This is an online exclusive from Public CIO magazine
When someone mentions the acronym "ERP" most public sector CIOs think of finance, payroll, human resources, even procurement. But what about welfare, child support, emergency services or even homeland security?
That's what Steve Peck is hoping governments will do if software giant SAP succeeds with its latest strategy. Peck, who is president of SAP Public Services Inc., which covers the entire public sector in the U.S., says the ERP landscape is shifting and SAP is in a unique position to help government and higher education to benefit from the changes.
The shift Peck is talking about is the emergence of Web Services as a driver for innovation that will allow SAP's more than 30,000 customers to build more nimble, specialized applications on top of their traditional ERP installations. Already Peck has seen government customers "snap-on" child support and disaster management solutions to their existing ERP platforms using a new software engine from SAP called "NetWeaver."
Peck recently discussed the public sector ERP market and NetWeaver with Public CIO.
Q: Can you comment on the consolidation taking place in the ERP and enterprise software market and what its effects might be on the public sector?
Peck: during the whole consolidation, which we don't think is over by a long shot, we've taken this high road....my unit is a beneficiary of the nearly $1 billion that our R&D unit invests annually. We have a focus on meeting the needs of the different public sector entities around the globe. I happen to be responsible for public services in the U.S., but there are succinct markets in there. Higher ed has a different landscape from state markets. You have some areas that used to be custom systems that are moving towards more application-based systems. Child enforcement in Florida, for instance. We're working with the Department of Revenue so they can better collect child support payments. That always used to be custom, it's now COTS.
The landscape continues to shift and the traditional finance or HR providers are consolidating, but there are whole new markets opening up giving us new places to go. We want to keep investing as much as we can in the product and meet the needs of each of these communities. That's the approach we're taking as the rest of [the consolidation] goes on.
Q: Are government requirements for enterprise applications changing?
Peck: I think we're seeing a couple of shifts. First, during the '90s some agencies wanted to break down departmental stovepipes and integrate their accounting, or human resources. You saw that going along with the private sector also. It was the rise of client server computing, not mainframe. Then y2k was the compelling event. You had to replace systems to be compliant.
Since then, this is an area now where the public sector is beginning to embrace what the private sector has done, if you have good integrated business processes, both front office and back office, and you've got the ability to get to one source of the truth from a data perspective, you can better serve the mission of the agency.
What we're finding is that agencies have to operate much more efficiently, be accountable, so there has to be transparency and the constituents no longer want to wait in lines and wait to get access to the data. So you've got to have a tight backend process in order to deliver on those promises. We see that consistently, whether it's a small to medium sized city or a large state, like in Pennsylvania, which