Long a laggard in the adoption of new technologies, SAP is looking to change that reputation by using emerging web 2.0 tools like wikis and blogs in its next generation of applications, top executives said at the annual Sapphire US user conference this week.

Officials also discussed the state of the company's NetWeaver middleware offerings, based on service oriented architecture (SOA) technologies, which promise to let users link its enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications with other SAP and non-SAP software.

In a keynote address, Hasso Plattner, SAP co-founder and chairman of its supervisory board, said the company's developers are moving quickly to use web 2.0 technologies to make the ERP software easier to use. Plattner said SAP plans to update the software to let users incorporate video and photographs into the applications.

The wikis and blogs can be used by customers to discuss various issues with SAP developers, Plattner said. In addition, he noted that the web 2.0 technologies can be used for internal discussions among corporate IT personnel. Plattner contended that the new features will cut the cost of implementing and servicing SAP applications.

Plattner also said the company is expanding its use of SOA technologies to add a variety of features to its NetWeaver software, including the ability to craft business processes using YouTube-like video-sharing features. Customers can use such features to easily send and receive system designs and change them, and to share workflow charts or photos with partners, suggested Plattner.

Meanwhile, SAP and Cisco yesterday jointly unveiled a set of SOA-based network management applications that can be used to link network systems with business applications. The vendors said the joint offering will help companies better manage network traffic flows and better respond to system events.