Salesforce.com, Jive Software and other companies offering social software to enterprises are taking the wrong approach, said several SAP executives on a call introducing Jam, the German company's own entry into the social enterprise market.
Jonathan Becher, SAP's chief marketing officer, said that while most vendors look at a social technology like microblogging and consider how it can be used in a business context, SAP instead asked the question "What are my customers' business objectives and how can we use social to help attain them?"
The resulting Jam product marries enterprise social networking with structured collaboration and business process integration, said Lars Dalgaard, a member of SAP's Executive Board and the founder and former CEO of SuccessFactors, the company SAP bought last December to strengthen its position in the human capital management (HCM) market.
Jam, which is available now, was built using the social networking and document sharing technologies SAP gained in the SuccessFactors acquisition, along with features from the StreamWork collaboration platform SAP introduced in 2010. While SAP had touted StreamWork's collaboration capabilities and integration with business applications all along, early reviews indicated it could use a more intuitive user interface. As seen in several online demonstrations during the call, SAP has simplified the interface and made it similar to consumer products like Facebook.
Process Integration Sweetens Jam
Jam is already integrated with several on-premise and cloud SAP applications: the SuccessFactors BizX HCM suite, the on-premise SAP CRM application, and the cloud-based Financials OnDemand and Sales OnDemand solutions. While SAP hopes customers will want the tight integration between Jam and its own software, it will also offer APIs for Jam so they can also use it with third-party apps.
Though social technologies have been wildly popular among consumers, they have struggled to win broad acceptance from business users. SAP's approach with Jam should boost enterprise adoption of social, said Sameer Patel, global vice president and general manager, social software solutions. SAP's legwork of mapping out common business processes to determine how best to integrate Jam into its apps will pay off, he said.
"When a CRM opportunity lands in the system, for example, we found companies get on a call in a conference room and find the best four people to bring in. We've tried to emulate that in the digital environment. There is nothing in here that brings in any foreign processes," Patel said.
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today. Follow Enterprise Apps Today on Twitter @EntApps2Day.