There’s increasing awareness that collaboration with customers, partners, and other experts is essential in order to build the right products in the future. To do this, SAP has built a community ecosystem for innovation. In addition to the community sites for individuals to share information about industry expertise, business processes, SAP development, and SAP BusinessObjects, there are two technology lab organizations dedicated to getting input from the community around new SAP products and directions: the SAP BusinessObjects Labs, and the SAP Co-Innovation Labs.
SAP BusinessObjects Innovation Center
The SAP BusinessObjects Innovation Center, modeled after the Google Labs, showcases new software prototypes based on concepts and ideas from customers, partners, and internal teams. Anybody is free to download and try them, but they are not supported for production environments. Feedback is encouraged, and used to improve the products and decide which are commercialized. Lab “graduates” that have been commercialized include Mobile BI, Information on Demand, Polestar, and BI Widgets. In addition, the Lab works with academics in both US and Europe to constantly push forward the limits of productive information use.
The Innovation Center is not only about taking a Web 2.0 approach to innovation — many of the prototypes themselves have a distinctly Web 2.0 flavor. I have listed several of the most exciting projects below.
The Xcelsius Web 2.0 add-ons allow Xcelsius users to incorporate tag clouds and interactive relationship charts into dashboards (these are working Xcelsius models – move the slider, or click on the members of the network).
Polestar in the cloud is a hosted version of the commercially-available SAP BusinessObjects Polestar product that lets you try out the intuitive Polestar interface with your own Excel spreadsheets. Simply upload a simple Excel file with a header row and columns of data and then start slicing and dice information.
Comment it lets users of the SAP BusinessObjects intelligence platform comment on reports, adding them to a new transparent layer — users can not only share reporting and analytic information but also their feedback and discussions.
Catalog Browser for the iPhone lets you remotely access your favorite BusinessObjects content from the Apple iPhone. You can easily browse, search and display the Crystal Reports, Web Intelligence and Desktop Intelligence documents, and maintain a list of favorite documents.
The Text to Query prototype appears to perform magic, using the information already stored in BusinessObjects metadata. As you create a PowerPoint presentation or email, Text to Query can examine the text, spot keywords, and automatically offer chart suggestions (containing real enterprise data) that can augment. As you write about the revenue rising in a particular region, the prototype automatically brings up the revenue chart for that area.
The BISense prototype is similar – it makes it easy to integrate relevant BI content automatically into web pages. So if you have an internal web site where information is organized by product, for example, you can have a list of relevant reports display automatically for each product.
The Content Rating prototype lets people rate and share their opinions on published BI content in a collaborative manner, and can be used to “validate” reports as they go into production use.
Data Feed as a Universe lets users of SAP BusinessObjects WebIntelligence combine any information from RSS feeds and Web Services with corporate data from your operational systems and data warehouses (as well as CSV and Excel files).
Business Objects Masher lets developers create “templates” that can be used to create enterprise mashups that combine corporate data with web application resources like Yahoo! Maps, Google Maps or other types of visualization.
Other links for the BusinessObjects Innovation Center
- Subscribe to Business Objects Labs RSS feed
- Give feedback to the labs team
- View a presentation about the labs
- Presentation download
SAP Co-Innovation Lab
In June 2007, SAP launched the Co-Innovation Lab in Palo Alto, California, in order to foster greater collaborative innovation with customers and partners.
The lab features a simulated, heterogeneous data center, with hardware and infrastructure software from different vendors, including HP, Cisco, Intel, VMware, and Citrix. The lab provides a testing ground for new business solutions and technologies — lab members can quickly configure the data center in any number of ways in order to accurately replicate real-world challenges.
The lab provides a place for cooperation between different partners, along with SAP subject-matter expertise, training rooms, briefing center, and innovation documentation created with ecosystem partners and customers. In particular, the labs have collected and shared expertise on the virtualization of SAP installations – an important step in the cloud-hosted future.
Like most communities in the SAP ecosystem, the lab makes extensive use of virtual collaboration, leveraging Web 2.0 tools like Wikis, blogs, team spaces, and Webinars. For example, as part of the labs initiative, a Community Advisory Group was created with the charter to “Enable customers to embrace enterprise SOA while honoring their existing SOA investments and create a mutual understanding of Partners and SAPs approach to SOA”