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Social collaboration technology has often seemed to be more of a tease than a serious technology for enterprises, but SAP believes that it has cracked the code with SAP Jam. The cloud-based social collaboration platform just hit the 21 million subscriber mark, according to the company.
This represents dramatic growth from the 4 million subscribers in the platform's introductory year of 2012, and the total has more than doubled the subscriber base of a year ago. The business-oriented characteristics and focus on specific processes have fueled the growth, said Sameer Patel, senior vice president of product management and go-to-market for SAP Cloud/SuccessFactors.
"The reason for the kind of growth we had is that we've run far away from the typical idea that because Facebook works so well in our personal lives, it should work just as well in work life," Patel said.
SAP Jam fits into the "whitespaces," or areas within processes such as sales and customer service that are not addressed by the typical ERP or customer relationship management (CRM) system. "SAP has the transactional applications, and SAP JAM provides not only the collaboration layer but also very focused process-specific capabilities that either integrate into SAP applications or into non-SAP applications," Patel explained.
These capabilities primarily take the form of "Work Patterns," pre-built collaboration processes that combine expertise, content, and best practices with the real-time transactional systems and applications that people use day to day. The Work Patterns could help a sales team close deals faster by enabling them to find expertise not typically found in their salesforce automation system, Patel said.
Learning management is another area where SAP Jam can help fill the gaps in business processes. "The typical learning management system (LMS) is great for training, but a lot of learning is peer-to-peer network driven," Patel said. "It's people on the ground and it's driven by the experts who have done it many times before you have."
SAP Jam is integrated with SuccessFactor's human capital management (HCM) suite, SAP CRM and SAP Cloud for Customer, Business Suite, Business Objects business intelligence applications and various third-party applications such as Google Docs and Twitter. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are now available to extend Jam and enable custom integrations.
SAP Jam's growth in users can also be explained by this extensibility and integration with non-SAP systems, Patel claimed.
"We wanted to make sure that the product had enough extensibility in it so partners could build industry or customer specific extensions to Jam, and because it can talk to third-party applications, you can integrate it in a very heterogeneous landscape," he said. "There's been an incredible uptick in the last year on what our partners are doing with the product because it's one of the few collaboration platforms that allow you to conform the software to how the user wants to work versus typical cloud software where you have to conform to how the software works."
SAP Jam is entirely cloud-based software as a service, with licensing on a per-user basis.
SAP unveils product lifecycle costing application
Better pricing information leads to better cost estimating, and to improve this process SAP has announced SAP Product Lifecycle Costing. A standalone offering powered by the SAP HANA in-memory database, it plugs into ERP systems and other business applications to use existing data to provide better pricing information for initial product cost estimates, according to a press release from the vendor.
Manufacturing companies face problems because lack of visibility early in the quoting process can result in lost profits once the actual production order is priced. The variation between quoted and actual price can often result in losses of millions of dollars for some companies. SAP claims that Product Lifecycle Costing can provide visibility into ERP data at all times in the process and simplify maintenance of the typically large number of spreadsheets used to cost products. It provides a high-performance, real-time calculation engine with a dedicated role-based user interface, along with personalization and Microsoft Excel-like configuration, according to the vendor.
SAP Product Lifecycle Costing includes flexible, hierarchical product costing structures with native integration to SAP ERP; an open standards-based API for integration with other applications; what-if scenarios and analytics to support design, production, supply chain, and sourcing decisions based on alternative product structures, cost rates, or quantities; and standard SAP business application security, locking and versioning, according to the press release.
SAP said these capabilities allow companies to calculate against target cost accurately, mitigate financial risks, shorten the quotation cycle, reduce time to market, shrink development costs, and increase product profitability.
SAP Product Lifecycle Costing is available now for early-adoption customers as part of the SAP Ramp-up program.
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