SAP Goes Disney: Project Harmony Social Engineering Initiative As promised here is an update regarding SAP’s social networking initiative.


Excerpt from / Dan Farber:

I met with Denis Browne, senior vice president of imagineering at SAP (SAP) Labs. He isn’t on loan from Disney (DIS), which came up with “imagineering” portmanteau in the 1950’s. Browne is tasked with imagining, developing and evangelizing Web 2.0 innovations-social networks, widgets, RSS, blogs, wikis, SMS, virtual worlds, etc.-across various SAP’s various product divisions and 39,300 employees in 50 countries.

However, SAP takes a very conservative approach to commercializing and mainstreaming the imagineering from Browne’s group.

Widgets and social networking aren’t exactly revolutionary at this point, but Browne is cautious about introducing these tools to employees and customers, “We have to be careful how we introduce new technology. We don’t want to create a headache for IT organizations.” Headache meaning it’s not managed, secure and compliance. Yet, widgets are social networks flooding through the back doors of enterprises.

Browne’s time horizon for introducing new technologies is 18 to 24 months, which is a snail’s pace compared to companies addressing consumer audiences.

Browne’s group has made progress in developing Harmony, a social network behind the firewall. “The $64 million question is will social networks work in the enterprise and what is the secret sauce,” Browne said regarding social networks. Harmony was first introduced on April 10 to SAP Labs users in North America. So far, 1,000 of the 1,700 SAP Labs employees have signed up for Harmony and 10 to 13 percent use it every day.

“We need to weave it into the fabric of all mission critical applications in the enterprise, so it’s relevant and available when they need,” Browne said. He gave an example of integrating social networks with SAP’s CRM and HR applications, allowing employees to have more control over what information is propagated about themselves in the organization. Harmony, for instance, can surface more color about the person and their expertise, creating an interaction between Harmony and the HR system, with end user and company created content.


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