SAP hopes to boost StreamWork sales with OpenSocial

SAP adds support for the OpenSocial standard, and partners are following up

SAP has added support for the Google-backed OpenSocial programming standards for social applications to its StreamWork collaboration software, the company announced Wednesday.

Software that uses OpenSocial APIs (application programming interfaces) can be served up to StreamWork users through the application's "tools catalog," according to a statement.

Some OpenSocial-enabled applications are already available, including mind-mapping tools from CS Odessa and MindMeister; appointment scheduling service Doodle; Google Translate; and software development and collaboration tools from Atlassian, SAP said.

StreamWork, which was launched last year, has been dubbed a "virtual war room," in that it serves as a place where teams of users -- be it co-workers, customers, partners or a mix -- can brainstorm and solve problems.

By aggressively pursuing integration with third-party applications, SAP can broaden StreamWork's reach and relevance, in one observer's view.

"I think you can look at it this way. StreamWork is a canvas looking for a painting," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "OpenSocial gives it many portraits to display on the same canvas."

SAP is seeking partner applications based on feedback from StreamWork users, said Holly Simmons, senior director of on-demand marketing. It makes sense for SAP to extend StreamWork to the kinds of related software products customers are already using, she added.

Integrating them with StreamWork also cuts down on how much users must switch between applications, Simmons said.

The additional tools being made available by OpenSocial come at no extra charge to customers, as many of the vendors already have a "freemium" sales model, she said. However, paid versions will be available, she said.

A basic edition of StreamWork is available at no charge. Professional Edition starts at US$9 per user per month and adds features like advanced administration. Enterprise Edition pricing starts at $192 per user per year in the U.S. and features advanced security, auditing and provisioning. For pricing in other countries customers should contact SAP, according to its website.

Like any vendor, SAP faces a challenge cracking a crowded market populated by scads of newer collaboration-related offerings as well as broadly adopted platforms like Microsoft SharePoint.

And high-profile attempts at next-generation tools have stumbled. Citing lack of adoption, in August Google stopped development on its much-ballyhooed Wave application, with which StreamWork had integrated.

Simmons declined to reveal how many paying, in-production customers StreamWork has gained so far. But sales are "going really well," she said. Right now, most customers are small and medium-sized businesses, she said.

A typical customer might be a small consulting firm that wants to strategize and share documents with customers thousands of miles away, Simmons said.

Large enterprises are voicing "different types of requests when it comes to pain points," she said. For one, they want to help employees work more effectively with the software they already have.

The enterprise edition was only released in December, so SAP is "just ramping that up from a sales perspective," she said.

SAP has also deployed the tool internally, company-wide, Simmons added.

While eager to grow StreamWork's partner community, SAP has ambitious development plans of its own.

Customers should expect to see continued work to integrate StreamWork with SAP's range of business software, Simmons said. "People want to use this in a business context. We're not trying to create yet another productivity suite."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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