First off: I love the name. It's not cute, it's real English, it fits with the rest of the SAP solution platforms names which all start with the word "business," it's direct, and it even has "meaning" - because as a Business By Design customer, I will be able to design and customize my solution, according to SAP, in more of a "self-service" model.
And I love the interface. It's elegant, it's clear and not fussy, it passes all the tests: a few clicks to what I need to do, the main action "above the fold," personalized and clear. Anything my business needs to do is available to everyone in my business all the time, and its integration is intuitive and solutions-focused.
Lastly, I love the vision, as outlined today by Henning Kagermann and Leo Apotheker. The first ever, totally hosted and subscription-based, comprehensive business solution. And generous: SAP is investing $300 million in the product, and providing customers with a free trial period. It's a big deal, a truly big deal.
And that may be the biggest hurdle it will have to overcome. Small to midsize companies, even the sophisticated growing enterprise with, as Apotheker detailed, "nascent globalization intentions," are wedded at the moment to single point solutions, and for the most part, unsophisticated vendors who basically are - at best - unused to the subscription-based, annuity model. They'd far rather sell you a fully-loaded server, or send you packing to a hefty, cost-per-seat up-front package to handle your financials or order entry than this simple, integrated and fully available now online solution for a low per user fee of $149 per month.
Or would they? That is the question. On the other hand, who really cares about the channel? If SAP can just fuggedaboutit, as we say here in New Jersey, they can offer a direct, community-supported platform for any growing business. Why not? Selling over the internet works real good, as they say in Austin. Particularly if they can bring a strong "network effect" into their marketing plans, to which Apotheker alluded in his one-on-one with the bloggers.
A business service that could skip past all the petty concerns of less noble business models... to enable improved productivity and greater velocity for the world's fastest growing business segment. To boldly go....
Will SAP pull it off? Hmmm. Let us not forget that they convinced the big guys to buy R.3 oh so long ago....