Microsoft, SAP sing praises of Duet

Accessing mySAP via Office will be boon to knowledge workers

Microsoft and SAP made good last week on a long-standing promise with "Duet," an integration of Microsoft's ubiquitous Office productivity suite and SAP's software.

Duet, formerly known as "Project Mendocino," is the product of a year-long development effort between the companies that will give knowledge workers and their managers a way to get at SAP information and transactions from Office. Executives from both companies promoted it as a safe, controllable, and convenient way to move data back and forth between applications

"Traditionally, we have had different kinds of applications from different kinds of vendors all architected differently, and that is not what people want," said Jim Shepherd, senior vice president at AMR Research.

Many knowledge workers, for example, are unsure how or if they should move their spreadsheet data into their SAP business applications. Duet will make it safer to do that, according to Shepherd.

Atmel, an embedded-chip manufacturer, is one early adopter of Duet. The Office interface was a boon for employees who are not comfortable navigating in SAP, said Mike Sisois, Atmel's CIO.

"We have marketing guys who want to see customer data or planning guys looking at a particular project. They've known Outlook for years and they know how to navigate. It will become their vehicle to get to SAP data," Sisois said.

Rather than getting buried in meeting requests for minor reports, IT can concentrate on things that benefit a business in the long run, Sisois said. "Self-service applications like Duet make the business more productive," he said.

Microsoft and SAP will release Duet as "value packs" for business scenarios that use different components of the mySAP business suite. The first scenarios will be for budget monitoring, time management, leave management, and organization management. They will ship in June.

More scenarios for CRM, SRM (storage resource management), and supplier relationship management will be available in the second half of 2006, the companies said.