SAIL: Why we added a new application integration layer to SAP Jam
Silos slow your work down
Imagine you worked for a company with an unusual policy: All “work” done by employees had to be done in Building A, and all “collaboration” had to be done in Building B.
Even if the buildings were close together, it’s not hard to imagine that the company’s performance would suffer. Any time communication was necessary – for instance, in case of an exception to a process – workers would have to schlep back and forth between buildings. Worse still, they’d have to haul any relevant papers or objects with them to illustrate their questions to their colleagues.
With the increasing proliferation of social tools within enterprises, it’s also not hard to imagine the digital equivalent of this ridiculous scenario. For many workers, it’s already a reality. To get work done, they use System A. To communicate about the work they’re doing, they use System B.
Workers may not be walking across the campus, but there is still a real cost in efficiency. Information has to be copied to a different system. Data and files don’t stay up to date. Information may not be complete, and it’s hard to guess whether what you’re seeing is accurate. It costs time and energy to go back into the “work” system to verify data and pull it into the “collaboration” system before you can start a conversation about it.
Collaboration needs to be infused in processes
When we released SAP Jam a year ago, its overarching vision was to alleviate this pain. We wanted to help people collaborate within the business processes and applications they already used – rather than in separate silos of collaboration disconnected from the work they needed to accomplish every day.
With the announcement of Work Patterns this week – pre-built collaborative processes that combine expertise, content, and best practices with real-time business data and applications – we’re continuing to deliver on this vision.
One of the keys to this achieving this vision is making it easy to connect SAP Jam to your existing applications and the information stored in them.
But it’s a fact of life that as fast as cloud adoption is growing, more large organizations have huge investments in on-premise applications – and those legacy apps aren’t going away any time soon. That leaves a technical challenge that’s harder than you might expect – how to connect and integrate cloud systems with on-premise systems.
SAIL: A social application integration layer
As part of the latest release of SAP Jam, we’ve evolved the way that it connects to on-premise applications – and the way that on-premise applications connect to SAP Jam. A central component of the evolution is SAIL – a social application integration layer proprietary to SAP.
The core function of SAIL is to allow SAP Jam to access data from on-premise systems – and on-premise systems to access data from SAP Jam. SAIL makes it easier to integrate ABAP-based systems like SAP CRM with SAP Jam. Using SAIL, processes in the ABAP system can do things like trigger a post to be published to the SAP Jam feed when a business record changes or when a user comments on a business transaction.
Collaboration groups in SAP Jam can be associated with business records in SAP CRM. SAIL also makes it possible to bring user-interface elements from SAP Jam into on-premise systems like SAP CRM, so that users can see their business records side-by-side with any SAP Jam documents, business tools and social activities that they’ve associated with that business data. Finally, using SAIL, SAP Jam can now display live business records from the integrated system in its feeds and groups – breaking down the barriers between work and collaboration even further.
Social for on-premise and cloud
Though the focus of SAIL is on-premise systems, we’re also extending the same concept to cloud applications from SAP and SuccessFactors. We believe it’s important for a social environment to maintain two-way communication with transactional systems, regardless of whether they’re in the cloud or on-premise. That’s because a social environment like SAP Jam fills functional gaps that HCM, CRM, ERP, and other systems are not designed to meet. It’s better suited to handle unstructured parts of a process – like conversations, ideas, questions, documents, images and videos. By bringing business context into SAP Jam – while also providing just the right amount of social collaboration inside transactional systems – we give people a better way to work within the processes they already use.
Going forward, SAIL, in combination with our open-standards compatibility, will allow developers to control how SAP Jam consumes and surfaces objects in very complex ways. We’re committed to making SAP Jam work with data and applications from all sources, both cloud and on-premise – so that you can truly bring collaboration into the context of all your business processes and ultimately speed your work.