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Become 15% More Efficient with 34 Million Strong Collab Software

Posted on 8.15.2016

It's a good time to be in the collaboration space with Slack earning a $3.8 billion valuation, Microsoft releasing Planner (as well as acquiring LinkedIn which will no doubt come into play) and SAP Jam reaching 34 million subscribers, an increase of 70 percent from last year. If that weren't enough, research has come to light of just how much time and money enterprises save with the latter's social software platform. 

Forrester found that enterprise-size clients that deploy SAP Jam could achieve a combined net present value of more than $19 million, an overall return on investment of 527 percent. The study also uncovered that enterprises using Jam can:

· Become 15 percent more efficient, providing a $17.6 million gain

· Save 10 hours from every deal put together, decreasing the time spent to close it by 9 percent

· Reduce the costs to train and onboard new employees, saving $5.7 million 

· Quickly resolve customer service issues resulting in a 14 percent reduction in costs

To better understand this momentum, Website Magazine caught up with SAP Vice President of Product Management Steve Hamrick to discuss the collaboration market as a whole, the differences between SAP Jam versus messaging-driven tools and other insights around making communication more efficient. Check out the Q&A below. 

What do you attribute to SAP Jam's growth?

Steve Hamrick, vice president of product management at SAP: Reaching 34 million subscribers is validation that the strategy and approach that SAP took in introducing the SAP Jam product.

When SAP first launched Jam in 2012, we looked at what customers were telling us about their existing investments in enterprise collaboration. Working with customers as our guide, we saw an enormous opportunity to re-think and transform collaboration software, and make it aligned to the types of business processes and problems that employees typically encounter. In particular, we focused on specific areas where we could bring together tasks, documents, people, and business data into one place for a single source of truth to drive business performance. We realized that the majority of business collaboration tools help with file sharing and document editing, but don’t actually connect day-to-day business processes with the complete scope of people, information, and content that employees need. This disconnection was creating huge problems for businesses of all sizes, reducing employee engagement, and limiting enterprise collaboration efficiency.

We also looked at how traditional enterprise collaboration and social products created many kinds of artificial barriers and boundaries. Some tools were disconnected from the places where people were doing their daily work – with no integration to common applications like customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP). Some tools were creating barriers by making it difficult or impossible to include partners, vendors, and customers in a secure collaboration space.

Re-evaluating the traditional approach to enhancing business process agility was what led to the success of SAP Jam Collaboration, and it’s what gave us the motivation and inspiration to launch the SAP Jam Communities product late last year. Where SAP Jam Collaboration is focused on employee-centric processes, the SAP Jam Communities product has been about SAP re-thinking the customer experience for a typical online shopper. We looked at what online buyers needed – the ability to ask questions, see and share product reviews, learn more about products and services through reading blogs, and engage in online discussions. Much like what we saw with enterprise collaboration in 2012, the state of online communities today is the same: most vendors offer a disconnected solution, not attached to the place where their potential buyers are actually browsing for products and services.

How does SAP Jam's growth - particularly related to collaboration - speak to workplace trends?

Hamrick: Over the last few years, more and more traditional businesses have been disrupted by technology, and in particular the trend of digitization – where businesses and business models are completely transformed by digital technologies. This trend has put pressure on large, established businesses to re-evaluate the way they work and even what their core business actually is in order to stay relevant. Often these massive changes require a solid foundation for employees to communicate and coordinate with one another, driven by employees and not the IT department. We recognize that trend, and it has been a core principle and design philosophy for us from the beginning. We’re always striving to make employees more productive without making their lives more complicated, or without overburdening the already overstretched IT department. This involves creating models for how people work and designing technologies that support those patterns. We’ve looked at semi-repeatable processes within companies, especially those who are undergoing some form of business transformation, and identified what we call work patterns. Within SAP Jam Collaboration, there are over 19 work patterns, from training new employees to problem solving to extending learning experiences. These work patterns make it simple to create a shared collaboration space—an online room —where the right people and materials can be securely brought together toward a goal. 

The depth and variety of these patterns have been one of the keys to success for Jam because it goes beyond providing users with just instant messaging conversations – the groups have live access to business data, tools to help drive decisions, discussion forums, Q&As, tasks, documents, etc., which foster engagement. These work patterns also meet the evolving needs of customers as they manage their company through significant change. 

Jam has a mobile-first approach, which has been critical as virtual workplaces become more popular. When most established enterprises launched their intranets, mobile wasn't an issue. Now, their in-house solutions aren't up to the task of supporting the moving pieces of their business – especially employees on the go. 

What does SAP Jam offer that some of the new collaboration offerings (Slack, etc.) don't?

Hamrick: The focus for SAP Jam Collaboration has consistently been how to best align the needs of business leaders to affect their key performance indicators. Products that offer real-time conversations, like Slack and Microsoft Skype for Business, afford users with quick answers and can support work that is very transient in nature – where the relevancy of the conversation is only for a few minutes or few hours. These types of situations include updating a shared document, working together on debugging an application, or asking a quick question about the status of a project. Where SAP Jam Collaboration is different is our focus on providing all the same or similar capabilities around supporting Q&A and discussions, but also thinking about the beginning, middle, and end of those projects or processes.

For example, let’s say a business is growing at a tremendous rate, and they need to hire 100 new sales reps in virtual offices across the country. In order to on-board all of them at once, you’d need direct access to all the training content, videos, documents, and information in an easy-to-access place. Dropping them into a chat conversation might work for some aspects of what they need to learn, but it would not give HR any insight into how fully on-boarded and educated they are, so a real-time chat solution like Slack or Microsoft Skype for Business might not fit the whole bill for bringing on new team members. However, SAP Jam Collaboration does integrate to those solutions to make it easy to connect with colleagues in real-time. But the core experience that you’d want to provide to those 100 new sales reps is one that is well organized, with a full understanding of who that particular sales person is, what learning content they need, and direct integration to the company’s Learning Management Solution. 

Another scenario could be that you’ve trained and on-boarded your sales team, they have access to the latest whitepapers and brochures on your products – all delivered to them via SAP Jam Collaboration. However, they need some way to manage their accounts and opportunities and since they are all virtual, they need a secure, online place to work with sales leadership to plan out target accounts, provide status updates, and share key documents like customer proposals and presentations. Again, this is where SAP Jam Collaboration provides a wealth of capabilities – direct integration to a CRM application, live data displayed about customers and accounts, and direct connection between account team members – all added to groups automatically based on their role, title, region, or accounts.

These are all things that SAP Jam Collaboration can do that no other collaboration solution is able to provide with such depth and scope. We continue to work with industry experts and customers to understand what are the common scenarios and work patterns that customers need. To-date, we’ve delivered it in an experience that can be customized and extended without putting a burden on the IT department.

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