Social Software: Midlife Crisis vs. Kid in a Suit

This morning I was reading some stuff from SAP StreamWork that provided a rundown of integration partners that its chosen to work with: Doodle, MindMeister, CS Odessa, Evernote, Altassian. And others such as Google Apps and Scribd.

I wonder if ~80% of the Fortune 500, SAPs customer base, will get these relationships.

I said to Todd Morrison at Tech Target a few weeks ago:

“I’ve always wondered why Streamworks is focused on seemingly lightweight offerings that most of its large enterprise customers don’t generally adopt,” said Sameer Patel, an analyst with The Sovos Group who follows social media applications.

Still, Patel credited SAP for its decision to incorporate Atlassian, which he said has “deep tentacles” inside many large software organizations. Activities like brainstorming and collaboration are important parts of decision making, he added.

Net net: Trying to be relevant / hip / cool, SAP is looking to get its mojo back in its old age.

Contrast this with what start up/ pure play social software vendors such as Jive, SocialText, NewsGator, Moxie, etc., often see:

As they get beyond the initial deployments that are general purpose in nature, their customers (and ours) are increasingly asking for a plethora of integration points for all sorts of data sources sitting inside mammoth ECM, ERP, BI and CRM systems. All in an effort to make social interaction, be that inside communities or on an activity stream, contextually richer.

Some social and collaboration vendors such as Socialcast, Qontext, SimplyBox (and others quietly in beta) are even creating engagement modules that sit right inside the system of record where critical processes are completed. Others provide the conversational glue between traditional call centers that deals with the external world and static employee intranets.

Net Net: The smaller guys are working on growing up.

I’m not criticizing either move. To be fair, SAP announced support for OpenSocial which re-affirms its commitment to nurturing the developer ecosystem and by all respected accounts, the (quite social) Sales On Demand product is the bees knees. In turn, the younger/startup software vendors have some work do to to blend process and social together – a fact that most will readily admit as they work very hard to make happen.

But I couldn’t help feel like we have one camp that’s having a mid life crisis and another that’s trying to muscle in on an adult conversation.

I found it entertaining. Life in the enterprise world would be a tad bit boring without either of these cases. That’s all there is to it : – )

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Larry Hawes
Larry Hawes

Great observation and statement of the situation! Everything that I'm hearing and seeing, plus my professional experience, tells me that the two camps will meet. Probably not in the next few months, more likely in a year or so. Things will really get interesting if Facebook tries to make an enterprise play. And keep an eye on what LinkedIn is already doing and intends to accomplish in this space.

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

These camps will certainly meet but how that happens is anyones game. Many of the large cos are choosing build over buy thus far. Thanks for the comment, Larry.


Having briefly used Streamwork, impressions: E2.0 pretender in E1.0 thinking and implementation. Not seeing much more than what (effectively) Yahoo Groups was 10 years ago.

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

Hi Paula, The product has come a long way since the first release IMO. Deeper ties into the BI suite means more contextual use which I always welcome.


  1. […] before more enterprise type software was somewhat surprising. Sameer Patel of the Sovos Group wrote in March: “Trying to be relevant / hip / cool, SAP is looking to get its mojo back in its old […]

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