Does StreamWork Give a Picture of SAP’s Future?

This SAP story is getting a bit more interesting. Today we sat in in on a call with its team over at StreamWork, the new collaboration, SaaS service, previously known as 12Sprints.

Dave Meyer lead the discussion. For the first time, at least for us, he helped crystalize how SAP will extend its relevancy. Meyer and his team were joined by StreamWork partners — a curious mix of companies that include Scribd, Evernote and Box.net, not exactly the trio you’d expect to show up as partners with SAP.

The story is not entirely without its bumps. We found a few but that’s not so surprising. We had trouble accessing the platform using a Google Chrome browser. It worked fine in Firefox.

You can make fixes bit easier in a SaaS environment. Feedback comes in, the code gets a touch up and a new change is made. That’s a bit of a different approach for SAP. It leads to the possibility that SAP is shifting its efforts by using a SaaS platform as a window to its deep back end, specifically Business Objects.

SAP is taking an open-source approach. It integrates with Google Open Social and can pull in data from third-party source using RESTful web services.

Google Open Social serves as a platform for tools that can be used within the framework of the StreamWork product. For example, an OpenSocial gadget to do polls may be used to get quick answers for team members.

That’s one way to be relevant n a new age of web-oriented technologies and continued emergence of forceful, open-source competitors, both on-premise and the cloud.

The direction does seem right. the StreamWork platform could serve as a front end to the enormous SAP program libraries that companies keep on-premise. For now, though, the integration is relatively simple and not yet really defined. We received this statement from SAP after the call when we asked about access to SAP applications through StreamWork:

“People will begin to see some initial integrations SAP’s Developer Network, which should preface some additional capabilities to come. While we can’t share granular plans, SAP has full intentions to integrate StreamWork into existing business applications. Users should see these developments over the next year. It also is up to customer feedback to prioritize which comes first, SAP has many integrations in the works and will determine which to pursue based on customer need.”

But the philosophy seems correct.

But how do Scribd, Evernote and Box.net fit in?

In a web-oriented world, static files can be a glut, obstructing the work flow. Scribd serves as viewer for accessing those important documents that may be deep in the enterprise but are still largely relevant.

Evernote is one of those products that is pretty much designed for the individual, not the enterprise. It’s for taking notes, pictures or any item that a community member wishes to post into a StreamWork activity.

Box.net provides the storage capabilties for documents that can be shared with different groups. Folders store documents that can be uploaded and shared within a real-time environment.

We spent some time using the StreamWork platform today. It is designed to drive business decisions. It’s not for playing around. This is definitely its differentiator. You can see as a collaborative service and the potential deeper SAP environment.

The story is coming together. The product is in its early stages. We’ll now see how it does fits with the rest of the vast SAP applicaton suite.

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