Jeff's merry band of Bloggers are discussing Duet in some detail at the moment. I have blogged a bit on it before, and it is good to see that I have been thinking much the same things sitting here in island Walldorf that they have.
I'm a big fan of Duet (even if I have some concems about the name). As a presales guy, I have been on the receiving end of SAP's clumsy GUIs for years. Time and time again, customers would tell me, SAP has the functionality, but PeopleSoft is prettier and sexy.
The best response to this was from an italian guy who wanted to buy SAP, but his US boss wanted PeopleSoft.
He said:"boss, in italy women she is sexy. in italy, some cars, like ferrari she is sexy, but graphical user interfaces, she is not sexy"
the room echoed with laughter and SAP won the deal. Grazie..
We are seeing a shift away from one GUI to a many GUI model. the decoupling of the application logic from the GUI will lead to a lot more "pretty" frontends. (This has been something of a recuring theme with me over the last couple of weeks.)
For customers though, it will hard to pick which ones you want to deploy. Lots of companies will now come to you and say "have I got a great gui for you and your SAP systems" Your users will become more demanding. You will need a GUI strategy, I reckon.
Duet's importance by far exceeds what the limited number of currently available scenarios might imply: for SAP it means potentially tripling / quadrapling their user base, even if indirectly, and for Microsoft it's another way to lock users into their Office suite
Vinnie dismisses it as a nice to have. I think he is wrong on this point. So many people are office-bound (pun intended) that it makes sense to bring SAP to them. SAP has tried with various technologies to get to the manager onboard and failed, but I think this will work.
Vinne does raise a concern that I have had before, namely Microsoft's commitment to the party, and the sour grapes from Dynamics lot at msft. SAP's sales force on its own won't make Duet a big hit. (damn these musical puns)
Another real world cocern is that Duet will mean that customers will have to upgrade to the Office 2003 enterprise professional. If IT budgets get hit with the dreaded office upgrade, how much IT time will be available for other SAP projects we'd like to be selling them.
Managing the channel between SAP and Microsoft will be challenging. Our partner folks will need to do more than produce nice joint brochures.
At least we have something sexy to demo, if not for the italians..