SAP Enterprise Portal is the runway on which diverse, web accessible content is hosted. SAP EP-KMC( Enterprise Portal – Knowledge Management and Collaboration ) is the package which is implemented across various customers. Portal has been positioned by SAP, from the initial times of SAP NetWeaver in 2000, as the platform that hosts diverse content and allow users to store unstructured content(KM) and collaborate(C) with other users on the portal.
In my observation the collaboration has been like a feature which no one uses but has to be included to come across a complete solution. As a caveat, the opinions in this blog are based on my experience with the SAP projects and the publicly shared SAP content. Collaboration has never been the preferred platform by many of the customers especially when compared to the platforms existing on the web. Technically, SAP EP’s Collaboration never seemed to be an alternative to other collaboration platforms on web. Colloboration, which was once a separate task is now the fundamental part of every task. We collaborate on every aspect both conventionally (meeting rooms, webex, etc. ) and unconventionally ( forums, blogs, etc. ). We now go to web for solution to most issues and review it internally prior to implementation. In this age of ubiquitous collaborative environment of Facebook, Twitter, Webex, Skype etc., should SAP formally drop collaboration from the Portal? Should SAP go forward and allow integration of Portal with the existing collaboration platforms?
Oxford dictionary terms collaboration as, “The action of working with someone to produce something“. Traditionally, it involved meeting people in person. It evolved to conversations/discussions on web. However, the aspect of collaboration is not restricted to people on the same network at the same time. Cloud platform is the classic case of collaboration where the content in available to all and can be worked on together to produce something. SAP has its solutions on cloud, it allows collaboration in Visual enterprise, Success Factors and etc.
The advent of mobile has really thrown open more channels of collaboration. In a recent survey, it was found that calling is sixth in the list of feature on mobile phones used by the current crop of mobile users. Messaging and browsing are the top two usages of mobile phones. It just shows that collaboration is now part of everyday life and SAP is not the place where we go to collaborate. We may be restricted from using the web platforms to collaborate on enterprise/business tasks but we have plaethora of enterprise collaboration platforms like Lync, WebEx, Skype etc. to collaborate in teams.
“We want to make the ‘S’ in SAP stand for simple” – Jonathan Becher, CMO, SAP. In the endeavour of simplicity, SAP has to embrace not just new solution but be prepared to leave things which do not work. Collaboration platform in Enterprise Portal is not simple to use. It is also not something which does not work seamlessly. So, in my opinion SAP should look into it and consider either a revamp or restructure of the Portal based collaboration solution.
I would welcome the feedback and criticisms of the members of SCN.