Introducing SAP StreamWork: New Decision Collaboration

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It’s now official: SAP has released its brand-new Web 2.0 product called StreamWork. The project was initially called “Constellation” within SAP, and was first exposed to beta customers on the web site 12sprints.com, as covered in earlier postings on this site.

Why the name? It’s a variant on “workstream”, which according to Wikipedia is:

“A flow of output, the activities and transactions, that a worker produces as they go about their daily work activities. Workstreams are flows of largely unstructured data that workstreaming technologies seek to capture, document and repackage in more intelligent ways benefiting individual workers, managers and corporations.”

And the article goes on to say:

“…tapping into and mining these workstreams presents tremendous opportunities to companies in terms of collaboration, agility and collective intelligence.”

Other research seems to back this up. According to a study by Frost & Sullivan, 36% of company performance is determined by organizations’ “collaborative index”:

“This is more than twice the impact of a company’s strategic orientation (16%) and more than five times the impact of market and technological turbulence influences (7%). This is a key finding because it empirically demonstrates that increased high-quality collaboration can improve business performance.“

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The Power of Collaborative Decisions

Every person in every organization makes many decisions every day. Many of these are so small that we don’t even recognize them as decisions. Every time a sales person calls a customer, she is “deciding” to prioritizing that activity over everything else she could be doing. Of course, a sub-optimal decision may not make much difference. But over time, and across a large organization, these small decisions pile up and have a huge influence to corporate performance.

Of course, computer systems have been promising Improved business decision-making since at least the 1950s, by providing more information about company operations. And they have largely delivered, enabling corporations of breath-taking complexity. But you can give everybody the same facts, and still end up with completely different views about what the data means, and what should be done about it (just look at any group of rival politicians!).

Decision-making is a core business function of every organization, and has been extensively studied by scientists and management theorists. But despite all the advances in theory, real-life decision-making is still dominated by people, personalities, and endless emails and meetings.

Decisions still tend to be made in messy, non-repeatable, “are-we-really-sure-about-this?” ways, relying heavily on “gut feel”. People often spend more time and effort making decisions as they do on actually trying to execute them, and reviewing / reversing decisions that have already been made (every new politician and executive feels honor-bound to reverse the decisions of their predecessors).

Collaboration or “Enterprise 2.0” platforms, including Jive and Cubetree and Google Wave have helped, by letting employees work together on projects, but they typically don’t directly support goal-oriented decision-making.

Introducing SAP StreamWork

StreamWork helps you bring together:

  • All the right people needed to make a good decision (executives, influencers, experts), across different corporate functions and geographies
  • All the information relevant to the decision, from inside or outside the organization, both qualitative and quantitative, objective and subjective (and reformat it, if necessary). Integration with Evernote and Scribd makes it easy to upload and share documents.
  • All the right methods that should be brought to bear in order to consider all the aspects of the decision (cost/benefit analysis, SWOT analysis, Pro/Con charts, responsibility matrices, etc.)

See this link for a summary of StreamWork features and view the StreamWork YouTube Channel for an extensive set of how-to videos.

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By putting all this in one environment, and letting people collaborate and comment and add data and add documents, and explain their reasoning, organizations get:

  • More clarity about why decisions are being made
  • More engagement from employees, who can see a direct link between their suggestions and the final result
  • More commitment to decisions (research shows that we care more about fair process than we do with final decisions. If we feel our voice has been heard, we’re far more likely to comply with the final choice, even if we didn’t agree with it)
  • Better results. Measurement and tracking of the decision-making process, allowing you to optimize the process over time (faster decision cycles, better outcomes)

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On-Demand, Extensible Architecture

StreamWork uses an on-demand architecture, so you can be productive immediately without any software installs, and you can easily invite people from inside or outside the organization without having to worry about access problems. And it provides an open REST API, making it easy to extend StreamWork functionality and integrate with other systems.

Here’s a look at some of the add-ons that have already been built, including integration with InfoView, Text-to-query, Android, YouTube, and others.

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Here’s a great example of the integration possibilities from OffiSync:

And SAP is busy integrating other prototypes such as Gravity, covered in an earlier post, with StreamWork.

Pricing

The basic edition is free, with up to five activities, 250Mb of storage, and the unlimited ability to collaborate in others’ activities. The Professional Edition costs $9/month for up to 100 activities, 5Gb of storage, and more control over user security. An Enterprise Edition is in the works, with more details to be announced later this year.

Sign up Now!

Signing up for StreamWork is easy and free — click here.

Other Coverage and Links

Related posts:

13 Comments
  1. I’ve been looking at Streamwork, and it seems really powerful (puts SharePoint in the dust, which I know isn’t the point, but still), my only problem is that there is so much going on. How do I cut through all of it and ignore what I have already looked at, see relevant updates, etc. I know there is the daily email notification, but I’d really like a “this is what is new that you need to look at”, almost like an RSS just for managing your activities. Am I missing something?

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  4. Timo

    the demo today n Oslo was very nice. I could see great advantages of why any give business could use such technology however I have not yet gotten a sense of what it takes to implement such tool if you have already a full integrated SAP ERP system

    regards

    Laurent

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