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Author's profile photo Holger Stumm

When ghosttowns went up in clouds (Part II )

From Twitterville to Ghosttown – are social media here to stay?  (Part 1) the slow turning of the business world towards social medias.

This is not merely a questions of product, but a question of extending IT technologies and the related web technologies into a holistic view of information management around enterprises: The people, the products and the relations inside and outside of the company. 

Leo Apotheker has re-appeared and took on a new role. He is now CEO of Nexus , provider of  cloud services in collaborative “agile business networks” in Supply Chain Management (SCM). Not that I want to state anything here, but especially on a second look, this is a very interesting move.

IDG News Service quote: “The next big thing is not so much optimizing processes within a company, but optimizing inter-company processes, and it can only be done on collaborative platforms,” Apotheker said.

Nexus core business is a cloud-based portal where users interact and share information with customers and partners. But this collaboration is dedicated to supply chain. A network of some 40,000 workers at 15,000 companies are in place, and hundreds of companies have tied in their ERP-systems.

A former SAP CEO at a small unknown startup?  Apotheker, for sure, will not stay at Nexus for an extended time. This is rather a strong signal for future orientation and can act as a sign, for a trend to watch. This can we a wakeup ringtone for all the (rather slow) movements in companies to look at all the hype in social medias, collaborative computing, cloud services and networks services to carefully look at what is happening in businessville.

Two of our prime customers, who we work with since their foundations through SAP  and other shareholders in 2001 are so called “Marketplaces”, but the tag is falling short of their actual business model. Both have evolved over time from “buy and sell” marketplace and connection company to a central corporation hub, service provider and broker of services across supply chain plattforms. SAP itself has stakes in some more endeavours of this kind and if you look at the “ECOHub”, you see a lot of similiarities.

There is a new (or should I say “old”) business model evolving. ERP-Systems with their business oriented silo applications (Silo in terms of an enclosed transaction inside a company) are the backbone of core processes. But the interconnection of all these processes, the interaction of external services and partners with the core silo, the company eco system that starts to emerge out of such connections and transactions. It is similar to what Facebook and Twitter provides to end users. “Social Media” for casual end users is the sharing of more or less private likes and dislikes, private interaction of friends and people.

“Social Media” for enterprises is the interaction with companies and partners and the sharing of data and transaction.

The process of managing and the requirements for trust, security, qualifiying and evaluating is very similar.

I see a convergence of interests coming up from these areas of what was (in technical terms) Enterprise Application Integration towards an eco system of enterprises.  The Eco system, the “Corporate Landscape” that is created with their requirements of process interaction (as business variant of  “social interaction”) .

For most large companies, the questions of social media may be not a core topic, as rather one for customer relations and customer management.

But for core ERP processes, the challenge will be to create a “Web 2.0 of enterprises”,  managed communities of companies.

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Imagine for a moment a cloud SAP services like “Business by Design”, with a huge eco system of small and midsize companies. They are all able to interact with their larger partners in terms of ERP interaction. Add processing of the “information shadow” of tangibles, APO and SCM, Business Objects and Excelsius Dashboards and PI and Workflow.

Slowly, new dimensions of business computing starts to evolve. This is no big bang project. This will be a slow, but mounting wave running through the oceans of corporate computing  .

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