The social adoption and ROI discussions are getting louder as more and more enterprises implement social collaboration solutions and struggle to find success. Adoption and ROI are difficult areas to define, measure and implement. The Altimeter Group released a report on The Evolution of Social Business detailing how organizations that have implemented social have created technology silos and lack clear focus or strategy in how it should be deployed across the enterprise.
As social has become mainstream over the past few years, we have seen major software vendors across vertical markets and solution types integrate social into the fabric of their core products. Dion Hinchcliffe highlighted this trend in 2011 in his blog post “Putting Social to Work,” where he described the integration of social with ERP suites like Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, Microsoft and SAP.
I recently spoke with SAP's Social Software Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager, Sameer Patel about social adoption and ROI. We discussed how SAP views these issues and how it developed the SAP Jam platform to address them. Its an interesting approach that's worth exploring in more depth.
SAP Gets Social
SAP introduced its first collaboration solution, SAP StreamWork, in the spring of 2010. The following year it purchased a Human Capital Management software provider, SuccessFactors. SAP began working with the SuccessFactors Jam social product they acquired as part of the sale. In 2012, SAP introduced a new platform called SAP Jam that incorporated some elements of SuccessFactors Jam and SAP StreamWork, with business process integration capabilities and structured collaboration.
Sameer Patel’s Journey to SAP
Sameer Patel joined SAP in early 2012, but he is no stranger to social business and what it means to the enterprise. Patel wrote a well-respected web blog called Pretzel Logic and was a longtime partner with the Sovos Group, which focused on social business and enterprise social collaboration. Prior to the Sovos Group, Patel was the Managing Partner at SpanTechnologies, a collaboration consulting organization.
The social world was rocked when SAP announced that Patel was joining the company. The industry realized that this signaled SAP was serious about social in the enterprise and it was committed to integrating this disruptive technology into the SAP product stack.
SAP’s View of Adoption and ROI
Patel feels that the adoption and ROI discussion has taken a difficult turn with the maturation of social in the enterprise. The metrics people use to understand how they are doing with social focus on the tactical side of the equation. This shift moves us away from the business objectives executives seek for social.
We have created technology silos where social collaboration happens instead of weaving social into the fabric of business process. The major reason for this is the emphasis on the tactical side instead of focussing on strategic objectives across or within the organizational levels of the enterprise. SAP's approach puts the focus on solving real business problems and integrating social into business processes -- addressing the adoption and ROI questions as a result. Users will adopt a solution that solves a business problem and the ROI is evident based on the improvement realized by the implementation.
Look at it this way … What keeps a VP of Sales for a Fortune 100 company up at night? He has a significant revenue target to hit on a quarterly basis but it isn’t functionality of CRM that keeps him awake. It’s the fact that he has to hire and train 40 new Sales Reps to make his quarterly number. He loses sleep over how he is going to onboard and train these 40 new people each quarter. How is he going to connect his best Sales Reps with the new team members? How will he retain these resources that are difficult to find, hire, train and keep them engaged? Similar challenges exist across every line of business through to the supply chain.
Say you’re a technology professional and you walked into the VP of Sales’ office to tell him how social collaboration can help solve his onboarding and training issues. You know it can help. You’ve seen it work in other areas of the enterprise. If you started off the discussion with how you’re going to reduce email with social networking and blogging, you’re going to get kicked out of his office in two minutes. He will stop you mid-sentence and throw you out.