Social Networking @ SAP

In 2007, SAP announced at the Sapphire event that it was getting serious about Web 2.0 within SAP, using new technologies to help “shift from a top-down, technically rigid structure to a more fluid, informal way of thinking with a certain trust in that people can find workable solutions to their problems.”

Attendees were impressed. For example, Jerry Bowles noted a blog post called SAP to Enterprise 2.0 Community: We Get It:

“Having spent a lot of time talking with a number of SAP executives at SAPPHIRE in Atlanta earlier this week, I’m delighted to report that SAP is one of those forward-looking giants that get it.  Big time.”

Shortly after Sapphire, Steve Mann, who leads Social Media Strategy for SAP, posted a document on his AbleBrains blog authored by the Social Media Today: “SAP: A Company Transforms Itself Through Social Media”, which outlined the success of SAP’s community efforts such as SDN and BPX.

Everybody in Harmony

One of the first initiatives was a self-developed internal service called “Harmony”. Designed as a “Facebook for the Enterprise”, it has been running as a pilot since April 2007. It includes user profiles and skill sets, and lets users build ad-hoc groups with discussion forums. It has more than accomplished its goals of bringing people together around a number of topics, both personal and professional.


Preparing for the Future with a Unified Approach

Harmony has been very successful, with over 7,000 members. But there are also other Web 2.0 platforms internally, such as wikis on the corporate internal portal using Confluence software. In addition, SAP has a strong partnership with Adobe and provides Adobe Connect collaboration rooms for employees. In order to be sure of getting the right platform for the future, and taking into account the explosion of enterprise social networking vendors in recent years, SAP decided to implement a formal process for choosing a unified approach for the company.

A series of internal surveys and meetings were used to create a request for proposal (RFP) to the major software vendors in the space. This was then topped up with Twitter announcements that generated another 11 other submissions. image image

If you’re a vendor, and haven’t already submitted, I’m afraid it’s too late. As soon as we have more public news of what platform has been chosen (and Harmony is still one of the options), I’ll let you know…





4 responses to “Social Networking @ SAP”

  1. Dan Pontefract Avatar

    So? (sorry – typed too fast on last one)

    1. Timo Elliott Avatar

      Things went a little more slowly than planned… looks like it might have to wait until the start of the new year…

  2. Dan Pontefract Avatar
    Dan Pontefract

    Hey Timo, long time no chat.

    It would be interesting to know the results of the platform choice. I wonder why it wouldn’t be Harmony after all of the development costs that have been previously invested?

    I also think that SAP could utilize some thought leadership around the LMS module of the ERP itself. For SAP to really show some Work/Enterprise 2.0 thinking, the Harmony idea needs to include both formal and informal learning concepts. SAP needs to combine the elements of social networking with social learning, such that you can friend, follow, link and access your subject matter experts and colleagues … in addition to … having the ability to formally register into a ‘course’ … as well as … being able to submit your own learning expertise content via social means.

    The training organization is dead.

    The working organization is alive. (check out a small example at Sun – of a way in which content is being shared, ranked, rated, discussed, etc. — this should be part of SAP’s social learning / social networking strategy)

    SAP has a job to do and align the enterprise/work 2.0 concepts I speak of with the next-generation ERP, with that of the archaic LMS module.

    Failing to do so will result in many customers leaving the LMS module of SAP in the dust, and embarking on implementation of social applications that include the points I mentioned above. So many customers would easily implement a social learning/networking module due to the other modules already in existence at an organization.

    If you ever make it back to Vancouver, let me know.


    1. Timo Elliott Avatar

      Thanks for the comments — and yes, I’ll write about the choice as soon as I’m allowed to… 🙂