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SAPinsider: Drive business transformation by finding patterns


Editor’s note: This article by Sameer Patel, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Social Software at SAP, is reproduced from the Apr-May-Jun 2014 issue of SAPinsider ( with permission from its publisher, WIS Publishing. Read the entire special report on social collaboration at


For the last 40 years in enterprise computing, innovations have focused on automating processes, digitizing connections to people, and outsourcing demand and supply chains to strengthen core competencies (see Figure 1). Many of the most recent innovations have been around social and cloud computing. These technologies give business professionals tremendous access to their employees, partners, and customers, but also to transactions and data in the cloud.

In light of these developments, the fundamental question is whether work has changed — whether sales processes, customer service operations, capacity for learning, and supply chain methodologies were transformed — or if the analog world was simply digitized. If there has been such monumental change, then why do the following inefficiencies persist?

  • The average worker still spends 28% of his or her time managing email and 20% looking for internal information or colleagues.1
  • Sales representatives spend 65% of their time hunting for information and expertise rather than selling.2
  • Only 7% of consumers say that customer service experiences exceed their expectations.3
  • It costs $1,398 to create one hour of learning content.4
  • 43% of companies still do not have complete information about suppliers.5


The Reality for End Users

Digital transformation has occurred in specific business areas, but end users still face this reality:

  • Ad hoc processes and fragmented systems are centered on point functionality instead of conforming to how users want to work.
  • An avalanche of data is being generated across applications that are not aware of end users’ specific roles and what information is important to them.
  • Silos of collaboration have resulted from stand-alone social software applications that cannot leverage the power of customer, employee, and supplier networks and have limited or no connection to meaningful data, processes, or content.

Meanwhile, users are witnessing incredible digital transformation in the consumer world around them. For example, in the last two decades, businesses such as Travelocity and Expedia changed how hotel rooms were sold; now AirBNB wants to sidestep the hotel altogether. Several taxi-locating mobile apps emerged soon after the iPhone was invented; now Uber is trying to eliminate the traditional taxi. Customers are experiencing digital transformation in their lives from 5pm to 9am, so their expectations of how effective the technology in their lives must be from 9am to 5pm have also risen.

Essential Components to Accelerate Performance

Today’s systems are fragmented, with ad hoc data generated by multiple systems that don’t understand the insights users need to get work done. Networks of customers, partners, and employees are completely disconnected from business applications.

To solve this problem, we at SAP looked to our 50-member customer steering committee to understand the two or three work patterns that command how the majority of employees — from support professionals, to product managers, to knowledge workers — work and engage with customers. In sales, for example, the work patterns include prospecting, managing accounts and opportunities, building customer relationships, collaborating on preparing the sale, and learning about products.


When you look away from the rigid lens of transaction-based applications and the loose design of stand-alone social apps and put the end user in the center of the experience, you can start to identify how people, processes, data, and content need to come together to drive each work pattern. Each work pattern is designed around best practices and the specific needs of your own business, leveraging four specific characteristics (see Figure 2):

  1. Designed for you: Instead of having to go to multiple systems, data from multiple systems must come to you in one experience — in your application, social network, or device of choice, combining your data with your access to experts.
  2. Repeatable: Empower people to harness successful business processes and provide a way to templatize and repeat these best practices across your workforce.
  3. Flexible: To gain a competitive advantage from technology, you should be able to build new applications or extend existing ones to differentiate and win in your market.
  4. Network-aware: The best minds among your customers, employees, and partners must wrap around problems and opportunities to give you the best information possible.

This is the essence of work patterns in SAP Jam. We have co-innovated with over 50 SAP customers to transform the process of engaging and delighting customers; how to build, market, and sell products; and how to procure materials. SAP Jam is designed to connect to all your SAP on-premise, cloud, and third-party applications, and avoid disruptions while helping you reimagine how you work. Our line-of-business customers see work patterns deliver on established business key performance indicators (KPIs), and IT leaders can leverage work patterns to discuss transformation with their functional counterparts. This is how we think about the future of work at SAP — and it’s here now.

To learn more, read the other articles in this report and visit

1. McKinsey & Company, “The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies” (July 2012).

2. Jeff Ernst, “New Rules of Sales Enablement” (2009).

3. Echo Research Group, “2012 Global Customer Service Barometer” (2012).

4. ASTD, “State of the Industry Report” (2010).

5. Aberdeen Group, “Supplier Lifecycle Management: Measuring Performance While Mitigating Risk” (August 2012).

Follow SAP Social Software on Twitter: @SAPSocial

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