SAP is widely unveiling its new social collaboration strategy, dubbed “Project Robus,” at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston this week. Although SAP did discuss Project Robus at its recent Sapphire user conference, Enterprise 2.0 marks the first time the enterprise software vendor has presented the strategy to a general audience.

Enterprise Collaboration, Take Two

According to Sameer Patel, Global VP and GM, Social Software of SAP, social collaboration in the enterprise is moving beyond its first iteration. “Social collaboration started out as Facebook for the enterprise,” Patel said during an interview with CMSWire at Enterprise 2.0. “However, it was not adopted as naturally as Facebook and Twitter were in the consumer world.”

Patel said part of the reason for the slower-than-expected adoption of enterprise social collaboration has been that the original model did not include important elements of modern workflow, such as data exceptions, business processes, content and documents.

“Project Robus combines workflow with people, data, content and process,” Patel said. “It conforms to how you work, rather than trying to change it.”

As an example, Patel said that a typical sales rep “does not live in the CRM system as much as we’d like to think.” Instead, sales reps have an “unstructured” work life that includes a large portion of time spent using applications such as order-to-cash and email. “The value of social collaboration is the ability to accelerate the performance of what someone sets out to do, rather than change their behavior,” he said.

Streamlining Workflows

Leveraging solutions such as SAP Workflow, Project Robus allows social collaboration users to have access to the same workstream regardless of what application they are using, with consistent data versioning and communications. In addition, Patel said users have the ability to initiate collaboration.

“A lot of standard social networking products have APIs,” he said. “But SAP has the right pieces to come at social collaboration in a way that the buyers understand how it impacts their business. Not at the IT level, but at the business driver level.”

For example, Patel said a customer support manager could use SAP social collaboration tools to determine turnaround times. He also gave the example of an “indirect learning” tool that currently has 1 million users, which sits alongside the traditional SAP learning management solution and links users to sources of “unofficial learning,” such as information from their peers and data that has built up during years of prior employee collaboration.

Project Robus includes standard SAP modules as well as fully integrated solutions from SAP’s acquisition of Success Factors.