Monday, December 20, 2010

On stage with Google's Scott McMullan at SAP Influencer Summit

Cross-posted here.

A couple of weeks ago Scott and I presented the Enterprise Edition of SAP StreamWork, and detailed its integration with the Google Apps Marketplace. The video is now posted to YouTube, and embedded here:

Highlights include:
  • Designed to extend: we show it extending SAP CRM
  • You are in control: invite anyone who has an email address
  • No friction: sign in with Google IDs.
  • Small business friendly: on the Google Apps Marketplace
  • Secure yet simple: Enterprise Agent deploys on-premise, handling security
Thank you Scott -- was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guest spots on DM Radio for Strategic Collaboration panel - SAP, SAS, and Acone

Originally posted here.

Last week I had the privilege to join a radio program with Information Management's DM Radio on Strategic Collaboration. I must say radio was a first for me but it was a lot of fun.

Eric Kavanagh and Robin Bloor of the Bloor Group co-hosted 3 panelists, discussing the new the battle "for where you work" and "your leisure time" which are developing a lot of overlap. The panelists were:
  • myself, SAP
  • Ed Hughes, SAS
  • Dexter Bachelor, Acone

The SAP StreamWork part of the panel comes up at timecode 11:25 through about 26:45 as the first panelist. I talk a bit at the end as well, but since you can't jump forward you might not get there. And to keep things interesting I embedded the bingo works "kooky" and "umbilicus."

But you can register and download the MP3 if you'd like.

Thanks to Eric and Robin for a fun chat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

StreamWork, Chatter, Yammer... What's the deal?

This week a bunch of us have been hunkered down in Santa Clara at the SAP Influencer Summit talking about SAP's strategy and execution. There were many questions about the relationship between SAP StreamWork and other tools like Chatter and Yammer. Perhaps it had something to do with that rave in SF featuring former presidents that happened on the same days.

Here are some specific questions I was asked:
  • How are you going to compete with Chatter's adoption?
  • Why is SAP doing this at all?
  • Chatter is free; how do you compete with that?
Here is an outtake of some of the questions that flowed...

StreamWork wants to connect the places you work to make you faster and better, while making your life simpler. It is targeted towards making short-term, powerful decisions and with all of the data and people at your fingertips. It is extremely well suited to "finishing off" the business process letting people handle all of the swirling chaos around it, involving the people and information that make sense.

But the questions, to me, are more fundamental. StreamWork doesn't want you to stop using the tools you love. It wants to flow them into the broader conversation and give you the world's best tools on top. StreamWork has a feed, but is not equivalent to a feed; it has the tools on top to get the work done.

Yet since the micro-blogging pattern has gained semi-ubiquity people think things that have activity streams should be compared. OK. But the fact is they enhance each-other. A portion of my tweets show up in Facebook; I don't choose which system to use, but I use them for different purposes, symbiotically. And my friends, we talk over this fabric, often from entirely different systems.

The world is federated, and it will remain so. If you want to pull together a federated conversation to drive it to action, you need to do a few things right:

  • Complete openness -- This means people, data, human languages, programming languages, etc. Let's start with people. Let everyone in the world in for Free. No corporate email required. In fact, if you use gmail, you don't even have to sign in.
  • Standards based -- Standards like allow micro-blogging systems to inter-operate. And it frees your data to use it how you want. You can use our cloud server as your feed server today using this standard, for free. Oh -- and it goes without saying that you should support OpenID, OAuth, SAML, and OpenSocial.
  • Connected to the real stuff -- SAP customers touch your lives in many ways. They produce the food on your table, the drink in your glass, the power to your home. Odds are they touch your business. Don't you think your extended conversation needs access to those systems? With the new Enterprise Edition, your on-premise world is connected to your cloud-world. Let the data (and the real activities) flow.
  • Rapid releases to improve, driven by user feedback -- If you like what we did this month, just wait until next month. If you don't like it, tell us, and we'll fix it. Openly and Transparently feedback driven.
  • Be humble: People know how they want to work. Let them lead the way.
So, in summary: use what works. And hold your vendors responsible. And have fun.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Passion or Greed? Organizing principles for Sustainability

(cross posted here)

A number of months ago, when trying to wrap my head around 'sustainability,' I thought I'd ask the web, and noticed something interesting.

When you search Google Images for Sustainability, you find this:

When you search Flickr for Sustainability, you find this:

Do you notice a difference? I do. And it is based on the organizing principles of Google Images and Flickr Images.

Google's business engine is advertising. Advertising intends to sell. The results from Google are images that people trying to sell you something they have made. Yes -- the ranking is all link-based, but anyone who has used Google over the last 10 years has noticed that the long tail has grown a lot quieter. The top results are very tied to commerce.

I would describe Flickr's business model as either Passion or Love. People photograph what they care about, and share the photographs with people they care about. It is emphatically human. That is why almost all of the results from Flickr have something that virtually NO images from Google have: Peace Plus One.

People, all over the world, are flashing this sustainability gang sign and I would wager that most of you sustainability zealots out there have never seen it, at least from the conversations I've been having. Why? They don't give you money. Peace Plus One is the understanding that we all must collectively improve our society, environment, and our economy. When SAP talks about sustainability, this is exactly what we are after. This is also what we report. We define it as the holistic management of social, environmental, and economic risks and opportunities for increased short- and long-term profitability.

Yes, we talking about profitability, but that is also an indication of efficiency (just as carbon reduction is), or lean-ness, or simplicity. I also like McDonough's counterpoint provocation: loving all children of all species for all time.

But really, it is simple. SAP's organizing principle is to make the world run better.

In other words, Peace Plus One FTW.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A good week -- SAP Carbon Impact 5.0 and an update to SAP StreamWork go live...

I'd like to take a moment to celebrate two achievements this week - the tremendous 5.0 launch of SAP Carbon Impact - business software to manage your facility energy, or business carbon and lifecycle assessments, and an exciting update to SAP StreamWork - software for you to get work done faster, in a more natural way.

The Carbon Impact release is detailed in a Press Release - but here is the nut: companies need to run better. Its tough out there. Part of that is managing energy, managing carbon (as an important indicator of waste, among other things), empowering your employees to manage themselves sustainably (through green rewards), etc. And we help you with that in an easy-on-the-eyes, highly-consumable modern application, and it will keep getting better.

StreamWork has been helping people make better, faster team decisions since March, but we continue to rapidly innovate on it, based largely on your in-product feedback. Log in to see some of the updates in Friday's release, such as feeds and in-product IM. But here is the nut: you need to run better. Its tough out there. Work has gotten harder, we want to make it easier, we want you to flow. Know that there is more coming -- and there will always be. That is the beauty of continuous improvement that we manage for you, without a sputter, in the cloud. But for us to cater to your needs we need your feedback, so come on in and give it to us.

Oh, and by the way: software at work is getting a bit more fun, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Watch that stream become a wave

Hello everyone!

We are excited to be working to support the Google Wave Federation Protocol in SAP StreamWork to let tools – collaboration or business – work seamlessly between any wave server, including Google Wave! With SAP StreamWork, we help business be more productive by letting people drive decisions together. Since our first BETA announcement a number of months ago we have been constantly compared to Google Wave, due to the real-time characteristics of the collaboration patterns we use. While products each have a different focus, they are also naturally complementary, and from the moment we saw Google Wave we were excited about the possibilities of connecting the two. This year’s Google I/O is our first opportunity to tell the story of how we plan to work collaboratively with Google, the Wave Federation Protocol, and OpenSocial.

For those of you who are not familiar with SAP StreamWork, it is aimed at transforming the way people work. When Google developed Google Wave it asked the question, “What would e-mail, instant messenger, and collaborative document creation look like if it were invented in the 21st century?” Similarly, SAP asked the question, “How can people solve important business decisions in a natural, fluid way, making every day more effective and fun?”. SAP StreamWork is a new on-demand, collaborative decision-making application that brings together people inside or outside your organization with information for fact-based decision-making and interactive business tools for collecting feedback, strategizing, and brainstorming, and is available today in a free version for anyone. It is also fully extensible by developers using open REST APIs.

Many of you make decisions every day, using a range of tools, from e-mail, to white boards, to shouting matches, to business applications and business intelligence. We get the work done, but it often becomes chaotic and hard to follow and can hinder clear decisions. Wave is modernizing collaborative communication; SAP is modernizing business. SAP StreamWork brings together people, information and proven business methodologies to help teams naturally and fluidly work toward goals and outcomes. Teams can assess situations together, develop strategies and make clear decisions, with a full record of what transpired. What better idea than to include anyone with a wave account?

So this is how we see you rolling in the near future: A supplier just notified you they couldn’t deliver materials that you need tomorrow to continue production. Crap! You bring that context fluidly into SAP StreamWork and assemble a team, bringing experts in that industry to see who might have capacity. Some of the people you know are registered as Google Wave users – instead of having to enter a different system, the business discussion complete with analytical and business tools show up in their wave inbox. It no longer matters where people are, or what tools they prefer – they can safely make decisions, in real-time, and directly drive the business applications that run the largest companies in the world. Now that feels like an improvement, yeah?

At this year’s Google I/O we will show the beginnings of this. But, what exactly, are we talking about?

Passing the Wave (Wave Federation):

At I/O we plan to show how SAP StreamWork has added a Wave Server to the platform to enable conversations between SAP StreamWork and other Wave servers. In SAP StreamWork a user starts an Activity where in they invite other participants to collaborate with them on a work activity like making a business decision. The group can then add the data and tools to guide them through the decision process. When an activity is created, StreamWork creates a new wave and federates the content of that Activity to the Wave server of any Wave users that may have been invited to that activity. With this integration Wave users will be able to seamlessly collaborate with SAP StreamWork users to work on the important decisions they need to make every day.

Go Go Gadget! (Gadget / Method Interoperability):

In order to ensure that content from an Activity or wave is properly federated between each other, we had to ensure that the content found in both systems was compatible with each other, and this included Wave Gadgets and StreamWork Methods. Wave Gadgets are shared programs that run inside waves, and are very comparable to StreamWork Methods which are business tools that run inside StreamWork Activities. Theproof of concept will show the compatibility between a StreamWork business method being federated over to Google Wave. We intend to create a generic compatibility between StreamWork Methods, and Wave and OpenSocial Gadgets so that developers will be able to ensure that gadgets or methods built for one system will work in the other.

These are the early days with our Wave Federation Protocol support and we are still in proof of concept stage, but we are excited to discover together with you how Wave, OpenSocial and StreamWork naturally extend each other, and we intend to deliver value to our customers, based on this work, within the next year. So please let us know your ideas, and we can figure out how the make the world a little more productive every day.

-David Meyer, SAP

Monday, February 15, 2010

Beware the Water Hammer

Water Hammer:  a pressure surge or wave resulting when a fluid (usually a liquid but sometimes also a gas) in motion is forced to stop or change direction suddenly (momentum change). Water hammer commonly occurs when a valve is closed suddenly at an end of a pipeline system, and a pressure wave propagates in the pipe.

They say everything you need to know you learned in Kindergarten.  I still managed to learn a little in later years, including my graduate years studying water.  But the concept is the same -- the world is full of patterns, and systems begin to look alike regardless of the discipline.

Which brings me to my point: driving change in an organization has analogies to driving change in a fluid system.  The people dynamics have corollaries in fluid dynamics.  People have momentum and fluids have momentum.

When you close a valve in a water system, it is easy to congratulate yourself for your success.  No water is passing!  I have changed the system!  Problem solved.  But depending on the system, seconds or minutes or hours later you might be dead.  Explosions, ruptures, and implosions, sometimes deafening and disastrous, can be your end.  Why?  The accumulated momentum in the system is hard to stop.  You have to think of all of the water, all the way upstream, and determine where all of that momentum will be absorbed.

In working on 12sprints, we had to change the system of SAP to account for some of our new models.  Elastic subscription services have a ton of ramifications for a traditional software company, from accounting to legal to privacy to support, and every time we reached a decision (closed a valve / redirected flow) we learned that other parts of the system had momentum we hadn't anticipated.  And were there explosions?  That would be too strong a word, but there definitely turbulent debates and some bent metal in the expansion joints.

My conclusion?  Change is a lifestyle.  It is a lifestyle only survived by being relentlessly attuned to the rest of the system, and using a simple recipe when the pressure builds: be open, creative, and luckier than most.

And always wear waterproof clothing.