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SAP Social Software

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Social + Nothing = Nothing (Part 3)

 

When the telephone was first introduced, companies adopted the telephone to solve real communication challenges. They used the phone because they needed to leave a message, order a product, or check a status. It's no different with social. As a business, you need to ask yourself how you can use it to solve business problems or improve business activities and processes.

 

Analysts agree that social technology without a clear purpose doesn’t work. Social technology needs to be connected to business systems and applied to tangible issues. Social collaboration isn’t effective until it becomes a key ingredient in the day in the life of your employees, applied to the needs they have and the issues they want help with – to deliver results they care about.

 

Social technology needs a purpose

 

Let’s think, for example, about the employee onboarding process in today’s complex business world.

 

master_and_apprentice.jpgIn the olden days, there were apprenticeships. A new apprentice worked alongside a master to learn the skills of the trade. It was a long and expensive process. Today, however, new hires often have complex roles in which they need to learn skills from multiple experts within the organization – and what’s more, the new hires and experts may all be in different geographical locations.

 

With social technology, you can capture the experience and input of experts anywhere in your ecosystem and quickly share it with new hires. When new employees ask questions, the right experts can immediately provide answers and communicate those answers to not only one new employee but many – scaling the sharing of knowledge. It’s no longer a one-to-one pairing – a single expert can now contribute to the onboarding of many new hires, and single new hire can learn from many experts.

 

Start with small challenges

 

In your journey towards becoming a social business, you’ll find that in order to be successful, the key is to tackle small challenges first – or break up your larger challenges into smaller ones. It’s a journey in which success breeds success – the results you show will inspire additional involvement. So once you gain traction with one challenge, move onto the next priority, all the while applying the value that social brings to processes and frameworks that already exist.

 

Be brave! If you fail to get value from a social project, don’t be afraid to drop it or try another approach based on what you’ve learned. And if you’re struggling to see how social could add value to your project, don’t force it – it never works.

 

As you roll out your social projects, make sure you’re clear what the benefit is to the people who you want to engage. Make an effort to understand their motivations. What can they contribute? Do they actually want to contribute? Just as it’s important for the business to gain value from social, it’s also important for the individual to gain value.

 

If you invite the wrong people, their involvement will be non-existent, or worse, disruptive. If you invite the right people, they’ll bring value to the conversations – and they’ll leave feeling rewarded and happy that they were included.

 

Remember:

 

Social + Nothing = Nothing

 

...while:

 

Social + Business Context = Business Value


Social + Nothing = Nothing (Part 2)

 

When it comes to new technology, it’s always made good business sense to apply it within the context of your existing systems and processes – to make things work better and help your business focus on the right challenges.

 

With social technology, it’s no different – it provides the most value when you use it in the context of your existing processes. This is how you inspire adoption, as I mentioned in my previous article on this subject, "Social + Nothing = Nothing (Part 1)."

 

To understand how best to apply social within your business, it’s valuable to think about where it came from. Just like older social technologies were used in the past to solve real business problems, today’s social technology should be applied in the same way.

 

The first social technology

 

Most people would argue that connecting and communicating with technology first began with the telegraph. Little did Samuel Morse know how much he would influence our lives when he sent his first telegram in January 1838 across two miles of wire at Speedwell Ironworks near Morristown, New Jersey. In 1844, when he sent his famous message "WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT" from the Capitol in Washington to the old Mt. Clare Depot in Baltimore, many of the concepts now leveraged by the Internet today were born.

 

telegraph.jpgAs an Englishman, I should also point out that Morse was not actually the first to leverage telegraphy. A four-needle telegraph system was installed and successfully demonstrated in July 1837 between Euston and Camden Town in London on a rail line being constructed by Robert Stephenson between London and Birmingham. At the time, the business need was that Euston needed to signal to an engine house at Camden Town to start hauling the locomotive up the incline.

 

Nevertheless, this new technology allowed messages to be routed – and in a sense, the very first social networking services started between the Morse operators. They gossiped and celebrated special events like marriages and births – instant messaging and feed streams were at its heart.

 

The telegraph deployment in the U.S. grew quickly, and in the following two decades, the overland telegraph connected the west coast of the continent to the east coast. It followed railway lines and connected station to station, enabling messages to be sent about train updates and railroad matters. Soon, it also connected town to town, allowing people to pass along vital messages, bringing an end to the Pony Express.

 

Social technology evolves

 

The world changed even further when the telephone was introduced. From the moment Alexander Graham Bell yelled, "Come here Mr. Watson, I want to see you!” the business of providing telephone service was off and running. Initially, telephones were used primarily by wealthy individuals and large corporations to communicate between specific locations. For instance, a corporation might be connected to its owner’s home by a direct line.

 

The introduction of telephone exchanges allowed many more phones to be connected. One person could now connect to a business, a doctor’s office, a police station or a bank. Companies found value in connecting their locations to help find out instantly what manufacturing levels were at, what they were short of in the warehouse, or what a customer wanted. The telephone changed the world of business forever, providing a more effective way to communicate and making it easier to complete business transactions and connect to customers.

 

It’s always been about context

 

The lesson we can learn from both the telegraph and the telephone is that social technology has always been about applying it in the right context. Sending beeps down a wire like Euston Station did in 1837 wouldn’t have been successful if it had just been needless chatter. The telephone was just a way of doing things better, faster, and easier. Then, as now, new technology provides lasting value when you apply it in a business context that matters.

 

As businesses adopted telephones, none – except, perhaps, the phone companies themselves – ever rebranded themselves as telephony businesses. In the same way, I’m not sure we need to label this latest way of doing business as social business – because, really, it’s just business as usual.

 

Remember:

 

Social + Nothing = Nothing

 

...while:

 

Social + Business Context = Business Value

 

In the series of blog posts titled “Social + Nothing = Nothing,” I argue that you can only achieve success in social business if you tie the human instinct for interaction to real business needs. But what are some practical steps to get started? To guide you through the process, here are steps you can take each week to focus on your top priorities and create an action plan.

 

Week 1

You can only achieve success in social business if you tie the human instinct for interaction to real business needs

To get started, take 10 minutes to write down the top five business challenges you think would benefit from collaboration.

 

Week 2

Rank the list you made last week in order of potential value. Choose the challenge you think is most valuable to resolve. Identify the attributes and areas that will be significantly impacted when people collaborate on it.

 

Week 3

For the top challenge you chose last week, take the list of attributes and areas of impact that that you wrote down and order them into a series of steps to tackle first, second, third, and so on. For each step:

 

  • List the business information and data people will need while they collaborate.
  • Identify the top two or three benefits for each participant of collaborating around that step.
  • List the top two or three things that you think will motivate people to contribute.

 

If you struggle with this week’s step, ask yourself if what you’ve identified so far is still appropriate. If you decide it’s not, don’t be afraid to adjust your list.

 

Week 4

For each of the steps you ordered last week, write down the names of people that should be included in the conversation.  Think about not only who will benefit from being included but also who will be most motivated to participate.

 

Next, consider how to provide the business information and data you identified in the last step. What systems, if any, would you need to integrate?

 

Finally, for each group of people that need to collaborate, identify the systems they use most on a daily basis. It’ll be within the context of these systems that your social collaboration platform needs to reside.

 

If at any time you need help with these steps, feel free to reach out to me – I can connect you to people who can support your desire to become a true social business.

 

If people are naturally social, what’s the point in calling your business "social"?

 

Today we often hear talk of businesses going social – but what, really, does the “social” in social business mean?

 

Humans by their very nature are social creatures: We talk to each other, we converse on the phone, we have relationships with people, we make friends, we are often interested and drawn into the conversations of others, and as parents we work together, collaborating to raise our children.

 

But let’s face it – how people interpret the word “social” depends on the context. If someone says, “Our holiday location has a great social nightlife,” many people would see it as a positive attribute, but for someone looking for a peaceful vacation, it could mean a nightmare.

 

Similarly, in business, the secret is knowing how to apply social technology to make it valuable – and not a hindrance. What a business should aim to do is harness those human characteristics to improve the way it operates.

 

How to apply our social instinct in business

 

The same human instinct exists in a business context that exists in life outside work. If you're walking around a room, you’ll gravitate towards conversations that sound interesting. You want to contribute – take part in the conversation – and sometimes you just can’t help yourself. And that’s what a social business needs to capture and leverage – the tendency for people to be social and to interact.

 

Labelling your company as social doesn’t mean that your job is done

The challenge, though, is to harness that tendency in a way that returns value to the business. Social technology, in other words, needs to focus people’s passion for social interaction into new and better patterns of working.

 

Many earlier social solutions have made it easy to have conversations – but having a conversation around the results of a football match or politics doesn’t return value to the business, and that’s why so many social implementations have failed in the past.

 

Likewise, labelling your company as social – whether by implementing a social technology or creating a social presence on Facebook or Twitter – doesn’t mean that your job is done. A social technology or presence alone doesn’t mean your company or employees are ready to speak or can converse appropriately. You need to create a foundation – both cultural and technical – before you can expect the right results.

 

Two vital components to success

 

First, to ensure adoption, you need to align the organization behind your social environment by helping people feel that they have a voice and giving them the confidence that all ideas, feedback, and input are valid. While it’s important to have the right security, controls, and guidance in place to reduce risk, it’s equally important to have confidence in the instincts and conscience of your employees to interact appropriately. When you make it comfortable and safe to pipe in about a subject to which employees want to contribute, adoption will occur.

 

Next, to solve real business problems quickly, you need to embed social technology within business processes. Research shows that you can’t just deploy a social tool in isolation and expect to gain value from it. Social technology needs to be implemented in the context of something that matters – something that can make a difference to the individuals involved and bring results.

 

True social businesses harness the human instinct for social interaction to solve real business problems

You need to combine the intelligence of experts with relevant business data and up-to-date content to drive conversations that focus on results. For instance, you could use social to bring people together to think about the design of a product or a new marketing campaign or HR initiative. Interested people will naturally want to be part of the discussion and provide value. If you give them an easy way to provide that input, you’ll gain richer knowledge and you’ll also get more buy-in for the decisions that are ultimately made.

 

This formula of taking a goal or context that’s important to your employees – and connecting it to their ability to contribute, wherever they are – is what will help you break down organization silos, overcome geographical boundaries, and shrink the isolation of distance. In the end, you’ll capture the attention of your employees and focus it on discussions that provide value.

 

Think about it this way:

 

Social + Nothing = Nothing

 

...while:

 

Social + Business Context = Business Value

 

The companies destined to become social businesses are the ones that do find a way to harness the human instinct for social interaction to solve real business problems. To achieve viral success, you need to blend a real business opportunity with our natural craving to engage and contribute. If your company does this, you’ll find that problems are solved faster, relationships are stronger, satisfaction is greater, innovation is better, efficiency is streamlined, and more and more people want to join in.

 

Editor's note: In this interview, Sameer Patel, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Social Collaborative Software at SAP, talks about how you should always think about the strategic importance of your existing knowledge as it relates to end users and business processes, regardless of what technology you’re talking about.

 

sameer_patel.pngHow is SAP’s transition to the cloud changing the jobs that exist within SAP?

 

Instead of focusing on particular jobs, I think it’s more important to consider what employees need to do to stay strategic. The cloud changes the way you need to think about technology, and that’s because it has two primary characteristics.

 

First, the cloud is about velocity. The cloud is the vehicle that allows you to respond to the velocity at which your business is evolving, your customers are changing, and your customers’ expectations of business are changing. The cloud gives you the ability to access people, data, and processes in a way that lets you outsmart your competitors faster than ever before.

 

Second, the cloud is about knowledge. To adapt fast and to adapt well, you need to understand who’s doing what and how people are reacting – so you can then make changes to respond to the trends you’re seeing.

 

In the old way of doing things, where customers installed software on-site, it was difficult to understand – at scale – what changes were happening in your market across different applications.

 

Now, if your customers are consuming your applications in the cloud – let’s say, for customer relationship management or sales force automation – you can look across hundreds of thousands or even millions of end users to see what the trends are. You can see how they’re using the applications, engaging with their own customers, and supporting those customers.

 

"Move beyond just thinking about the transactions that technology facilitates"

With talent management applications in the cloud, you can understand how people spend their time learning, how to train them and retrain them, and how performance is being measured in a certain industry or across the 50 largest organizations.

 

That’s the kind of insight and analytics you can get with the cloud – helping you understand and react to trends – that you can’t get when you break data up across multiple data centers.

 

So as an employee working for a company that’s moving to the cloud, you need to move beyond just thinking about the transactions that technology facilitates. You need to think about getting insight across a much larger user set and then setting benchmarks against that larger pool of data.

 

As an employee, that’s how you’ll stay strategic. As a company, that’s how you’ll ultimately bring value to your end customers.

 

What are the top industries or lines of business being impacted by cloud computing?

 

Historically, customer relationship management and human capital management are the lines of business that have had the most cloud noise around them. And in terms of industries, certainly high-tech has been embracing cloud all along. But I think that’s a bit misleading, because the cloud has just as much of an impact in the most regulated industries that you can imagine.

 

To understand why, it’s best to step back and look at things from the point of view of the end user.

 

In healthcare, the end user is the patient. In manufacturing, it might be the factory worker – the person actually on the field using your product. Those are the people whose lives you’re trying to impact with your product or service, and they don’t sit inside your organization. These end users are remote, and you need to serve them on their terms and using the right technology – whether on premise or in the cloud – to reach them and to connect them to each other.

 

"You can’t hide behind your distributors and retailers any more"

Sometimes, you might still need to store sensitive data on premise, if your industry requires that. But it’s not a binary choice – cloud or no cloud. Rather, think about breaking up certain parts of a process – some of those parts will be very ripe for the cloud and can be executed more effectively by cloud technology.

 

In almost all industries, the lines are flattening between the B2B and B2C worlds. Traditional B2B organizations are starting to realize that they have to behave like a B2B2C organization – one that understands what their end consumers are thinking about so that they can influence how they think about their products and services.

 

And guess what? Those end consumers are in the public cloud. That means if you’re a traditional B2B organization, you can’t hide behind your distributors and retailers any more. You need to have access to real-time data on the sentiments and preferences of your customers, wherever they might be.

 

Where do you see new job opportunities being created or older jobs falling away?

 

I’d rather look at it a little differently. When we’re talking about the cloud, we sometimes forget about the wealth of knowledge that employees have if they’ve been working in an industry for a long time. They might have 10, 15, or 20 years of deep, deep experience in their domain – and to discount that would be short-sighted.

 

"We sometimes forget about the wealth of knowledge that employees have if they’ve been working in an industry for a long time"

I believe there’s a huge opportunity for folks like that to leverage their experience if they believe that the cloud is the future. They already have invaluable insights on how their industry works, how customers buy, and how customers actually want to consume their products. So in a very important sense, those employees are standing at the forefront of the transformation that will occur when their industry moves to the cloud.

 

The most effective cloud companies today don’t just offer vanilla software as a service. They allow customers to drive competitive advantage by customizing and extending cloud solutions to fit an industry need. Employees who have a deep understanding of their industry domain will also have a wealth of insight on how to optimize cloud-based applications to serve their customers.

 

As an employee, what do you need to do to educate yourself on the cloud?

 

My advice is to first understand the specific industry that you serve before you can understand how the cloud will impact it. That will allow you to have a frank, objective discussion on whether a hybrid model is appropriate – where the cloud works best, and whether certain core applications and processes are better served on-premise.

 

What you can then start to do is build a strong point of view on how the cloud can help transform your organization and what processes are ripe for cloud innovation. You can be the one to drive the story if you understand the nuances of where the cloud can actually make a difference and transform your business.

 

How does understanding social collaboration help you stay relevant?

 

That’s a great question, but where I would start is actually not with social collaboration. I would start by asking what the white spaces are in terms of how people work today. When you think about typical transactional systems of record, what are the white spaces that they’ve never catered to?

 

"The lines between transactions and collaboration have been flattened forever"

What are the gaps left behind by those systems – in terms of how people sell, how people provide service, and how people build products? How can a network of experts wrap around these problems and opportunities?

 

If you can answer that, you’ll be able to tell your organization how social collaboration can bring better insights, faster turnarounds, and better service for your end customer. The lines between transactions and collaboration have been flattened forever.

 

Follow SAP Social Software on Twitter: @SAPSocial

 


Cloud Career Icon.jpg

#CloudCareer Central

Read more opinions on how cloud computing may affect your industry or line of business – and thus your career.

What better way to manage and interact with your customers than via social collaboration tools? By adding social capabilities in your work, you can leverage your existing software investments in order to shorten sales cycles, enhance your customer service operations, plan marketing strategies, and increase customer and employee engagement. SAP Jam offers a foundation that brings social collaboration to the context of your work—in your applications, on your devices, and to your business processes.

 

To learn more about SAP Jam, watch this video showcasing how SAP Jam enables social collaboration for Sales. Understand how you can extend your existing application investments, such as SAP CRM and SAP Cloud for Customer, by adding collaborative capabilities.

Collaborate_Screenshot2.png

 

If you’re attending the CRM 2014 event in Las Vegas April 1-4, you are ensured an agenda packed with strategies to engage your customers like never before. At the conference, learn how the social collaboration capabilities within SAP Jam enable you to deliver winning customer experiences. Be sure to check-out specific sessions on SAP Jam.

 

Hands-On Labs

Test out a live demo system in one of our 60-minute Hands-On Labs. Roll up your sleeves and learn how SAP Jam enables you to deliver winning customer experiences through social collaboration. See how to use SAP Jam as a collaboration platform where teams can come together to shorten sales cycles, enhance your customer service operations, plan marketing strategies, and increase customer and employee engagement.


Hands-On Labs are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, April 1, 11:45am-1:00pm
  • Wednesday, April 2, 12:45pm-2:00pm
  • Thursday, April 3, 3:00pm-4:15pm
  • Friday, April 4, 10:00am-11:15am

 

Presentation

 

Join the dialogue and follow the #CRM2014 hashtag to access feeds on event content and conversations. See you in Las Vegas!

Collaboration, by definition, is a group of people working together to get something done. When you’re using SAP Jam to collaborate within your business processes, we want to make sure that it’s not only easy to get work done, but also easy to manage who you work with.

 

To help you do that, in the latest release of SAP Jam, we’ve made it possible to:

 

  • Invite people to sub-groups within larger groups
  • Create lists of members so you can invite them all at once to a group
  • Customize terms of use for groups

 

Sub-groups

 

Subgroup1, Overview with sub group menu open.png

 

If you often work with the same people, you’ve probably created SAP Jam groups that have grown quite large as more and more members have been invited. It’s useful to have everyone involved so they stay up to date, but sometimes it makes sense to pull aside a smaller group of people to work together when not everyone needs to be involved.

 

With sub-groups, you’ll be able to invite a subset of members from a larger group to a sub-group. A sub-group works just like a regular group and includes the same collaborative tools – like wikis, blogs, folders, and events – that the parent group includes. When there’s activity within a sub-group, notifications will be posted within the parent group’s feed – but they’ll be visible only to members of the sub-group.

 

For instance, the sales team in your company may have 1,000 employees that are part of a large group. However, if your sales team is also broken down by region – let’s say East, West, and Central – it may be useful to create three sub-groups within the larger group.

 

If you’re a member of the East region, you’ll see updates in your feed from both the larger group and the East group. However, your colleague in the West group will not see updates to the East group, and will only see updates to the West group and the larger group.

 

Likewise, if you’re in HR and are in charge of communicating benefits information to your organization, you may want to create a group that includes everyone in the company. But within that group, you may want to create one sub-group for new hires and perhaps another for managers – so that you can communicate information customized to their needs while also making it easy for them to see updates to the larger group.

 

Member lists

 

DL02, carla autocomplete.png

 

If you’re a company administrator for SAP Jam, you may sometimes have to invite large numbers of people to groups. Often, many of those people will be the same across a number of groups. To make it easier to invite the same people to many different groups, we’ve created member lists.

 

A member list is a group of people that is assigned a name – for instance, ACE HR. After it’s been created, a company administrator can invite all the people within that member list to a new group simply by typing ACE HR into the invitation list.

 

DL04, Using member list to invite.png

 

Terms of use

 

In large organizations, the legal or HR department may require that people agree to certain terms of use before joining a particular group. In the latest release of SAP Jam, we’ve made it easy to automate that process for individual groups.

 

If you’re a group administrator, you can now add terms of use specific to your group. Before members can see the group and its content, they will be prompted to accept the terms. And if you update the terms, all members will again be prompted to accept them. As the administrator, you’ll then be able to run a report to see which members have accepted the latest terms.

 

TOU01, Edit group.PNG

If you’re collaborating on date-driven work with a group of people, it’s imperative to assign dates and times for key activities and milestones to ensure your work gets done.

 

Without a deadline, people may assume a task can be done whenever it’s convenient. And without time set aside for an important activity – say, strategic brainstorming – people often prioritize other activities already in their schedule ahead of it.

 

If you and your team have a clear objective in mind, setting an equally clear timeline for what you need to achieve is paramount. That’s why in the latest release of SAP Jam, we’ve created a new Events interface that lets you schedule times for important things like:

 

  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Conferences
  • Meetings
  • Milestones
  • Training sessions
  • Webinars

 

Once an event has been scheduled, it will appear in a calendar that you can view as a list – or by month, week, or day. And so that you can see and work on all date-driven items in one place, we’ve also made Poll deadlines, Timelines, and Tasks visible in the calendar.

 

Events are designed to be easy to use and help you connect even better with the people you work with. With the new functionality, you can:

 

  • Add events to a group calendar
  • Promote events via a group’s feed
  • Invite people to your event
  • Track who’s attending
  • Add an agenda to an event
  • See all the events you’re interested in quickly
  • Expose events on your overview and wiki pages via a new events widget

 

There are three ways you can use Events.

 

  1. In an existing group. If you’re already in a group, click Events in the left menu of the group’s overview page. If you’re a group admin, you can add the new Event widget to your existing overview and wiki pages
  2. In the Planning and Implementation work pattern. When you use this work pattern – specifically designed for groups working on programs with date-driven deliverables – you’ll be able to take advantage of Events widgets that we’ve already embedded within it.
  3. From the top menu. To see all the events you’re interested in, click Events in the top menu of SAP Jam. You’ll see all the events you’ve registered for across all the SAP Jam groups you’re part of.

 

Here’s a scenario that shows how you might use Events if you’re on a human resources team.

 

Your company’s benefits open enrollment period is coming up soon and you want to train your employees on how to choose the most appropriate benefits. To do that, you’ve invited all employees to a webinar, which they’ll see both in their group feed as well as in their calendars.

 

Events02, Calendar month view with hover card.png

 

When employees view the event, they’ll see more details and also be able to choose whether or not to join it.

 

Events13, Detail of event.png

 

If employees want to save a reminder for the event to their desktop, they can download its .ics file to their desktop and open it with a supported application such as Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar.

 

Events19, download ics file.png

 

To help people search for specific types of events they’re interested in, you can add appropriate categories and tags to them.

 

Events03, Calendar month view with filtering pane open.png

 

Adding tags and categories also lets you use the new event widget to decide which ones to expose on group overview or wiki pages.

 

Events10, Widget variation 2 with an event showing details.png

While at HR2014 event in Orlando, join the SAP Jam sessions to learn firsthand how to apply social collaboration to your talent management program to accelerate and improve business performance.  Within the conference agenda, don’t miss these excellent presentations:

 

Please be sure to visit the SAP booth (#510) to talk with solution experts and see the product up-close. Do not miss a 30-minute demo session focused on SAP Jam that will be delivered by SAP’s Petra Ligthart. The demo sessions are scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, March 12 from 10:15am-10:45am
  • Thursday, March 13 from 8:30am-9:00am

 

If you are not able to attend the HR2014 Orlando event, you can still learn more about social collaboration within HR. Watch this video to understand how SAP Jam helps you connect the dots so you can rapidly recruit and onboard, train and develop top talent, and engage employees and streamline processes.

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Engage in the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag: #HR2014.

If you interact with customers in your role, you know how important it is to resolve customer issues as effectively and quickly as possible.

 

Happy customers lead to repeat business and higher order values. Unhappy customers lead to not only fewer sales but also – in worst case scenarios – angry reactions on social channels that poison your relationship with further customers and prospects.

 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a sales person or a customer service rep – for anyone in a customer-facing role, getting clients from unhappy to happy quickly is imperative. What's clear is that resolving customer issues faster kicks off a chain reaction of positive effects.

 

If you:

 

1. Reduce time to resolution (for your service requests)

 

...you'll:

 

2. Increase customer satisfaction

 

...which means you'll ultimately:

 

3. Shorten sales cycles (for additional sales to those customers)

 

In other words, if you’re a sales rep who’s trying to close additional business with a customer, getting satisfactory closure on an outstanding issue may be even more urgent for you than for your colleagues in customer service. If you haven’t resolved their existing problems, will your customer trust you enough to do more business with you?

 

But if a customer issue is stalling your deal, how do you quickly marshal experts from across your organization – whether from customer service, engineering, or another department – to work together to fix the issue?

 

Sales people that use a CRM often have access – at least theoretically – to the same system that customer service reps use. That’s why it’s called customer relationship management, after all. But in practice, how easy is it for both sales reps and service reps to see the same detail about a customer issue and communicate within the context of that system without resorting to inefficient workarounds?

 

The latest release of SAP Jam, through its native integration with SAP CRM, addresses this problem head on. With its new Service Request Resolution work pattern, you’ll be able to bring together a strike team of experts from a wide variety of teams – not just from sales or customer service – to resolve the customer’s pressing problem.

 

Even if those experts from outside customer service and sales don’t have access to your CRM system, they’ll still be able to see – within the SAP Jam group – key customer data that’s being pulled live from the CRM to keep everyone on the same page.

 

Here’s a brief example of how it might work.

 

Perry is a sales rep who’s beginning to work on a new deal with one of his key accounts, National Rivera. To get an overview of the account before proceeding, he goes into his Account Management group in SAP Jam. In the service requests section, he sees several outstanding issues – one of which, worryingly, is marked as critical.

 

national rivera account group, service requests tab.png

 

He’s immediately concerned that it could affect his ability to proceed with his new deal. To see more details about the issue, he hovers his mouse over the request. In the description that pops up, he sees that the issue is currently being worked on but is marked as having a high impact. He decides to take initiative and create a strike team devoted to closing the critical issue before he continues with his new sales opportunity.

 

national rivera account group, service requests tab -detail bubble-v2.png

 

He clicks Create Group to initiate a new SAP Jam group devoted specifically to resolving that critical customer service ticket. The group automatically includes details pulled live from SAP CRM about the issue, and Perry is able to invite anyone from inside his organization to help drive to resolution, whether or not they otherwise have access to SAP CRM. And because the implementation in question also involves a regional partner, Perry is able to make the group available externally and invite a consultant from the implementation company.

 

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In the group, the team can now discuss a strategy for coming to a resolution. Perry is able to keep track of the details, which of course, he’s keen on knowing about as soon as possible. As the customer service team updates the status of the issue in SAP CRM, everyone in the group is notified of those changes in their event feed. Once the issue is resolved, Perry is notified immediately, and he can go back to what he needs to focus on – his next deal with the customer.

We want SAP Jam to help you get your work done faster and more effectively – by giving you the full picture, a repeatable approach that saves you time, and the flexibility to adapt to your needs.

 

To do that, you need a way to collaborate within the business processes and applications you already use – rather than in separate, disconnected silos of collaboration that make information hard to share.

 

In the November 2013 release of SAP Jam, we announced a concept called work patterns that delivers on that objective. A work pattern is a pre-built collaborative process that combines expertise, content, and best practices with real-time business data and applications. It lets you connect the dots so that everyone can stay on the same page, make rapid, informed decisions, and act on them to deliver results.

 

Now, in the February 2014 release of SAP Jam, we’re continuing to build on that objective. We’ve introduced:

 

  • New work patterns that help even more teams get work done
  • Faster ways to find the experts you need to connect with
  • Better ways to work together using events and subgroups

 

New work patterns

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Service Request Resolution: If you’re a customer service professional – or anyone that works with one – you’ll know how important it is to resolve customer issues as fast as possible. Often the best way to do that is to include people from a wide variety of teams – not just customer service – that have the expertise to answer tough questions. With the Service Request Resolution work pattern, you’ll be able to create a strike team within SAP Jam to do exactly that. Even if those experts from outside customer service don’t have access to your CRM system, they’ll still be able to see – within the SAP Jam group – key customer data that’s being pulled live from the CRM to keep everyone on the same page.

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Planning and Implementation: Have you ever had to plan an event or implement a program with key deliverables on certain dates? The Planning and Implementation work pattern takes advantage of SAP Jam’s new events and calendars functionality so that you can bring together a team to organize date-driven activities. It’s great for planning customer projects if you’re in professional services; training and company events if you’re in HR; tradeshows and conferences if you’re in marketing; or even sales training if you’re on the sales team.

 

Expert finding and endorsement

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Experts are the lifeblood of any organization – and connecting with the right ones is key to getting the right information so you can get your job done. To help you find the right people to help you, we’ve added the following to SAP Jam.

 

  • Self-identification of expertise. In SAP Jam, you can now identify yourself as an expert on a topic by adding an expertise tag to your profile.
  • Peer endorsement. Once you’ve added an expertise tag to your profile, others can then visit your profile to endorse you on that expertise.
  • Social expertise endorsement. If you answer a question within a forum and someone else marks your answer as the best answer, the tags on the question are automatically added to your expertise – and you can choose whether or not to make them visible to others.

 

To find an expert, use the search feature in SAP Jam to search for the topic you’re looking for. The search results will uncover experts related to that topic – in addition to any relevant groups or content.

 

On top of that, SAP Jam will now also recommend relevant experts to follow on your home page feed and within the new-user onboarding wizard.

 

Events and calendars

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We’re very happy to deliver on a popular customer request that goes hand-in-hand with the new Planning and Implementation work pattern – a way to work with events and calendars. All groups will include a new Events menu item, and groups created using the Planning and Implementation work pattern will feature a widget that shows a list of events.

 

In the Events view, you’ll be able to invite and track attendees, view the calendar in month, week, or day format, and even filter the kinds of events by category. To save an event to your desktop calendar, download its .ics file and open it with a supported application such as Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar.

 

To streamline your experience with events and calendars, we’ve updated the functionality of Agendas, Polls, Timelines, and Tasks. Agendas have been absorbed into the new Events feature, and Poll deadlines, Timelines, and Tasks now appear in the group calendar.

 

Sub-groups

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If you often work with the same people, you’ve probably created SAP Jam groups that have grown quite large as more and more members have been invited. It’s useful to have everyone involved so they stay up to date, but sometimes you need to pull aside a smaller group of people to work on projects when you aren’t quite ready to involve everyone.

 

With this new functionality, you’ll be able to invite a subset of members from a larger group to a sub-group. A sub-group works just like a regular group and includes the same collaborative tools – like wikis, blogs, folders, and events – that the parent group includes. When there’s activity within a sub-group, notifications will be posted within the parent group’s feed – but they’ll be visible only to members of the sub-group.

 

For even more details on what’s new, please refer to the SAP Jam What's New documentation for February 2014 available at http://help.sap.com/sapjam.

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In today’s demanding corporate environment, businesses are struggling to boost employee engagement. According to a recent report, only 13 percent of employees say they are engaged at work. Does that include your employees?

 

Collaboration, the act of working with other people to achieve a mutual benefit, is vital to employee engagement.

 

Now, HR departments can take advantage of solutions that bring productive, engaging social collaboration to the enterprise.

 

Download the “6 Ways Social Collaboration Can Boost Employee Engagement” paper now to learn how social collaboration can help HR departments answer the following questions:

 

  • How can we engage new hires and make them productive more quickly?
  • How can we reduce the cost of training, while simultaneously providing more and better training?
  • What can we do to improve our performance management?
  • How can we get more employees to collaborate and contribute?

 

To read the white paper, register here.

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Listen now:

The Rise of the Social Enterprise: What’s Up?

 

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[Above, L to R]: Michael Miscisin, Alan Lepofsky, Anthony Leaper

 

Today’s buzz: Getting social. Tell the truth. When it comes to “social status”, is your company a hider or a seeker? The experts speak.

 

Michael Miscisin, Ernst & Young: “Social media can no longer be the purview of the summer intern, a small group in marketing, or outsourced to a PR agency. The ‘Social Enterprise’ is a concept that leverages the full scale of any company, to build trusted relationships that benefit each function, division, business unit, and geography.”

 

Alan Lepofsky, Constellation Research: “Changing to ‘social’, just for the sake of it, is a losing strategy. You need to have a plan that maps the right tools as solutions to specific problems. No one tool is going to solve everything.”

 

Anthony Leaper, SAP: “By using the label ‘social enterprise’, are we in danger of focusing on it in isolation of the bigger picture, thus potentially diminishing its value? After all, social + nothing = 0. We can all be ‘Social’!”

 

Listen to the replay now

Enterprise2SummitParis.pngThe SAP Jam team is excited to sponsor the Enterprise 2.0 Summit, which is occurring February 10-12 in Paris. With a focus on social business, the Enterprise 2.0 Summit agenda is packed with customer case studies, expert panels, thought leadership, and networking. In particular, don’t miss case studies by SAP Jam customers, TELUS Communications and Grundfos, and panel discussions that include members of the SAP Jam team. 

 

February 11, 2014

 

February 12, 2014

 

While at the event, please visit the SAP Jam exhibit booth to have a detailed conversation and see the product up close. Participate in the event conversation by following the hashtag #e20s and the Enterprise 2.0 Summit blog.

For many companies SAP Learning Solution is the software of choice when it comes to learning and personnel development. As powerful as the SAP  Learning Solution may be, its main focus remains on the formal training process. However to leverage all possibilities and complete the learning mix, employees should be supplied with tools that support informal and social learning. From an SAP perspective the obvious tool here is SAP Jam as it imparts all of the great features to connect employees and allow them to collaborate and share their knowledge in order to do their jobs better.


So now there are two separate software products covering the learning needs from both sides, formal and informal. The good news here, is that these applications don't work isolated - they work in an integrated way while leveraging the individual strength. 


As a result of our discussion feedback from our customers we wanted to realize two integration scenarios:


  • bridging the gap from formal trainings to knowledge sharing groups
  • providing dedicated learning groups to enhance the experience of time dependent trainings


Let’s have a look at them one by one.

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Bridging the gap from formal trainings to knowledge sharing groups

There are many ways for employees to discover interesting and useful groups on the SAP Jam platform. Now new services has been added to the existing mix and point employees, who are interested in taking a course, to the knowledge sharing group that covers the same topic. The idea behind it is that learners should get suggestions to relevant groups based on their booking activity.

Please note that these groups may have existed isolated from the course offerings for some time already and have built an active community. These groups are not meant to belong to the courses / course types exclusively.

 

Take a look at the process flow in detail:

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The starting point is that the course administrator has identified (or created) a group on SAP Jam where a formal training exists on the SAP Learning Solution -side (1). If that’s the case, the group can be linked to the course type using new attributes based on the SAP Jam group ID (2). This works for web-based trainings, classroom courses and other delivery methods. Understandably the administrative effort should be kept as low as possible. Therefore the rest of the process has been automated (still individual events need to be scheduled manually as the dates cannot be foreseen(3)).

 

If employees now book the course (4) they will receive an invitation to join the group on SAP Jam automatically (5). Depending on the settings the participants will be notified by email, via the mobile app or on the SAP Jam website. Please keep in mind that particularly for classroom trainings there is only one group assigned on the course type level. So no matter on which course the learners are booked, they will join the same group.lso-jam-invitation.png

This means that the knowledge sharing group have been decoupled from the life cycle of the classroom trainings and therefore ignore other roles like tutors, instructors and course administrators on purpose. If you want to have these roles covered please continue reading.

 

Now consider the following: your learners finished a web based training. Unfortunately not all of their questions have been answered by the learning content. To make it easy for them to reach out to the experts, the solution provides links / buttons that guide learners to the corresponding knowledge sharing  group right from the learning portal.

 

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These links are available on the training home page (for web based trainings only), on the course type detail pages and in the training history. Surely customers who want to provide a modern learning experience might have some strong feeling about, what this integration should be called. For that reason easy configuration in that area allows adjustments to the label of the link / button that appears on the learning portal, supporting multiple languages as usual.

 
If learners for whatever reason decide to cancel the booking they will remain a member of the knowledge sharing group. This solution is based on the assumption that the group assignment should not only exist in combination with the course. Such setting would allow employees to continue being engaged on the collaboration platform for the originally selected subject. However, there is a customizing switch to choose if only booked employees should remain group members or not.

 

 

Providing dedicated learning groups to enhance the experience of time dependent trainings

In difference to the above the following scenario explains how the dedicated learning group is much more tied to the life cycle of the classroom training. Therefore such learning groups are not available for time-independent delivery methods. The goal is to provide learners, tutors, course administrators and instructors a private learning group for a single course event.

 

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Either the tutor or the course administrator created a group on SAP Jam (1). This group is not used for the actual collaboration. It is rather the master group that will be used as a copy template. This master group will be assigned to the course type using new attributes based on the Jam group ID (2). As this integration is much more tied to the course life cycle, the course administrator can maintain rules for “start of collaboration” and “end of collaboration”.

 

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This way, administrators can define when a member of each role should join the group. Even an automatic “clean up” after the course ends is possible. In addition administrators are in a position to determine the role of the tutor / instructor within the SAP Jam group. This is particularly useful if learners shouldn’t have access to all documents stored in the learning group. If tutors and instructors join as group administrators they will have access to all private folders by default. There is no need to maintain this on an event basis.

 

After these settings have been maintained on the course type level there are no manual activities required in the day to day workflow to bring this integration to life. If a course is scheduled (3) the system automatically copies the master group (4), adds the responsible course administrator as group administrator (5) and assigns the newly created group as the actual individual learning group to the course (6). By leveraging the copy mechanism all content stored in the master group and almost all settings such as group description and profile picture are replicated. This implementation is much more efficient than starting from scratch or applying a native group template for each course event.

 

Now the tutors, instructors and learners will receive an invitation to join the group at different points in time dependent on the settings maintained for the particular course type (7). Finally with the start of the course all of the participants will have access to the group according to their role (member, group administrator). Similar to the first scenario – employees can jump to the event-specific learning group using a button on the training home page and a link on the course detail page. After the course ends the system automatically revokes the access of certain users if this is the desired behavior.

 

The second integration scenario really focuses on the formal time-dependent course, providing all the functionality of SAP Jam to enrich the learning experience. It can offer further support for course administrators as they can post event specific information like recommended hotels or the menu of the canteen. Even more important, the course administrator can assign a task to the instructor. This could be the task to fill out the attached attendance sheet at the last day of the course. Once the integration is set up there are sure a lot more administrator' supporting use cases to be found.

 

It should come as no surprise now, that the processes for cancellations or any change to the tutor and instructor assignment have been automated. In case the entire course is cancelled the individual learning group will be deleted as it has become obsolete. Should the booking of a learner be cancelled the access is revoked almost immediately. The same logic applies to instructors and tutors.

 

The aim was to develop these services in such way, that course administrators won't have to do any manual steps to ensure that only relevant persons can access the learning group.

 

Start Today

Both scenarios are available as of this quarter and are targeted at organizations using the renovated learning portal and the enterprise edition of SAP Jam. The SAP Services organization has created an engineered service to support customers during the concept and implementation phases.

In case you have any question or want to see the integration in action please reach out to Giovanna Enea or me directly.

 

Kind regards,

Martin Mueller

@muellersmartin

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