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An interview with Neil Ward-Dutton, research director, MWD Advisors


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We’re excited to share another new analyst report featuring SAP StreamWork from MWD Advisors, entitled “SAP StreamWork: A New Collaborative Decision Making Environment.” The report highlights the trends regarding changes in knowledge-centered work and the need for collaborative solutions to optimize business decision making.

Neil Ward-Dutton, research director at MWD Advisors and one of the authors of the report, sat down to talk with Sherry Bourzac, a member of the SAP StreamWork team, to go over the findings and share his thoughts on all things collaborative.

Based on MWD Advisors’ experience and research, collaborative decision making is still very much an emerging space. We’re still in early days, and as of yet there are not many platforms or tools available. That said, there are two absolute requirements for this type of technology. The first is that, as organizations become more familiar with collaboration on a broader scale, some things stand alone, but we have specific work that needs to get done. More than team productivity and the sharing of ideas, people are applying collaborative technology to support specific kinds of tasks and processes, such as product development, as well as driving management and strategy decisions.

Second, if you look at different business departments, some have a significant amount (perhaps too much) of technology to support the work that gets done, including call centers, finance and human resources. People who work in these areas have a variety of tools available to them. But when it comes to tools specifically to help people make management decisions and drive strategy, well, they have spreadsheets, white boards and email. While that used to work just fine, fine is no longer good enough.

Why? There are three main reasons: the first is the speed of change that currently impacts all businesses; the second is the changing nature of management layers in organizations; and the third is the importance of transparency and auditability. Fast change means a lack of structured support, making things either too slow or too chaotic; today’s organizations have teams that are more geographically and organizationally distributed, so it’s not always practical for them to meet physically when the situation demands; and regulatory compliance today means it’s not good enough to stick a bunch of people in a room to define strategy, with no consensus or recording of what’s happening.

According to Neil, the value of SAP StreamWork is in providing a space where all of this can happen. SAP StreamWork gives us the tools to make decisions that in the past were informal, opaque and hidden. We’re seeing a major shift forward now that these business processes are more formal, transparent and open.

In comparison to similar products, SAP StreamWork is really the first product of its kind, therefore it’s difficult to say how it’s differentiated. Yes, there are other tools out there that help groups of people work together to make decisions, but they are typically more oriented around the coordinated sending and sharing of messages. In addition, one thing that I think is particularly important about SAP StreamWork is the way it’s being integrated with crucial applications and sources of information such as SAP CRM, SAP PLM, SAP BusinessObjects Strategy Management and the upcoming integration with the SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence (BI) platform.

Overall, we see positive things happening for SAP StreamWork and will continue to closely monitor its progress in the collaborative space.

Read the report synopsis here. You can also download a copy on our website.

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