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How SAP is handling the social media explosion

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SAP StreamWork now supports open programming standard OpenSocial

SAP now supports the open programming standard OpenSocial, in a move intended to further develop the fledgling application and make it more attractive for business users.

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How SAP is handling the social media explosion

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SAP’s StreamWork now supports the open programming standard OpenSocial, a move intended to make it easier for other companies to create applications for the collaborative decision-making application.

Six companies have used the standards to create a variety of tools to be used within StreamWork’s confines, SAP said Wednesday. It’s also SAP’s latest attempt to further enhance the application for business users. Earlier this year, SAP launched StreamWork enterprise edition, which integrates with its Product Lifecycle Management business (PLM) suite, and the company will soon integrate it with its CRM and BusinessObjects Strategy Management applications.  

StreamWork allows individuals to do things like share documents, instant message, create SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses within the application to help reach decisions collectively. Afterward, users can go back and review those records to audit how or why a certain decision was made.

The decision to support OpenSocial also reflects a step forward in the application’s life cycle, according to Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research Group.

“Streamworks started out as an open canvas looking for a painting,” Wang said. The on-demand application was offered as a much more limited application when it debuted last spring in beta form. “With OpenSocial support, it’s now a canvas that supports multiple masterpieces to be painted.”

A number of companies have already taken advantage of StreamWork’s support for OpenSocial, including GotDecisions, an application that guides the decision-making process by imitating the basic way that the human brain thinks and reaches conclusions, according to SAP.

Other additions include Google’s translation widget, and Doodle, a scheduling application. Other products created in OpenSocial for StreamWork include Atlassian’s tools for tracking and developing software applications.

Some were less impressed.

“I've always wondered why Streamworks is focused on seemingly lightweight offerings that most of its large enterprise customers don't generally adopt,” said Sameer Patel, an analyst with The Sovos Group who follows social media applications.

Still, Patel credited SAP for its decision to incorporate Atlassian, which he said has “deep tentacles” inside many large software organizations. Activities like brainstorming and collaboration are important parts of decision making, he added.

Nonetheless, it’s not clear what it would take for SAP’s core customers to adopt most of those applications, many of which are unknown, Patel said.

StreamWork is slightly different from other collaboration tools like Salesforce.com’s Chatter, or Jive, an independent application which integrates with Salesforce.com, according to both analysts. 

That’s because StreamWork is focused on decision and process facilitation, as opposed to the others, which are more limited “activity streams” that provide a central point for employees to discuss ideas and collaborate, they said.     

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How SAP is handling the social media explosion

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