It is a natural imperative for many managers and IT decision-makers to optimize their business processes in such a way that they provide an effective working environment. Currently, and with an eye to the challenges that lie ahead for the business community, Enterprise 2.0 concepts are becoming increasingly relevant. Customer-focused business areas, such as sales and marketing, have acted as key “innovation drivers” for these concepts. Collaboration across the business, better communication within and between teams, and greater employee efficiency are of fundamental importance.
For this reason, a large number of enterprises are now deploying collaboration software, which is closely related to Enterprise 2.0, and fueling a new boom in the relevant concepts.
The e-mail paradox
Because e-mail is still the main means of exchanging information, companies and their employees invest immense amounts of time and resources in dealing with the workload that arises from an ever-swelling flood of information. Thus, paradoxically, the intensive use of e-mail to exchange information can have a negative impact on employee productivity.
The evolution of social technologies
In recent years, the rapid growth and adoption of social technologies on the consumer side have heightened the pressure on the business world to innovate. Countless companies have invested in social technologies in the hope of taming the e-mail chaos. The trend toward reducing the volume of e-mail traffic in companies is gaining in popularity and has generated a host of different ideas and projects.
One example is the professional services company Atos. The value of social networks for companies does not, however, lie in their ability to make e-mails, intranets, and business applications redundant – such approaches do not go far enough. But the problem with collaborative technologies is that many of the social tools are not linked to conventional transaction or CRM systems, which can result in information silos.
Conventional enterprise systems are ideal for defined processes, because they are tailored to the needs of the user group that is responsible for the process concerned. But they cannot meet the requirements of a much larger group of people who either influence the process or are affected by it. This is where business applications frequently reach their limits. The question is, how can you support the informal and social activities that form a major portion of business events?
Social solutions that are not linked to the process level function, at best, as nothing more than a means of communication and an Outlook substitute – rather than assisting people with their business activities and paving the way for successful collaboration. Thus, a new generation of technologies is emerging that make it possible to re-integrate isolated communication and collaboration processes into the actual business process. As the market leader in business applications, SAP’s goal is to provide enterprise social software that gives companies crucial competitive edge in the way they collaborate.
Enter SAP Jam, social software
SAP Jam social software addresses the wish expressed by many organizations for technologies that are closely aligned to the way people work – wherever they work (on mobile devices, in the social solution, or in the corresponding business applications). Companies want these technologies to optimize employee productivity and business results by enabling better collaboration. SAP Jam delivers on this vision, because it is integrated with transactional SAP systems and is therefore part of a company’s business-critical processes – allowing people to work together more closely and more productively.
The following CRM scenario demonstrates how a marketing manager could use social collaboration software to streamline the many different processes – from development to analysis – in a marketing campaign:
Imagine a typical marketing campaign in which a marketing manager works on a product campaign with the marketing team, stakeholders, and an external marketing agency.
In this particular scenario, employee productivity is at risk: Only a small number of the process activities is recorded in the CRM system; the bulk of communication happens outside of the CRM application via channels that are isolated from the business process.
Next page: More than just an “Outlook substitute”
Because the steps within the process are isolated from each other, individual knowledge and a context for the various actions and discussions relating to the business process are crucial to the success of the campaign. But these aspects are not recorded in any system. Think of all the information that could contribute to the success or failure of the project. Yet it is either completely absent from the systems used for the process, or – at best – very hard to find. And then there are the questions that need to be answered during the process:
- Who needs to be involved in campaign planning?
- Who has the subject-matter expertise I need? Who only needs to be informed?
- Who can I ask for advice? Which external agency is the most suitable?
- Where can I find the minutes of the last meeting?
The list is endless. And this is where social software comes in, because its intelligent functions have the potential to create enormous added value for enterprises.
Integration with business applications is key
SAP Jam brings order to the chaos that arises when you bring together people from within and outside of the company to work on collaborative tasks – which is, after all, the way that most CRM processes work. SAP Jam makes it easy for business people within the company and across the entire customer and partner network to engage with each other. The social solution lets you exchange information and video messages with the team so that everyone involved is always on the same page, and the software provides decision-making tools that bring structure to social activities.
Crucially, thanks to its integration with business applications, SAP Jam enables collaboration to take place wherever people work and puts an end to interruptions in the process. Unlike conventional collaboration environments, SAP Jam provides a comprehensive context for the affected business process. This means that contacts from the corresponding CRM activity automatically receive invitations, and attachments for the corresponding group are taken directly from the CRM system. In this way, you ease the workload for everyone involved and create a better understanding of collaboration.
Social collaboration technologies are opening up new opportunities for promoting collaborative working techniques – for both customer-related processes and a company’s internal processes.