Paths to Knowledge

SAP NetWeaver ’04 has been available for more than half a year now, yet SAP Knowledge Management (SAP KM) still remains an area of unexplored treasures for many customers. SAP KM now contains a series of generic services that provide enhanced functionality for SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI):

  • Unified access to structured and unstructured content across multiple “document” repositories. Repository managers from both SAP and third parties enable the user to access document stores using SAP NetWeaver Portal.
  • Extensive Content Management services for documents, such as check-in/check-out, subscription, rating, feedback, and free-form comments.
  • Full content search and classification functionality
  • Fully configurable (flexible) user interfaces (“Flex UI”) for modifying the user’s view at group or individual level.
  • Extensibility via “Collaboration Rooms” (specialized SAP KM document stores) to provide a virtual workspace for groupware integration, real-time collaboration tools, and unified calendaring/scheduling capabilities.

Data and documents

Initiating information
Initiating information

Knowledge workers need the ability to access analyses, facts, and figures from different sources. They must also be in a position to distribute this information in a targeted way. SAP Knowledge Management (SAP KM) permits uniform access to enterprise data and documents in a variety of formats. Structured data and analyses are available in SAP NetWeaver BI via Business Explorer (BEx) Web Analyzer or BEx Analyzer in Microsoft Excel. Here users can find existing analyses from day-to-day business transactions conducted in the enterprise, for example sales figures, or analyses by product groups or sales territories.
SAP KM also includes Repository Managers, which make content available from a wide variety content servers, for example http-based web content, WebDAV-enabled content servers (WebDAV = Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning), Lotus Domino 5.x servers, and a broad range of SAP solutions such as cFolders and cProjects.

Distributing information

One of the tasks of Information Broadcasting is to distribute information or make it accessible to certain recipients, enabling a wide range of users to access reporting and analysis functionality. Even casual users without prior knowledge of KM or BI technologies are now able to use the services independently. If a user wants to make certain content available to a group, he or she calls up Information Broadcasting using the “Distribute” function and decides whether the recipient should be informed directly by email or via SAP NetWeaver Portal.
As SAP NetWeaver Portal generally contains a large amount of very different information, the new content must be logically inserted in the content structure. The software regards the broadcast content as a SAP KM “document”. From a functional perspective, the broadcast content can be stored in one of three ways. One of these is “My Portfolio,” which is available to registered users as a private content storage area. “CM Repository View” is the area in which content can be accessed by employees with appropriate authorizations. The content available here is stored clearly in file structures. Third, there are “collaboration rooms,” which provide a variety of additional, team-oriented functions for document handling.

Scheduling Options
Scheduling Options

Information Broadcasting makes it possible to plan in advance how to make content available. Once a folder has been selected, the broadcast can be scheduled for automatic execution against the InfoProvider. Through the use of the functionality “Process Chains”, content can also be distributed automatically if data is changed in the InfoProvider.

Layout templates
Layout templates

One advantage of the functionality as a whole is that it can be personalized to a high degree. The portal administrator is able to define the guidelines and scope of personalization. The configurable user interface (SAP KM Flex UI) can be used centrally to allow or deny access to certain content. Roles with specific access rights can be configured for particular areas of responsibility and tasks, and a selection of different layouts can be offered for the display of the documents.

Room for collaboration

Collaboration Rooms allow enterprises to use SAP NetWeaver Portal as a central point of access for process-controlled or non-structured group work. They are able to receive content from both Information Broadcasting and BEx analysis tools from SAP NetWeaver BI. Collaboration Rooms extend knowledge management services by providing:

  • Asynchronous collaboration capabilities such as task management, discussions and threading, document feedback, and instant polling
  • Groupware integration of existing calendaring and scheduling applications
  • Functions for synchronous collaboration in real time, for example instant messaging and application sharing, using solutions like Webex or NetMeeting
  • Template-based room deployment for a consistent look and feel
  • Incorporation of templates that enable the general functionality across all rooms to be kept consistent. The preconfigured elements help enterprises set up Collaboration Rooms in a short space of time
Collaboration Room
Collaboration Room

Thanks to the integration of SAP NetWeaver BI, analysis functions or KPI-based data can be added to a Collaboration Room. For example, data on products, suppliers, and competitors could be made available in a Collaboration Room for a marketing event or sales seminar. SAP NetWeaver BI content can then be posted to the room together with various KPI-related data for the event. Combined with the native functionality of Collaboration Rooms, SAP BI and SAP KM provide a comprehensive solution for providing groups of employees with the information they need at the touch of a button.
The new Information Broadcasting and Collaboration Rooms tools help SAP NetWeaver `04 to use the functionalities of SAP KM and SAP NetWeaver BI with ease. Fast and simple access to enterprise-critical information benefits knowledge workers and thereby ultimately increases an enterprise’s productivity.
More information on SAP NetWeaver BI and SAP KM.

Glen Leslie
Glen Leslie