SAP launches StreamWork enterprise edition

SAP has launched an enterprise edition of StreamWork that’s integrated with its product lifecycle management business suite application, and will soon integrate it with its CRM and BusinessObjects Strategy Management applications.

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SAP is launching an enterprise version of StreamWork that has been preconfigured with its Product Lifecycle Management business (PLM) suite, and will soon integrate it with its CRM and BusinessObjects Strategy Management applications. StreamWork will be coupled with other applications in the future, according to the company.

StreamWork will also now be available through the Google marketplace because of a partnership with that company. Users will be able to log in to StreamWork with their Google IDs. The application will also soon be available on BlackBerry devices.

StreamWork, which debuted this March in beta form, allows people to do things like share documents, instant message or create SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) matrixes, and prioritize items within the application in an effort to collectively come to a decision. Afterward, users can go back and review those records to audit how or why a certain decision was made. The application helps users make better decisions then and in the future, according to SAP.   

With the new enterprise edition, the data and the server reside on-premise, although the application can be accessed via the Internet.  That on-premises server also hosts the application’s enterprise agent, which governs the application’s security provisions that control who’s allowed into StreamWork, and what they’re allowed to see once they’re there, according to SAP.

Given that it’s tightly integrated with SAP’s business intelligence (BI) features, StreamWork could help organizations make better decisions beyond the benefit of analytical tools, according to Rita Sallam, an analyst with Gartner, Inc.

“Right now, with BI, we do a great job of pulling together the right information, organizing it for analysis, delivering information, often leading to the right decision,” she said.  “But BI doesn’t really extend beyond that to capture the rest of the decision process. Threads that you can actually go back and say, ‘who knew what, when, where and how’ and ‘what were the factors that had the biggest impact on the success or failure of that decision,’ and ‘can we glean anything from that so that we can act more quickly next time?’”

“I think that’s where StreamWork really comes in,” she said.  

Collaborative decision making (CDM) applications like StreamWork are becoming more popular, she said.  “I’m not sure it’s a full market yet,” she said, “But it is an emerging market need.” The application could eventually grow into a full CDM platform, she added.

But one of the challenges with the new application has less to do with the technology and more to do with getting people to use the application, Sallam said. Cultural resistance and change management will ultimately be the biggest challenge to adoption, she said.

“The question I have is whether the culture of organizations is ready for this type of solution and the nontechnical kinds of things that will be required,” she said.

Those risks have been minimalized due to StreamWork’s focus on “ease of use” issues, according to Holly Simmons, SAP’s senior director of product marketing for on-demand applications.

A user can set up an account and begin to use it immediately, she said, and SAP spent a great deal of time and effort to make the interface as straightforward and intuitive as possible, and to allow integration with existing applications. 

“Nobody’s going to use it,” she said, “unless it’s as easy as can be.”

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