Social Media at SAP

    February 7, 2006

Live and un-cut notes at the Enterprise Software Summit.

Jeff Nolan starts by pointing out what he blogged about the event yesterday was on Memeorandum.

Duopoly between SAP and Oracles. Looked at political campaigns. People like Ross vs. people like Jeff, not easily swayed to cross party lines. Looked at the DoD Information Operations Roadmap. To win a war it was essential to propogate a message, manipulate media, drive citizen commentary and decentralize internal operations so field officers had authority on message. We realized you can no longer control the message.

Talks about Richard Edleman’s Me2 Revolution. People don’t trust institutions, they look to peers, user reviews. Trust Barometer surveys consumers in 11 countries. In 6/11, they found that peers ranked higher in trust and authorities than institutions. This is a pervasive change that have widespread impact.

Phil said bloggers have inherent credibility because they are not paid and are not viewed as insiders. Media is viewed as part of the game.

Was with SAP Ventures for 8 years, 73 investments. Recently took oever as head of strategy for our Competitive Office. Got interested in blogs three years ago. Now working on new methods for competition, distruptive non-linear strategy. Initial challenges are “How do I use social media to expeand and improve SAP’s reach, both internally and externally.”

Social meadia enables content, choice and conversations. No way I will ever get through all my email, stuff gets forgotten and SAP is still an email culture.

This stuff is being adopted. “45% of the largest 1,000 publicly held companies in north america have blogs or plan to start them sometime this year” Yahoo!, April 2005.

Biggest challenge internally is changing culture, not the infrastructure. Now we have Apollo Blogs, set up in a couple weeks. Finding people who have voice, willing to communicate, is the challenge. People have to be conversational, not formal. If you write like a press release people will think it is a press release. One of the reasons I havbe been able to susstain 3 years of blogging is that I write like I speak. I don’t have a lot of time in my day. If I treated it formally it would take two weeks to get a post out. Boundryless information — there is far too much information that is labeled as confidential, isn’t. We start with the assumption that nothing is confidential until after a review process.

We published our product roadmap. I packaged it up and sent it to the VP of Engineering at Oracle and said this is what SAP is going to do, we are still going to beat you and out execute you.

Old way of a daily email newsletter for competitive intelligence. You have to read the email and open and read the attatchments, two steps too many. I have 52 analysts who do competitive intelligence, but have hundreds of employees reading the same material who can share on a blog out of their own interest. Then you get commentary.

We rolled it out quietly, not sure how well the server can currently scale. Get an email from a hedge fund manager who covers SAP. He said, I hear these Apollo Blogs are popping up all over the place. Word of mouth marketing propogates the blogs. Oracle runs a misleading ad, we dissect it. They ran one yesterday in the WSJ and by 10 am EST they had the ad dissected and a Powerpoint available for download by the field. Don’t have to do an email blast out to 15k people anymore.

One critism of public blogs is that people end up writing about the same things. If you limit your scope of reading that may be an effect for you. But RSS lets you aggregate your own way. Internally this isn’t such a problem. Have competitive news, industry tactics, defense industry and other topical blogs. The Defense Daily blog stays pretty focused on the vertical. Product blogs like CRM Daily.

RSS poses a bit of a challenge for companies that do not have an RSS Reader as part of their desktop model. Could do it myself, but would have a training and support burden. Microsoft IE7 will provide some solution. I used Firefox, but others don’t. IE7 works well for 10-30 subscriptions. RSS will change the way companies will communicate internally.

We use Socialtext in a bunch of business units. Ross may have coined the term SAPedia. An SAP Encyclopedia on products, people, technologies. My team is using them for extended project management. Shows his Apollo Wiki. Shows his project page with all the things his team is working on. Shows how to email to a wiki to create or update a page. Lets me take constantly streaming information and share it with a group. Uses Categories (tags) effectively. Socialtext lets you blog your wikis as an output — which allows people in my chain of command and the rest of the company see what we are working on. Eliminates the need for status reporting, reduces his need for useless paperwork, self service resource.

Social media strategy is embodying blogs, wikis and search. How do you deal with bloggers? You can’t manage them. People blog for personal and social reasons.

The Necessary Elements of an External Social Media Strategy

1. Lay down core building blogs

1. Management commitment to guid use and involvement with social media

2. Centralized social media platform on corporate site to aggregate content

3. RSS/Atom feed distribution

2. Develop External Relationships

1. Community groups

2. Federated blog network (3rd party bloggers, citizen journalists, etc.)

3. Drive content awareness

1. Executive and employee blogs

2. Podcasts

Looked at who is blogging about enterprise software, then evaluated who is actually influential. Jeff’s blog is four times more influential than SAP’s website. Using Umbria for blog analytics, intellisynch, Technorati conversation tracking. Interesting tools let you put some intelligence into this.

Then they called up the influential bloggers. Offered some information access. 100% of people contacted, just 30 blogs, all said they wanted to have further information on a regular basis. Only deal is that we are not going to manage you. If you write something negative about SAP, the first thing is, is it true? If it is, then we may even get you more access for the issue. Just give us the opportunity to respond.

The best way to deal with people that are truly negative on SAP is to engage them. Stick to the facts, engage in conversation, perhaps nobody wins the debate, but that’s okay. Nick Carr writes a lot of negative stuff on SAP. On the one hand, I think he has an axe to grind with the industry, but I haven’t chosen to engage him because if I did it in the way I want to, I’m not sure it would reflect positively on SAP.

Moved on this project in October. Takes time to change the course of your battleship. Decentralizing the chain to let people use their judgement has challenges. Legal challenge, this may violate a code of conduct. Went from having a 120 day timeframe to about a year to fully get traction. They had to modify the code of conduct to enable blogging. Be prepared to take the bad with the good, if we “manage” message we will be ignored.

I think executive blogs are a waste of time. We have them. Shai Agassi writes his own, others leverage their staff so they are not particularly credible. I would like to think that CEOs would have better things to do with their time, but some like Jonathan Schwartz pull it off. The untapped goldmine is the level of executives that are direct reports to the CEO who are more tactical, tend to be credible, give them a voice.

Disclosure: SAP is an investor in my company, Socialtext.

Ross Mayfield is CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, an emerging provider of Enterprise Social Software that dramatically increases group productivity and develops a group memory.

He also writes Ross Mayfield’s Weblog which focuses on markets, technology and musings.