Are you of the opinion that Social networking within Enterprise is a huge waste of time?. Even I thought so until I heard about SAP's new offering 'StreamWork'.
I have been a member of LinkedIn for long and member of several Enterprise Architecture and Technology Groups within the site. I have had the opportunity to connect with some great individuals in the Architecture/Technology Space. However, I should admit that most of the groups are inactive or the discussions are very shallow, fighting over the semantics of the actual thread itself. I had initiated few conversations in those groups last year and contributed to many. But, generally the activity was lacklustre. I have not personally experienced any Collective Consciousness or Collective Intelligence in those networking sites!. May be I am not a network freak!. :-)
Having said that, I felt there must be a genuine issue when I heard similar opinions from my fellow colleagues/users of such networking sites.
It looks like SAP has figured out a solution. They have come up with a new offering for Enterprise Social Networking called 'StreamWork'. It is a Web based application offered as a Service to end users. People can signup to the basic version for free and start inviting friends into the network. Ok, How does this new solution brings novelty?. As an SAP executive rightly puts it, most of these enterprise networking conversations are screaming for context. Yes, Screaming! :-). And in the social setup (like LinkedIn/Facebook), the context setting and moderation becomes an issue as everybody screams and it takes significant amount of time for an accepted protocol to emerge from conversations from unknown people.
In the new solution, SAP takes collaboration to the next level which is Decision Making. I signed up for the free service today and played around with the options. In addition to all the basic networking features like profile, following others, etc, One can create 'Activities' and invite relevant people into the activities for collectively making some decisions. And once they have decided, they can lock the conversations, close the decision and archive the entire conversations for later perusal. In the corporate world, BlackBerry device has become extremely important purely because of the fact that 'Email' is being used as the conversation and collective decision making tool. Isn't it?. But, Truly speaking, Email was not designed or meant to be a collective decision making tool. And that was exactly solved by StreamWork.
Above all, SAP scores by providing activity templates for structuring the conversations. One can create as many activities as required. And the solution also has typical bells and whistles - conenctivity to blackberry, integration with enterprise security, connectivity to other feeds, integration with BO/SAP/Enterprise Systems. Now, that sounds really enterprisy!. And innovative!.
Am not sure whether StreamWork is available as an installable format so that someone can have it in their private cloud. If that is possible, nothing like it!. Am sure most of the SAP customers would love to embrace it in 2011!.
For other non-SAP customers, the brand 'SAP' may not strike the right chord with this truly innovative small new piece of solution!. We need to wait and watch the developments!.