A background discussion with Stephan Kohlhoff from Visual Enterprise Solution Management at SAP AG about first successes and next steps to make the visual enterprise visible in the market.
An interview by Bernhard D. Valnion, Editorial Head of Economic Engineering magazine
Dr Kohlhoff, more than a year has passed since the acquisition of Right Hemisphere. What can you say about the results of the intensive marketing of SAP Visual Enterprise over that time period?
We are on a good track judging by the very promising feedback, not only from our clients but also from the market overall, for instance from analysts. The general tenor is very positive that the supremely powerful visualization technology we offer for the management of business processes brings more speed, reliability and efficiency. And internally the resonance is good, too.
You mentioned that business processes can be designed more reliably with the help of high-end visualization. Why is that?
Well yes, in terms of better data processing and decision-making, because the context of the content can be recognized much faster and conclusions derived more easily. To be honest, to get these results a lot of integration work has to be done and is still necessary, and that is between very different technology approaches. In order to move forward, we cultivate close cooperation with our clients.
In other words, SAP is on its way to bringing data mining and business intelligence closer together…
…if you like, yes. A lot of persuasion is needed, especially when you consider where 3D visualization is coming from. 3D visualization is well distributed in the engineering departments. Therefore, we try to cooperate with customers engaged in considerable design and engineering, but need to quickly move forward along the value chain to manufacturing, sales, service and maintenance.
But 3D is a blessing for all discrete and process manufacturing industries!
There are many customers using 3D data in downstream processes but they do not generate much business value there. On the other hand, there are companies that have realized the advantages, such as for the support of maintenance or service activities, but for them it is not easy to consistently provide 3D data. For this reason, we try to address this topic at the very beginning in the engineering, following up with support of manufacturing and later of service, and most, important analytics.
Which industrial sectors you will address first?
Different ones. Companies in the plant and machinery sector for example, especially those that start with their own development process. This is the key to demonstrating the point of proof of the value of visualization outside of engineering one possible application is to provide a contractor with streamlined 3D data for the bidding phase.
And what can we expect for 2013?
Using engineering data as a resource we shall realize more function-rich integrations for new applications fields. One task will be to provide interfaces for the import of additional data formats into SAP PLM. We are also working on another solution, called SAP Visual Manufacturing. This is basically about the management of the manufacturing master data, e.g. to generate assembly sequences based on corresponding 3D information in order to derive work as well as training instructions and/or routings and manufacturing BOM. A step further will go in the direction of infrastructure management, i.e. asset management in the broadest sense. Since in this case we are faced with the problem that a lot of our customers have no 3D data available we also support enhanced 2D data handling. This is a focus of our activities because we do not want to wait until 3D data of plants or other facilities become available for asset management scenarios like extended technical publications. These activities, of course, will go far beyond the year 2013.
Thank you for your comments!