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I attended a presentation from Roland Hameeteman few days ago. He explained how he summarized his experience about running companies in his book titled Yellow & Blue (in Dutch). He describes the two aspects each organization has. Yellow is the human creativity. It is about listening and understanding the customer and coming up with new ideas. Blue is the process. It introduces structure and efficiency. As he put it “Yellow stands for creating and Blue stands for producing. Yellow & Blue are two ‘cultural systems’ with their own characteristics. Yellow needs trust and Blue needs control.”

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Successful organizations find a good balance between the two. The management literature has nice words to describe such organizations as “Enterprise 2.0” or most recently “Social Enterprise”. For example Bosch has a well-known success story regarding their transformation. They call it “Social Organization”. They say “A “social” organization is like a brain. Networked. Intelligent. Adaptable. Fast.”

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This Social Enterprise has roots in good old Knowledge Management. When I started to look at KM more seriously more than 10 years ago, when I started my PhD about it, KM was a hot topic (even though less hot as in the 1990s) and SAP itself had a solution called KM (in the portal). In the meantime a lot has changed in SAP’s strategy and I would like to ask the question:

How far is SAP with supporting the Social Enterprise?

We have seen many customers using the SAP Enterprise Portal and its KM feature. It has never been best of breed, but many customers used it for some extent, mostly for document and content management. SAP has stopped further developing it and now it is recommended only for smaller scenarios and SAP tells its customers to use the integrated partner offering from OpenText for more complex scenarios.

We have seen the “rise and fall” of SAP Streamworks and of course the main product in this space now is SAP Jam, which originates from SuccessFactors Jam (SAP acquired SuccessFactors in February 2012) with some features from Streamworks. Since this acquisition SAP has been executing its strategy, which is to combine social features into business processes and SAP applications.

SAP Jam has reached 15 million subscribers in May 2014 and Gartner puts SAP among the Visionaries in its Magic Quadrant (Sept 2014). A relatively new and very powerful feature of SAP Jam is the work patterns. Thanks to integration with the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, it can now be extended, even non-SAP data can be integrated, etc.

Despite the obviously great improvements in SAP Jam and the impressive milestone of 15 million users, in my personal experience (among mostly non-SuccessFactors users from the Benelux) many SAP customers use SAP software to make their organization more Blue. What is your experience? Do you see many customers getting more Yellow thanks to SAP solutions?

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