SAP’s Sapphire conference has kicked off in Orlando. The company, which has been experiencing some aging pains, is using the gathering as an opportunity to reposition the company as “a platform destination for partnering and collaborating,” according co-CEO Bill McDermott in his closing keynote at the end of day one. Although the keynote, which included three other executives, a speech, an interview and roundtable discussion, was entertaining, it might not be enough to propel growth. However, some of the new tools coming out of the software might.
Frictionless Enterprise Social
Let’s be honest, when someone says enterprise social, SAP is not the first company you think of. However, that could be changing. Sameer Patel, Global VP and General Manager, Enterprise Social and Collaborative Software, explained that although it has been six years since enterprise 2.0 emerged, most companies are still struggling to with adoption. Companies like Jive, Telligent and Yammer have popular products, and SAP hasn’t been aggressive in positioning its StreamWork as a direct competitor in the space. SAP even uses Jive to power its public facing community website, but SAP has something that many other players in the enterprise social space do not – an enormous ecosystem of enterprise products.
SAP can (and has already started) to integrate its social offerings with its enterprise tools. Integrating with enterprise applications means the need for users to access two separate tools to engage in social collaboration would be eliminated. The integration could improve adoption and streamline business processes. SAP also introduced a new social collaboration tool in a first day keyonte, SuccessFactors Jam, one of the first outputs of SAP’s $3.4 billion dollar acquisition of SuccessFactors finalized in February. Jam was originally a focused on online training, but it seems that SAP will be positioning a general-purpose collaboration tool for cloud platforms. SAP may not lead the market for enterprise social now, but long term the company’s strategy to make enterprise social just another feature of enterprise applications could attract significant market support.
SAP Further Embraces the Cloud
In addition to its focus on social, SAP seems to finally be embracing the cloud. The company announced a new cloud strategy powered by its SuccessFactors acquisition. SAP is combining its ability to create large enterprise applications with the ready-to-use quality enabled by software-as-a-service. How committed is the company to its new strategy that has been dubbed People, Money, Customers and Suppliers? SAP has committed 5,000 resources to designing, building and delivering cloud solutons.
Embracing the cloud is a smart move, but it won’t be simple for SAP. The company will have to keep its existing, somewhat conservative customer base happy while simultaneously appealing to an entirely new target audience that expects simple, collaborative, cutting-edge applications. In addition, larger enterprises will want to operate in a hybrid environment and not completely replace existing enterprise software, unlike small and medium businesses (SMBs). SAP will need to support both use cases.
SAPs continued effort to expand its reach beyond enterprise resource planning software to social, cloud, mobile and data is the right thing to do. The market for cloud-based, on-demand software is growing five times faster than the demand for traditional on premises solutions according to IDC. Mobile device use is exploding in the enterprise. The potential for growth is promising, but SAP will have continued struggles with its goals. This is the third year the company has highlighted to topics at Sapphire. The previous instances didn’t result in explosive adoption. Perhaps the third time will be a charm.