Filling the Unstructured Gaps

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Photo: private Social media is new, hip and fun – not necessarily attributes associated with SAP. How do you reconcile the SAP legacy with the company’s focus on social today?

In fact, SAP is uniquely qualified to bring social into the enterprise. Social hasn’t received the same executive backing or business adoption as traditional applications like CRM or supply chain because businesses haven’t seen the value. People in sales, HR, finance and the executive suite aren’t interested in becoming a social enterprise. They want to know ‘how can I apply the elements of social to meet my performance objectives?’ SAP has the deep domain and business industry process knowledge to understand how social can be applied to core business problems.

Posting on Facebook is very different from incorporating social solutions into business processes. How can companies avoid program failure?

The Facebook concept works in the public forum because there is intent behind each post. In the business world you need intent, but it comes from business process applications, data and analytics, content and documents, and connecting people. Social has to be considered a means to a defined, productive business end. Social has to show up when and where I need it most. It has to make a difference. It can’t be in silos, and has to be seamless across all applications. That’s what makes social relevant to the core business problems the company is trying to solve.

What departments are using social media solution the most?

Today it’s primarily in customer interaction and basic employee social networking. But done right, it goes across the organization including employee communications, talent performance such as onboarding and learning, and collaborative processes even in finance and product development. The goal is to make this valuable not by making everyone social, but by making them better at what they do. For example, SAP’s social solutions are built from the ground up to seamlessly integrate on the same platform with each application. Someone who’s invested in SAP can easily go social whether they’re running our applications on-premise, in the cloud, or as a hybrid model.

Next page: What do SAP’s social solutions allow businesses to do?

What do SAP’s social solutions allow businesses to do that they couldn’t do before?

Currently, we’ve integrated SAP Jam, our secure, collaborative platform, into our applications, concentrating on areas where collaboration can add value. These include CRM on-premise and on-demand, talent management, and finance on-demand. Let me give you some examples.

A salesperson lands a huge opportunity. Because we’ve integrated SAP Jam right into our CRM application he can instantly find the right people to get the information he needs and close the deal.

  • Employees in call centers often receive customer questions that aren’t in their knowledge base. SAP Jam provides instant access to find experts with the right answers – increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Finance consists of highly collaborative, cross-functional processes from daily invoicing to budgeting. Integrating SAP Jam into our financial application, allows CFOs to collaborate easily with sales, inventory, and demand generation for better, faster decision-making, compliance, and improved productivity.
  • Peer to peer collaboration is a huge part of learning – that’s where social comes in. One of our Learning Management customers has a network of 3,500 nurses who have to wear gloves in a certain way. Instructions like this can be hard to describe, but with our social module nurses can use their smartphones to share a video of someone putting on the glove. Trainees can see what they need to do instantly. This is not about social, it’s about better education. In the third quarter of 2012 alone, we sold 2 million paid seats for our learning solution. When you infuse SAP’s collaborative fabric across core processes that are powered by our individual cloud and on premise applications, third party applications, or across the SAP Business Suite, siloed collaboration becomes smart, in the context of work you are doing, and available at the point of action and decision-making.

What lessons learned can you share?

Customers aren’t looking for social. They want software that caters to their business and drives execution. We’ve put transactional systems in place to meet compliance, budget and other operational demands. Now customers are trying to make daily life more effective for every employee. Social fills in the unstructured gaps. SAP HANA brings unparalleled levels of speed of execution and performance to our customers. SAP Jam adds a layer of performance acceleration software for our customers without disrupting their existing investment.

What’s on the horizon for social media in 2013? 

Customer acceptance of our social solutions has been phenomenal and we are grateful to customers for that. Using SAP’s deep industry and process knowledge from the past 40 years and a strong customer co-innovation council, we will roll out more capabilities to help customers become more efficient with social and transform their businesses.