SAP Unfolds Jam Roadmap With Collaboration In Mind

SAP Jam may be the most popular unknown collaboration software in the enterprise. This week SAP shared their vision for its future.
Improving Customer Experiences: 10 Ways IT Can Help
Improving Customer Experiences: 10 Ways IT Can Help
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Collaboration has become one of the "it" applications of 2015. It seems like the rare week that goes by without the announcement of a new application to help your company work together more completely, share information with less effort, and in general foster teamwork and company spirit.

Now SAP wants to be the company that does that -- and more.

Unless you're an SAP customer (or a journalist or analyst covering the company), you probably don't know that SAP has a collaboration tool on the market. You're even less likely to know that SAP Jam has 21.8 million subscriber seats, according to Steve Hamrick, vice president of product management for SAP Jam.

SAP held an event for a small group of journalists and analysts this week to talk about Jam and the plans for its future. High on the list of those plans: Changing Jam from an application to a platform and making Jam communities a key tool in the battle for more efficient customer relationships.

InformationWeek has already reported on SAP Jam Communities, but much of the information provided during the day-long Boston event provided useful background for that announcement, and for the rest of the Jam platform. During the day, much of the discussion revolved around automating and transforming "work patterns" -- which SAP defines as "repeatable, collaborative, business processes."

Daisy Hernandez, vice President of product management for SAP Jam and enterprise collaboration and social software, said that Jam is not a product designed to be social for the sake of being social. The key for customers is driving business results and measuring those results.

To drive the results, SAP is tying Jam to specific business processes like sales and HR. One of the newer areas for Jam integration is business education, and Hernandez presented numbers to explain why.

Hernandez said that SAP's research indicates that the average training budget for large companies is $13 million, while the average cost to create one hour of learning is $1,772. Reducing the second number while maximizing the effectiveness of the first would provide the kind of measurable results that SAP says is key to Jam's suite of enterprise benefits.

Hamrick said that the Jam development platform will be the way many of those benefits are delivered. In the case of enterprise learning, Hamrick and others discussed the learning capabilities already built into SuccessFactors that could be accessed through a Jam group -- while Jam social functions are available from SuccessFactors learning modules.

That is, in fact, the most distinctive feature I've seen in Jam: It doesn't care whether you know you're using it.

[Read more about SAP's recent partnership with Splunk.]

Most collaboration software wants to be the center of your work experience: If you live within the collaboration framework, every task becomes something that you access as part of the act of collaborating.

Jam, on the other hand, is now a platform that is designed to place social discussions and collaborative functions within other applications and other business operations.

In many ways this roadmap for Jam echoes the roadmap SAP has discussed for S4/HANA -- a roadmap in which analytics become part of the functionality rolled into line-of-business applications. According to Hamrick, one of the features on the Jam roadmap is an embedded analytics dashboard that will allow managers to see insights and trends related to various KPIs and usage statistics beyond basic page-view and time-on-page metrics.

Building new collaborative functionality into essential enterprise applications and then providing executives with the ability to monitor and manage the impact those functions have on the bottom line is how SAP is describing the evolution of Jam.

Now the question is how customers and integrators will use new -- and old -- features for collaboration and community.

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