Ahmad Ludin

Google Wave and SAP 12Sprint- Part 2 (the Trend)

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2010 at 1:00 AM

In part 1, I tried to demystify what google wave is. In this part, I will do the same and try to explain what SAP 12Sprint is.

SAP understands the need for environment that reflect business reality; today’s business reality includes the three key artifacts I talked about in part 1; Data, Collaboration and Messaging- all three in social environment. In response, SAP created a web based application platform that is code named “12 sprint”. What this means is SAP will call 12sprint something else after it is finalized; it is likely that it will remain in somewhat semifinal state or beta for a while to exploit the opportunity to add new features/development; similar to Google’s  Gmail beta phenomenon.

So what is SAP 12Sprint:

SAP defines 12sprint as “a collaborative environment for people to make better decisions based on data”. You can read more here, and here

As google wave is about waves, 12 sprint is built around Activities. It makes distinction between different types of activities in the enterprise. Each activity has a different template or page with specific features. here is the list of Activity types or templates you can pick when creating a new Activity:

  • Blank Activity. An open/blank page for collaborative activities.
  • Prioritization Activity. Create shared goals/objectives, rank them, and capture the final outcome
  • Project Planning Activity. Define a timeline, project objectives and goals
  • Decision Activity Full. Define a situation, set options, gather consensus, reach a final decision, obtain sign off
  • Decision Activity Basic. Define a situation, define a final decision, obtain sign off
  • Discussion Activity. Define a topic for discussion, build a threaded discussion, capture the results
  • Meeting Activity. Arrange a meeting, record notes, capture decisions and action items, and define next steps
  • Research Activity. Define a research topic, collect and share relevant artifacts

As you can see 12sprint is trying to give structure to the collaborative activities you may engage in the enterprise. This approach is not new to the way SAP develops business software. Giving structure has its advantages and not so good things about it; for instance, structure can make things transparent while the many options provided along the path of structure can make things confusing for the users (at least initially).For instance, when creating a decision activity, you may wonder if the Basic option will be enough or choose the Full option.  In comparison, google wave is more of a blank activity that you can give structure to using gadgets and robots. A less structured approach on Google’s part.

Comments, notes, tools catalog and extensions are available for all of the activities;

SAP has not sacrificed the form for function or vice versa; in fact, 12sprint is a very rich web application that is easy on the eyes and easy to work with. It is open in nature, meaning it can be connected with partner applications using extensions; You can easily turn on or off applications – at least with Admin rights. The Outlook extension makes it possible to start an activity from your outlook email. Activity can be forwarded to using email to participants. The Scribd extension allows commonly used document formats(pdf, excel, word, powerpoint etc) to be viewed within an Activity without any download. Tools Catalog is a set of tools available for Activities; these tools such as Agenda, Responsibility Matrix can enhance the relevance and usability of an Activity.

The tools catalog can be made like iphone app store, new tools are added to the catalog and readily available for the enterprises, making it a cloud based platform as well.

12 sprint does a great job in addressing the data and collaboration artifacts I talked about in part 1 of this post, it however is lacking in a built in realtime messaging functionality; 12 sprint, however, is leveraging outlook as the primary messaging tool; This causes some information related to an activity to be left out and be tossed around between participants in emails alone. Perhaps, 12sprint can learn from wave, and include a built in chat tool. This is not the only difference between 12 sprint and wave; wave is primarily designed for the consumers; the same way as google maps is; wave can be used for businesses as well. Unlike 12sprint, wave is open source , less structured tool available that users/enterprises can twist and adjust for their own collaborative activities and enterprises can make use of the huge open source community for Robots and gadgets; where 12Sprint as it stands will be SAP product with some sort of licensing options. In addition, 12Sprint will have to take on MS Sharepoint and convince the enterprises to move away from the popular content management and collaboration tool. This may be its biggest challenge. It is logical that 12Sprint be available through smart phones.

Google and SAP are not alone:

Next-Generation Enterprise Social Collaboration Solutions

SAP and Google are not alone in understanding the need for environment where social media is tightly integrated with business application to help the knowledge workers do their job more efficiently; The business/economic value generated from social application is too significant to be ignored. Microsoft Sharepoint was initially designed to be a content management tool; giving structure to the documents of an enterprise; it now is a collaborative portal also; IBM’s Project Vulcan and Chatter by Salesforce.com are other examples of the social collaborative application.

The Trend:

Outlook Social Connector is another example that software vendors are making application social and in near future all business application developed will have a built in social/collaborative component and there will not be a need for a delayed release of “social connectors”.

Provider extensibility platform diagram

You can read more about the Outlook Social Connector here and here.

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