BetterPlace chooses IBM Global Services to implement its SAP ERP (Hebrew) – http://bit.ly/JRQwZ
Better Place is a California-based, startup that aims to reduce global dependency on petroleum through the creation of a transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles. Typically the vehicles will be capable of having their batteries swapped out to facilitate rapid ‘refueling’ of the vehicle, analogous to swapping out rechargeable batteries for your kids (or your!) toys.
Better Place will build its first Electric Recharge Grids in Denmark, Israel and Australia where the electricity will be generated by renewable energy. In fact, Denmark and Israel have gone so far as to enact policies, which create a tax differential between zero-emission vehicles and traditional cars, to accelerate the transition to electric cars.
Well done to those geographies that have jumped aboard. Given that the lack of effective energy storage mechanisms is one of the biggest impediments to large scale Smart Grids electric cars will play a dual role – lowering emissions directly and becoming a giant distributed battery for the country. Renault Nissan is the initial vehicle partner.
But what of the applications and service oriented network that will underpin Better Place? Given Shai Agassi, Better Place’s founder, was previously head of SAP’s product and technology group its no real surprise he would choose SAP for the core transaction platform. As I understand the SOA platform will be SAP NetWeaver-based. The Better Place on SAP story is great fodder for SAP’s new Clear New World thinking, and sustainability focus. If you haven’t heard of Clear New World yet its SAP’s new campaign to drive real time business transparency at customers.
SAP however doesn’t provide implementation services, which is where IBM Global Services comes in. Better Place is of course a stone cold classic Smarter Planet play. What is Smarter Planet? Its the world of everything instrumented, everything talking to each other, everything working together more effectively. Smarter Planet is also IBM’s engagement model in an age of stimulus funding.
Smarter Planet is not about technology so much as organisation and Big Systems thinking. IBM is co-investing with governments around the world in areas such as energy, healthcare, transport systems, water quality because they are set to be the century’s biggest challenges. Big Challenges = Big Revenues.
Oracle and HP interestingly enough, are in contrast yet to really position themselves for the new era – certainly not in grand societal terms anyway. There are any number of reasons why IBM might finally decide to pull the trigger and acquire SAP – but the kind of huge projects Better Place represents could be the best one yet.
disclosure: SAP, HP and IBM are both customers.