Why SAP StreamWork pulled Gravity from Google Wave
Following the announcement just over a week ago that Google Wave is being closed down, I have been asked several times if our decision to develop the first version of Gravity on the SAP® StreamWorkTM application platform was cunning, vision, luck or what?
The answer is…. natural evolution. Google Wave was a great environment for experimentation, and prototyping different aspects of collaboration. It enabled us to embed “Gravity” (nickname of a collaborative business process modeler) to make a very important point about business process management: process modelling needs to take place within a larger context, in this case a conversation on a process in a general purpose tool.
Then along came SAP StreamWork, an SAP Web Platform with a very specific goal (originally available as a beta version called “12 sprints”). We’ve again embedded Gravity to show that process modelling takes place in a larger context, that of collaborative decision-making. This does not mean that SAP StreamWork will necessarily be the only platform where you find Gravity, but it almost certainly will be the first.
The reason for this move is not so much Gravity itself, but more a consequence of what SAP StreamWork is there for. SAP StreamWork has a very specific focus. It is not an all-purpose web portal (such as Google Wave tried to achieve), it is a portal to help business users satisfy real business needs – occasionally alone in vacuum; but more often together with colleagues in collaboration, in a structured, easy to follow way.
The business needs here are very focused. If it may be about visualizing a hurdle to overcome; it may be about a decision that needs to be made; it may simply be about describing a roles and the separation of responsibilities (RACI diagram)… So the Web tools to support this have to be equally focused.
But complex problems or complex interactions are not simply solved by one interaction. They always involve a whole sequence of interactions, often involving different companies, departments or individuals. And it is this route to the solution, the process followed, that determines how good or timely or effective the solution will be. So defining the process, collaboratively with different stakeholders and participants, is a key success factor. And the same applies to redefining an existing process, so often the root cure for a series of emergency decisions such as a production or delivery bottleneck. And let’s face it, emergency decisions are best handled in a collaborative decision-making environment – enter SAP StreamWork – so Gravity fits this Web platform perfectly. If you want more detail about how this is done visit the Gravity – Collaborative Business Process Modelling and Application Development.
Gravity is the tool that supports this – so Gravity is being developed for the SAP StreamWork platform as a first-class citizen. Incidentally, this also has the advantage of being able to influence some of the platform aspects of SAP StreamWork, so that additional technical capabilities developed to support graphic process-modeling in real time, can be offered to other tools in SAP StreamWork and the whole platform evolves to the benefit of all.
Yes, as someone who actively dabbled with Google Wave at the beginning I am sad to see this platform go. But as a committed SAP StreamWork user (hey – it can be used for free and is open to the public right now) , I’m very glad the decision was made early on to focus on the SAP StreamWork application instead.