SAP Jam: A Collaboration Solution Focused On Business Result

11/29/2017 08:18 am ET
Photo courtesy of Daisy Hernandez

Can your team go to one source for any customer information, questions, or discussions?

Effective communication has been rendered infinitely easier with technology. However, it has also become more segmented and, at times, even more confusing. Think on the multiple messaging apps, websites, and emails that are available today. Now think of how many are open on your computer at any given moment. Having one simple program where employees can catch up on a customer’s journey, ask questions and find answers, and collaborate effectively can help eliminate time waste. So what is the solution to streamlining a company’s communication?

Daisy Hernandez has held several leadership roles in business operations, engineering program management, and software development at companies like Oracle, BEA, Plumtree, Syndio. Today, she is the Global VP of Product Management for SAP Jam, SAP's cloud collaboration platform.

I recently interviewed Hernandez for the LEADx Leadership Podcast, where we discussed the goal of SAP Jam and the advantages it gives a modern workforce. (The interview below has been lightly edited for space and clarity.)

Kruse: Tell us about SAP Jam.

Hernandez: SAP Jam is SAP's collaboration solution. What we've done is really looked at how to apply collaboration capabilities in very specific business processes. I mean, that's what SAP is known for, the application company. The reason why we focused on that was because we wanted to make sure that if people are using our software to connect with others and get work done, that it was really actually driving results, not just collaboration for the sake of collaboration.

We looked at different lines of businesses: we looked at HR, we looked at sales, we looked at service, we looked at professional services, different lines of businesses as well as industries, where the nature of the work is naturally collaborative. I mean, you're having to interact with a set of people. There's information that you have to access. There's data that you have to look at, and there's feedback that you're looking to get from those experts. While there are many different forms of communication tools out there, not all of them lend itself to the point where you are trying to ensure that you are capturing all of that intellectual capital, right?

Especially since we're talking about how the workforce is changing, people change jobs all the time. You'd hate for all of that knowledge to just end up in somebody's inbox, that no one has access to after they leave. So nowadays, given the fact that people expect to learn differently, or access information on the go, because it's a very mobile, remote, or globally distributed workforce, we make sure that we're looking at things like learning, onboarding, account management, service resolutions, all of those things, and trying to embed collaboration into those processes to make it much easier for a company to transform themselves. Especially given how much companies have to evolve in order to keep up with their competitors.

Kruse: If we were working on a team together in HR or sales, how might we use SAP Jam?

Hernandez: Let's say I'm on the account team, and typically many of our accounts require several accounts team members. But they also need some information from some product experts, depending on the request for information, or proposal that they're getting from the customer and the requirement. As they go through the account cycle and engage with a customer in some private virtual workspace, they may also have an implementation partner that they have to bring in.

Wouldn't it be nice if the implementation partner already comes into a virtual workspace where they can catch up on all the requirements and all of the discussions that have already happened, versus having to—as most projects do—having to explain where we are with a project over and over again, as our project team members change in and out? That would be a great example of how we're using it to manage a customer, their requirements, their project, and you'll notice that you're having to collaborate not just internally with employees, but people that you work with on a day-to-day basis. You and I are having a discussion and we don't necessarily work for the same company, for example.

Another good use case is sales enablement. Especially given the size and the scale some of our customers are operating in. They have to figure out a cost effective way of distributing product knowledge to their sales reps because nowadays many of their customers probably know more about their products by researching on the internet, and looking at reviews. You want to make sure that your sales reps or your customer support reps, or anyone that's interacting with customers, they need to be at least as knowledgeable if not more so than your own customers.

Otherwise, what kind of service are you really providing your customers? That's a great way for them to share a lot of information, but also for the internal employees to ask questions, get feedback, and also make sure that questions are being asked and answered, versus having to repeat it over and over again. So, you're learning through osmosis by just seeing—because sometimes you don't know that you have a question until you see the question asked. So, you end up learning naturally as well, on the job. Those are just two of, I don't know, I could probably list like 30 million use cases for collaboration.

Kruse: What would the potholes be when an organization is trying to adopt something like SAP Jam? Might older generations resist this change?

Hernandez: With any tool actually, and there is a little bit of truth to it being generational in that they're used to using a certain tool. That being said, I've also seen it where everyone has their preference. So, it doesn't help if someone's on collaboration solution X, and another one's on collaboration solution Y. Sometimes I even see that within the same generation. There is some generational aspects, but sometimes it's also the war of which solution are you on? Which IM are you using? Are you on a consumer one? Are you using an internal sanctioned one? You end up having communication channel overload, and you can add email to that.

It's actually the reason why we focused on very specific scenarios and use cases, because it's no longer about the tool. Not to say that there aren't any adaption challenges or things like that, because there are with any tool, because it's a change, right? “I'm doing something different than I'm used to doing before.” The key is making sure that you explain why and how it helps them get their work done, which is why we spend an inordinate amount of time not just focusing on employee productivity, because that's a very vague way of saying everyone is getting the most out of their day.

It's whether or not that productivity leads towards business results where someone is able to accomplish something and get rewarded, or a department's able to reach a certain key performance indicators that line up to the corporate goals. Because I always say that the only thing that's viral for most people is getting their work done. If it helps me get my work done, I'm more likely to adopt whatever it is. If I can now make the most use of my time, because of work/life balance, that's exactly what people are trying to do is, "How can I be done with whatever task I have and be able to do that in a way where I have to work with other people that I'm not sitting together with?"

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Whether your team is remote or working within the same four walls, online communication and collaboration is important. Finding one simple platform for all of your information is imperative to save time and onboard employees quickly. But as with any new technology there is a learning curve, so consider a program well suited to the specific needs of your team, your company, and your goals.

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