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Below follows an excerpt from my personal blog… 

“The exciting moments for me came in three sessions- at the very end of three hours of death by PowerPoint on the first day, when we were introduced to the concept of SAP Business User Applications, during the Business User Application session later that day, and during the SAP Netweaver track the next morning. That was clearly where the action was. The key to understanding SAP’s ambitions, or at least first footsteps into what Sig calls BRP, came here. The release of SAP Collaboration Server in a couple of months (with a major feature bump about six months later) will make things a lot clearer. SAP is moving beyond top down well defined business processes into a more lightweight ad-hoc view of process. After all, a lot of what businesses do is implicit – its simply not documented. Enabling implicit processes, which are often workarounds, is a long long way from SAP’s roots.

The market needs to understand that SAP’s acquisition of Business Objects is intended to be transformational. It is not a tuck-in. SAP has never sold to power users building situational analytics and reports before. This is a new customer set. But SAPs’ ambitions are not just in the analysis space-the software it plans to build will be tasked with helping Business Users build ad-hoc, or situational applications. Some of the Business User apps will be throwaway, and intended to be so.

For those that didn’t know IBM’s biggest competitor in portals in Europe is not Microsoft or Oracle or BEA – its SAP. What next? 2.0: the Collaboration Server will include the ability to create self-organised workspaces, forums, and wikis. It will also allow the tagging of all artifacts. Sharepoint integration will be included out of the box. I am not quite sure why Atlassian isn’t being OEM’d – but apparently its not. Users will be able to create notes, but also tasks for other users.

What had me rocking on my heels was just how much the task manager reminded me of 37Signals Highrise (a tool RedMonk uses internally). 37Signals is “sexy” – one of its founders is the Scandinavian rockstar behind Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson.  On the tech industry sexometer, 37Signals is like Spinal Tap- they have a special cool amplifier that goes up to 11. Now the UI was different but the ad-hoc case management really smacked of Highrise. So much so good. What surprised me even more (I was practically doing the limbo I was so far back on my heels) was that when I asked Doug Merritt, the guy responsible for this new business line at SAPstraight-out confirmed that his team had indeed looked at Highrise in building the app.”

 So what about this Netweaver meets Facebook and OpenSocial stuff?

OK- one of the scenarios Doug and Jonathan’s group is working on is M&A. What could be a more ad-hoc “process” than M&A? What do you compare – product portfolios, associated revenue and people.

So first you diff the product lines to see what the overlaps are. Deal with the revenue. So far, so Business Objects. But wait a second. What about the people? Who are going to manage the teams? Who should we place where? First merge the enterprise directories. What does that tell us? Not much. Next… lets index our corporate email systems and wikis to see who is collaborating and contributing, on what. Huh? SAP is mining the social graph? For now its just a scenario, but I wouldn’t bet against it being in product within a year. The next step was the coup de grace though.

Doug and Jonathan, playing out the scenario, said we’re still not sure whether to put this guy in charge of the new group. OK – let’s import information from Orkut and Facebook to help with the final decision. Blammo, as Cote might say! SAP is already considering how to make use of the OpenSocial API in a real business application.”

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2 Comments

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  1. Darren Hague
    You’re saying what I’ve been thinking for a while. People are already building social and business networks using Facebook and LinkedIn, and people also have intra-enterprise networks that are not yet online in any way. It can’t be long before “enterprise social networking” becomes the next hot topic, and there are obvious links to the org structure, project teams, etc where such networks could be initiated semi-automatically. OpenSocial might even allow you to import you LinkedIn network to your enterprise’s network.

    – Darren

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  2. Mel Calucin
    If this is true that Confluence wiki will not be part of Netweaver, I’m hoping that whatever wiki SAP comes out with would be able to have some kind of diagramming tool like the Confluence add on tool — Gliffy.

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    Mel Calucin
    Bentley Systems, Inc.

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