In Acquiring Sitrion, NewsGator Hopes to Make the Mundane More Fun
Sitrion exposes SAP processes by presenting them in an employee's everyday work environment.
This week, enterprise social networking software developer NewsGator announced its acquisition of Sitrion, a developer of third-party software designed to improve the SAP experience for casual users in SharePoint. Sitrion exposes SAP processes by presenting them in an employee's everyday work environment, on a mobile device or via the cloud to a Mac or PC.
With the acquisition, NewsGator is expanding its people-centric social environment to include data-driven business processes. The benefits are two-fold:
1. Increasing usage of NewsGator throughout the organization. Companies have been slow to adopt enterprise social networking applications and services--especially across the business, despite the fact that ESN is and should be considered a horizontal application. Even companies that have purchased and deployed the technology often limit it to pockets of users, based on line-of-business, regional or other needs. But social software requires critical mass to really take off; by integrating NewsGator into the key business processes powered by SAP, the vendor hopes to encourage use--and see more adoption of its non-SAP-related capabilities, too.
2. Improving the value of ESN. Today, enterprise social is focused on people. But most companies measure performance based on data, and business processes are almost all related to very specific and often automated action. By integrating social communications with those processes, NewsGator hopes to show the bean counters that there is real, measurable value to the technology, by shrinking cycle times, eliminating down time, and improving outcomes.
In a call regarding the announcement, NewsGator CEO Daniel Kraft told me that business-process improvement is all about managing the exceptions. He notes that in a system like SAP, 90% of requests are approved--but only because employees do the legwork ahead of time to ensure their requests will, in fact, get the desired sign off. They reach out to the relevant manager in advance of filing the necessary "paperwork" in the system, explaining any exceptions or special requests ahead of time. To the casual observer, it may look like everything is automated and streamlined, but that is not the case: the prep time--which typically involves a series of emails, IMs and/or phone calls--can eat up a lot of time and resources without anyone even knowing about it. Likewise, genuine exceptions--say, when a sales person is sitting in front of a client and needs immediate approval to increase a discount or speed delivery--require person-to-person interaction, rather than automated data discovery.
That's where ESN comes in. It improves and streamlines many of the interactions that take up the largest chunk of resources in completing business processes--often under the radar, but still sucking up time and energy. NewsGator envisions its new acquisition as one that will allow employees and their managers to handle all the prep work and exceptions within the system itself, on a social level--and since the companies had already partnered up before the acquisition, much of the programming has already been done. Users can also take advantage of analytics applied to both systems to see, for instance, when employees are likely to request vacation (and prepare accordingly), or whether someone is ready for a promotion or, perhaps, a conversation with HR.
Still, even Kraft admits it's not all about work. By adding ESN into an application like SAP, he suggests, traditionally mundane processes (T&Es, anyone?) can actually be fun.