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Last week, an SAP developer contacted me to notify me about the new Business ByDesign specific subsite. OK so it is very sales oriented as I’d expect but it represents a step in the right direction for SAP. For a start it is coherent and self contained. I understand pretty much everything that’s there and can navigate around with relative ease.

I wrote up a more comprehensive assessment over at ZDNet and yes, there are some nits. The one thing I didn’t address though – or at least didn’t address forcefully enough – is the lack of obvious ‘web 2.0’ features. Instead, I said:

What seems to be missing is the ability to include user generated content such as company wiki, RSS and blogs of the kind you might find on an intranet replacement like Thoughtfarmeralthough it does include the all important learning center. If SAP takes that extra step, this would have a much better chance of full company wide adoption.

While I enjoy the utility of web 2.0 ‘stuff’ I tend to be a tad cautious when it comes to implementation.There is too little connectivity between these applications and the business processes they are meant to support. In my mind that leads to the conclusion that content without context and process is meaningless. People who know me will recognize that wee mantra but it is true. 

Even so, no sooner had I hit the publish button and I started to receive emails from SAPpers and others complaining that I hadn’t been hard enough on the lack of ‘web 2.0’ style functionality within the site.

SAP has plenty of experience with user generated content – that’s what SCN is about isn’t it? I see more experiments with video every week, RSS is starting to make business sense to many and yet sme.sap.com has eschewed the inclusion of those elements. Why? There is no logical reason to avoid these technologies and everything to gain. As a potential end user, I want a richer experience. 

When these issues are raised, the pushback I get reflects the caution with which SAP does so many things. That’s re-assuring I suppose and in line with the company’s image. But it doesn’t send the right progressive message I’d like to see.

ByDesign is a significant departure for SAP at many levels. Why not take those few extra steps and make sme.sap.com something that truly stands out?

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2 Comments

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  1. Bernd Eckenfels
    I agree that SAP should approach this “project” from a different side. Iff byDesign going to pick up momentum there will be a large user base of trusted users who could use intra and inter company collaboration based on SAP technoloy.

    Would be even good for Partners to build Socla App modules which can be plued into the byDesign “intranet”.

    However: I dont mind so much the fact that the sales oriented page lacks this features…

    Gruss
    Bernd

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  2. Robert Briese
    Hi Dennis,

    as a solution manager / technical project lead, I was responsible for the implementation of collaboration platform inside the Business Center, and I can tell you that SAP was very keen on using the experience gained from SCN ‘web 2.0’ solutions into the Business Center. The community platform includes beside the learning center mentioned by you, the “Jive” forum that is now part of the standard SAP NetWeaver product, RSS feeds, the same Wiki platform used on SCN, a blog solution and an interactive media section. All this solutions have been implemented with a focus to allow user generated content and a richer experience with the product.
    I’m afraid that the permission model is still very restricted, as it was at the time I left the project, and that might be the reason you don’t have access to all the above mentioned interaction platforms.

    Best regards,
    Robert

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