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Collaboration Is a Utility, Not a Novelty

I visited an SAP SuccessFactors Hybrid customer yesterday in Alberta, Canada to discuss how the solution can help them run their business better and share the SAP SuccessFactors integration strategy and road map with them. SAP SuccessFactors Hybrid customers are those who run SAP for Core HR and SuccessFactors for talent management and collaboration. The customer I visited is in the Oil and Gas Industry. I met with the CIO and the HR Leadership team to understand their company culture and policy. Their colleagues from Houston, Texas joined via video conference.

I shared the integration strategy and road map in the first 30 minutes and they were pleased with the investment and direction. The SuccessFactors business solution architect then shared his recommendations.

Facebook may be a waste of time. But collaboration is not

I learned that they block Facebook at their company because they believe that it is a drain on productivity. Adam, the SuccessFactors account executive countered that policy very effectively by suggesting that they could harvest the desire of their employees to collaborate and put that to benefit the employees and the business. In other words, he suggested that they use the natural tendency of their employees to collaborate to improve productivity. Their people-development, recruiting and IT teams were open to the idea and asked us how they can go about it. My solution consulting colleague who had joined SuccessFactors about four months ago talked about her learning experience. She said that she learned about SuccessFactors products mostly from videos posted by her peers in the internal solution engineering training Jam group.

The CIO then chimed in and asked if he can use Jam for onboarding new people into the company. He was very excited to know that SAP Jam can solve that problem for him, by automatically adding people to relevant groups in Jam and connecting them with the right people and the right content when they need it the most. I also shared the story of how Account Executives find me in the SAP HCM Exchange Jam group first even before they know who I am.

Collaboration is key to an efficient Human Resources team

The Human Resources leadership team then joined the conversation and said that, because of the energy boom in Alberta, it is very hard to find human resources talent. Their desire is to take a lean HR approach where their HR business partners serve customers face to face and use technology to automate HR processes.

I shared the example of SAP IT using a collaboration tool to improve their productivity, save money and spend time on more value adding activities. Naturally the HR leadership team was excited about the possibilities when they realized that a significant portion of learning and onboarding can be turned into peer-to-peer activities.  SAP Jam and the value it could bring to the HR and IT teams not only made the conversation engaging but also highlighted the thought leadership and innovative thinking that SAP and SuccessFactors teams bring to the table.
I was pleased that an organization that blocks Facebook, not only saw the value in SAP Jam but also was quite enthusiastic about adopting it. It occurred to me that collaboration is not a novelty anymore. It has becomes a utility like electricity and water for a household. An organization without collaboration tools is like a house without electricity or running water. It looks like 2013 could be the year when this transition from novelty to utility might happen. They day when all 15 million SuccessFactors users become SAP Jam users is closer than you think.

If you are an SAP SuccessFactors account executive or a solutions consultant, please share these stories with your customers. I find that stories are the best way to convey the value that SAP Jam brings to our customers. Since most of your audience will be HR or IT professionals, these stories will resonate with them. Another way is to point them to these blog posts via email.
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  • Hi Prashanth,

    This blog was a very good thought on SAP Jam to exhibit the collaboration solution delivered. I attended SAP TechEd in Bangalore and was in a session on Collaboration solution in SAP where SAP Jam was well – presented with the actual screens and various functionalities available.

    Would like to provide my small observations in SAP Jam post the session, they are –

    1) Any new/pending notifications if obtained, no alerts are provided

    2) Look and feel of the SAP Jam can be modified only till the landscape and font changes

    3) SAP Jam does not provide all Tab features available in the side panel

    Is there any new developments planned for SAP Jam in the coming quarters by SAP, as I see it as a good seller for some of the collaboration points between HR and IT teams.

    • Sridevi, Thanks for your comments. There is a lot of investment in SAP Jam. The Jam team is adding more features and looking for feedback on current ones. I will bring this to the attention of the SAP Jam Product Management team. Do you mind elaborating on the three things that you pointed out. Either here or via email.

      • Hi Prashanth,

        Please find my observations on SAP Jam in detail-

        Look and Feel of the SAP Jam screen – The Home screen is aligned in the standard provided style only. Only the background themes and fonts could be changed. Cannot drag and drop the feeds and the groups per the requirement.

        Functionality such as –

        • Status in SAP Jam to enable the notifications or messages to be triggered accordingly
        • Provide option in sharing the SAP screen which require support/assistance per SAP Jam side panels to the groups
        • Connectivity to social media as Facebook, Twitter would enhance the Collaborative solution

        Part of SAP Jam side panels –

        • Alerts on pending notifications is not provided in SAP Jam side panel
        • Other activities such profile changes, team updates/recommendations are not available other than collaboration option in side panel
  • Thank you Prashanth for sharing this. Whether talent crisis is a real issue for the Oil & Gas industry differs from customer to customer. Another oil supermajor customer who met with us recently said that shortage of talent has never been an issue for them, and claimed that every job posting attracts hundreds of resumes. However, the real question is whether they can find the person with the right skillset for the relevant positions.

    I am interested in knowing if the Alberta customer was interested in our new Recruitng solution, which could be the answer to the questions of their HR personnel. If you know of any other O&G customer who is using our Recruiting solutions, please post the story here.

    • Viji, As I mentioned to you, I am a bit suspicious about any organization that says that they do not have a talent problem. Even if they do not have a talent problem for their current operations, demographic changes, emerging markets and mergers and acquisitions will create problems they did not anticipate. Hundreds of resumes does not always mean that they are getting the right talent for their right job inside their company. What happens if they find oil in Edmonton or Saskatoon? What happens if they acquire a company? What happens when their competitors lure away key experts from them. Are they ready and planning for such situations.

  • Hi Prashanth, thank you for sharing such a great customer story.  As many customers are still exploring the enterprise collaboration concept, it would be great to hear a follow-up story on this customer in a few months to understand their progress in adopting SAP Jam and any specific benefits as a result.  Not sure if this is possible but just an idea as others may also be interested?

    • Clementine, Thanks for the comment. I hope things are fine in Sydney. This customer has decided to give SAP Jam a try already. I will keep you posted when I find out more. What stood out for me was even though they were very guarded about the idea of social media usage outside the company (Facebook, Twitter and the like) they were very bullish about using SAP Jam inside the company. They saw it as a utility that can make their employees productive, not as a cool new thing.

  • Hi Prashanth,

    This is a neat story and I am glad that just because an organization blocks Facebook that it still sees the benefits of interaction via social media as a method of collaboration. The use cases are more than just sharing information, as the on-board example goes to prove.

    It’s exciting to see social collaboration move into HRM. While we all saw Talent Management becoming an important part of HRM, social collaboration is relatively new yet has such important benefits for organizations.

    Best regards,


  • Hi Prashanth,

    you spotted and sharply highlighted the relevancy of collaboration today. It is the old story of 1+1 being equal to more than the obvious 2, but it is a story that is still most often forgotten.

    When I look at the generational differences between the the baby boomers, the Gen Xers and the Millennials, and at how these differences will be applicable on the workplace, the one that I find most compelling is not “sense of entitlement” or “self esteem”, but the generation’s ability to collaborate seamlessly, using any tool that technology can provide. Their speed of adoption is incredible, and their effectiveness in collaborating is nothing short of terrific. THAT will change tomorrow workplace and WE can support companies and corporatioon by providing tools like Jam.