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I recently came across a new offering from SAP Consulting for integrating StreamWork into CRM. This offering is associated with a new consulting package called “SAP CRM express” which is a “flexible building block kit from SAP Consulting for a fast realization of your CRM-Strategy based on the SAP CRM Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS)”.  The StreamWork integration is offered as an additional predefined service in the package and provides the following functional scope:

  • Integration into all three CRM areas: Sales, Marketing and Services
  • Multiple StreamWork activities can be created from many objects in SAP CRM, like accounts, opportunities and campaigns
  • Key StreamWork functions are available directly in SAP CRM. Create and edit everything directly in the native CRM WebClient UI
  • SAP StreamWork News Feed integrated both on SAP CRM homepage and  object-specific in detail views
  • Installation of  SAP StreamWork Enterprise Agent and Add-ons for SAP CRM
  • User training guide

Note: I’m especially pleased to see the StreamWork feed being integrated into CRM and would be curious to see how the filtering works in the “object-specific [feeds] in detail views” inasmuch as this shows social content presented in a process context.  

A SAP press release in May announced a similar integration:

SAP StreamWork, enterprise edition, now offers integration with several SAP applications, including the SAP® Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) application for social CRM, enabling sales leaders to bring teams together — sales, customer service, consultants and more — to help close sales opportunities more quickly. Sales teams can also collaborate directly with their customers to help ensure the products and services are delivered when expected and to help address the requirements defined.

At the time, there were some details about how such “links” would be supported.

StreamWork customers would buy the application links “as either pre-packaged solutions from SAP (or consultants) or as small consulting engagements from SAP or consultants,” according to a spokesman.

I’m unsure if the integration mentioned in the PR announcement is the same as that provided by SAP Consulting – which might be restricted to RDS-based solutions – but I found the SAP Consulting offering interesting for various reasons.

POV

Out-of-the-Box StreamWork Integration in BusinessSuite?

I had hoped that StreamWork  integration with BusinessSuite applications would be standardized and be part of the out-of-the-box functionality provided by these applications.  This would help StreamWork increase its footing in the landscapes of existing SAP customers.  The fact that this functionality is an add-on that must be purchased separately rather than being available as standard functionality is disappointing.  My impression of this decision is that the new style of collaboration in enterprise software (as represented by StreamWork) is still not considered to be an integral part of the BusinessSuite.

Most SAP applications require some degree of customization and the integration with StreamWork would in all likelihood also require customization. If, however,  a special heavy-duty SAP Consulting effort is necessary to get the integration working,  the penetration level of StreamWork in SAP OnPremise customers won’t be as high as might be expected.

Note: I was also surprised to see that SAP Enterprise Agent is a prerequisite for the SAP Consulting solution.  This requirement means additional costs for customers – but also more security. I’d be interested to know if future BusinessSuite integrations have the same requirement or whether it might possible to use the Professional version of StreamWork.

StreamWork maturity level

The fact that there is a SAP Consulting offering regarding StreamWork integration shows that the platform has reached a high level of maturity and that other parts of the SAP organization are now becoming aware of its potential – they are realizing that they can make money from it. I’m hopeful that the SAP Sales organization also acknowledges this development and starts to more aggressively promote the platform. 
Note: There may be other offerings from SAP Consulting in OnDemand platforms but the one in the SDN wiki is the only publicly accessible one that I’ve found. I also looked in the EcoHub  for similar offerings but I didn’t find anything. Hopefully, this absence will be remedied in the future as more offerings emerge.

SAP Consulting efforts in different OnDemand platforms

When pundits pay attention to SAP’s OnDemand efforts, the focus is usually on BusinessByDesign and the other LoB OnDemand applications (such as SalesOnDemand).  The above-mentioned SAP Consulting offering for StreamWork demonstrates that other OnDemand areas covered by SAP (for example, those associated with Edge OnDemand) also have potential for SAP Consulting offers.  I assume that are also SAP Consulting offers regarding SAP CarbonImpact (which runs on River) but I didn’t find any evidence of their existence.

The potential of hybrid environments

The particulars of the SAP Consulting offer also reveal the area in which such consulting efforts will be the most lucrative in the future – the integration of existing OnPremise installations into OnDemand platforms.  The importance of such hybrid environments was also acknowledged by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff at the recent DreamForce conference.
http://searchsap.techtarget.com/news/2240075698/SAP-on-demand-honcho-cites-growing-demand-for-hybrid-deployments
The very nature of SaaS environments (for example, multi-tenancy) means that standardization is critical and huge customization/implementation projects in these environments aren’t to be expected.  By focusing on the OnPremise customization necessary in hybrid environments, consulting companies can open new growth areas – albeit without the expectation of the large (in terms of the involved efforts) implementation projects with which they were accustomed.  The skills necessary for such projects are more associated with integration rather than intensive back-end customization.  Also the difficulties experienced in integrating standardized SaaS solutions and highly customized OnPremise environments isn’t to be underestimated and should also provide new opportunities for consulting efforts.  The teams necessary to deal with such projects require experts who understand the involved SaaS solutions as well as consultants who are familiar with the customer-specific characteristics of the OnPremise environments.

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  1. Dennis Howlett
    Great explanation of how you see the market Dick. The fundamental problem as I see it is the model SAP proposes is really only a tweak on what already exists. Combine that with atomising the solutions so that everything becomes an add-on and you quickly see where this goes.

    How for example are you going to rationalise ROI in this context and especially with socialised apps that to date do not have a great history of success except among those for whom collaboration is a natural part of what they do? Remember how we fell flat with ESME 3 years ago?

    SAP could do so much more by bundling functionality or adding it in for free to see how adoption works.

    Right now this looks like the never ending consulting engagement charter in disguise.

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    1. Richard Hirsch Post author
      I agree.

      Atomizing OnPremise / OnDemand integrations provides SAP consultants / SI with a wide variety of new opportunities. That is why when I described hybrid envs as being “lucrative”, I was referring to the potential benefits for consulting houses rather than SAP customers. The question is whether SAP really has any other option at present and in the near future.  The fact that SAP is largely dependent (via maintenance fees, etc) on its OnPremise customers and the still nascent OnDemand efforts means that hybrid solutions are difficult to avoid. The atomization of such solutions is also difficult to change when the required functionality isn’t yet included in the BusinessSuite core.

      StreamWork is an OnDemand offering with its focus on collaboration. As you suggest, the integration of such functionality – regardless of whether it is SaaS-based or not – is a challenge. I’m almost more interested in StreamWork as an example of how SAP’s plans to deal with such integrations from a general perspective. For example, are the integration of other SAP OnDemand offerings (SalesOnDemand) also based on consulting efforts?

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      1. Dennis Howlett
        I’m not sure that will work. For example, Sales OnDemand is pretty much a self evident solution which I am told connects to SD. Why would I need any/much consulting if all that is happening is an integration?

        I have said publicly that SAP could do much better if it developed an AppStore, concentrated upon mobile apps, which in turn force redesign for each use case (except where it means a replication of desktop functionality.) That would simplify many things and reduce the consulting dependency that arises out of an integration. However, it would likely increase the demand for new applications which in turn drives design and consulting potential.

        This is a model I am seeing among Salesforce.com customers. Demand is skyrocketing as companies see the potential for new, mobile applications that deliver self evident value. One example I saw is merchandise planning for retail and CPG. Very easy to understand but capable of business wide deployment.

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      2. Dennis Howlett
        I’m not sure that will work. For example, Sales OnDemand is pretty much a self evident solution which I am told connects to SD. Why would I need any/much consulting if all that is happening is an integration?

        I have said publicly that SAP could do much better if it developed an AppStore, concentrated upon mobile apps, which in turn force redesign for each use case (except where it means a replication of desktop functionality.) That would simplify many things and reduce the consulting dependency that arises out of an integration. However, it would likely increase the demand for new applications which in turn drives design and consulting potential.

        This is a model I am seeing among Salesforce.com customers. Demand is skyrocketing as companies see the potential for new, mobile applications that deliver self evident value. One example I saw is merchandise planning for retail and CPG. Very easy to understand but capable of business wide deployment.

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        1. Richard Hirsch Post author
          Regarding the SalesOnDemand / SD integration, I think the important question concerns to what degree the back-end is customized and how these non-standard features are reflected in the SalesOnDemand environment. Not knowing the technical details or the underlying data-related assumptions for the integration makes it tough to figure out the actual possible difficulties – if indeed they exist.

          Regarding the idea of a AppStore: I agree that there is a great potential for developers.  I think there is a certain tension between standardized apps – one size fits all – and the need to support multiple variations of a single use case.  The customer desire to have an app that requires little customization but still meets their particular requirements (for example, for a particular region or industry) – forces developers to create multiple versions of one application.  This necessity should lead to more sales – which is obviously a good thing.

          But will customers welcome such an AppStore if only standardized/general apps exist but not the plethora of one-off apps that reflect their particular use case? It is the quantity of such one-off applications that makes such marketplaces successful. How long will it take for SAP and the ecosystem to achieve this critical tipping point? 

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          1. Dennis Howlett
            @dick – I should have been more explicit. The apps I am seeing from tier-2 Salesforce.com SIs (some of which are led by ex-SAP execs) for some of the world’s largest companies (including SAP customers) are exactly as you describe. Customised and built from scratch from the ground up in days and weeks.

            It’s all about the tools, the willingness to see things differently and respond to customer needs. It doesn’t all have to be one size fits all.

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  2. Jarret Pazahanick
    I think SAP will continue to push this hybrid strategy both in the OnDemand and ByDesign space in order to get incremental revenue and not impact the maintenance “cash cow”. I see WAY to many consultants struggle with SAP on-premise on its own and many others that have no idea what OnDemand or ByD even is (always surprises me) so to expect there to be a large group of consultants in the marketplace with these skills even if there is demand will be awhile in the making.
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    1. Richard Hirsch Post author
      I think the impulse to change must come from customers. If customers perceive a value in such hybrid solutions, then they will look to SIs/consultants who can meet such requirements.
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