Q&A: Microsoft and SAP Ready ‘Mendocino’ for Early Customer Testing

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 16, 2005 — In April, Microsoft and SAP announced the joint development of a product, code-named “Mendocino,” intended to help companies gain a competitive advantage by revolutionizing the way information workers access, analyze and use enterprise data to make better business decisions. “Mendocino” will link SAP process functionality directly to Microsoft Office applications. Users of this product, the first to be developed jointly between SAP and Microsoft, will enjoy the familiarity of Microsoft Office as they access SAP business processes and information. Chris Caren, general manager of Microsoft’s Office Business Applications group, sat down with PressPass to discuss the “Mendocino” project, the December technology preview milestone, and how “Mendocino” relates to Microsoft’s Office business and strategy.

PressPass: Can you give us a progress report on “Mendocino”?

Caren: The development of “Mendocino” is on schedule. On Dec. 23 we’ll deliver a technology preview to 40 customers and 10 partners. So we’re making good progress towards a broader beta release in the spring and final availability in the late-summer 2006 timeframe.

PressPass: Tell me more about the technology preview, how were customers selected, did you get a lot of interest for this first milestone?

Caren: We’ve been extremely gratified by the customer and partner demand for this product. Both Microsoft and SAP had more interest for the technology preview than we can actually fulfill. We jointly submitted customers and partners to be included in the preview program, and ultimately we chose participants so that there’s a good cross section of industries and geographies included; participants span 16 industries and 10 countries. Our plan is to go deep with these customers to refine the product leading into the more public beta milestone in the spring.

Chris Caren, General Manager, Microsoft Office Business Applications

PressPass: Why do you think there is such a demand for “Mendocino”?

Caren: “Mendocino” strikes a chord with customers because it solves some key business challenges. Today, information workers are largely disconnected from company processes and information that resides at the desktop and in business applications is often out of synch. Not only that, business applications are complex and decision makers too often have to rely on power users for up-to-date information and reports, which slows decision making. Giving information workers access to the information they need within the tools they know and use everyday (Microsoft Office) makes a lot of sense. Customers instantly see how it can lead to simplified access to business information and processes, better decision making, and ultimately greater organizational efficiency.

PressPass: What will the first version of “Mendocino” enable?

Caren: We’re focused on four key scenarios that surface SAP information and process in Microsoft Outlook. These are: 1) Budget monitoring, so that managers have access to the financial data they need to fulfill their cost and budget responsibilities, including annual budget planning, budget monitoring, cost analysis and correction of postings; 2) Time management, so employees who need to record and review hours worked can do so within the context of their Outlook calendar; 3) Leave management, to make it easy for employees to request personal leave and receive approvals via e-mail; 4) Organization management, bringing HR-related administrative and planning tasks into Outlook so it’s a very seamless experience for managers.

PressPass: The joint development of a product seems pretty unprecedented; can you explain how the two companies are working together?

Caren: There are executive sponsors at each company – for Microsoft that’s my boss, Lewis Levin – and then each company has dedicated, full-time project management and development teams. While development is not co-located, the teams meet very regularly and there’s a lot of flying back and forth between Redmond and Palo Alto. We fly past the real “Mendocino” quite often.

PressPass: How does “Mendocino” relate to Microsoft’s Office strategy going forward?

Caren: Our goal is to enable Microsoft Office to bridge the gulf between enterprise data sources and the information workers who need to view and analyze business information, plan and make decisions, and collaborate with others. “Mendocino” is a great example of the kinds of scenarios we want to enable for enterprise customers, and it’s just the beginning. In the mid-market, Microsoft Dynamics (formerly Microsoft Business Solutions) also has a very strong strategy focused on great integration between business applications and Microsoft Office. You’ll see us deliver on this strategy of Office as a front-end to business applications with a variety of solutions designed to meet the needs of different customer segments. This is an area where we are continuing to make big investments, and it’s core to our Office business going forward.

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