For example, here's the one-liner about BusinessOne that you pointed out:
A SINGLE INTEGRATED BUSINESS MANAGEMENT APPLICATION FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
^^ I get nothing from that. The details section on their website don't do much better. I fear this is not accidental; the pitch is just enough to get you on the phone with one of their sales people.
For ERP applications (which SAP is arguably most famous for) you are basically getting all of the "standard" features that you require to run a business in one highly integrated (and usually highly modular) package. This will include, at a very basic level:
- Accounting (general ledger, fixed assets, accounts receivable, accounts payable, budgeting, consolidation, maybe treasury)
- Supply chain/warehouse
- Manufacturing (processes, bill of materials etc.)
- Interfaces (including web portals, EDI, perhaps direct links to manufacturing systems)
- Many many others...
What arguably makes this all rather complex is providing all of this functionality in a way that can work across a large multi-national organisation - for example, the accounting and tax rules in different countries can be very different. Even the basic technical challenges of getting a Tier-1 ERP working in a global company are non-trivial.
Factor that these things are highly customisable and you can perhaps see why they have to be so complex.
For example. I read the article and think ok, this SAP HANA in-memory technology sounds interesting. I google it, go to their website and see a two minute video that supposedly explains it.
I think cool I'll watch that to get an overview of what it's all about. I watch the first twenty seconds after which I'm still actually eager to learn more. But then the video stops and they put an overlay telling me I need to register to continue watching the video. WTF!
So I still have not much idea of what it is and frankly no further inclination to find out.
SAP has a new CMO, Jonathan Becher, who I hope will bring some improvements to this stuff. Marketing is supposed to be about making stuff easier to buy - and as you rightly point out, SAP aren't always that good at that, especially to a casual observer.