlook, you’re actually working on an SAP system. Poor you, you’ll never see it coming…