Social ERP Emerges, Transforms the Way People Work (Part 2)

Technological Evaluation Centers  11/28/2013

Ted Rohm

In part one of this series, we looked at how and why social media capabilities are impacting enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. We looked at the benefits of social media in ERP, social capabilities and features, and also pointed out that user adoption and corporate governance must be considered when rolling out these tools. This second post provides an in-depth look at the different approaches major ERP vendors have taken to integrate social capabilities into their ERP systems and provides some tips for users looking for a social ERP system.

SAP—SAP may have started a little behind the curve, but it has quickly caught up to and even surpassed the competition in its adoption of social media capabilities. SAP has been applying a huge amount of energy into its social collaboration solution, SAP Jam, over the past year. SAP’s social strategy is built on three tenants:

  1. It needs to be where you do your work,
  2. it needs to be part of your business processes to drive business results, and
  3. it needs to be one foundation for all social collaboration across your business and processes.

That one foundation for social at SAP is Jam. In the past year alone, there have been four major releases of the SAP Jam product. SAP is definitely putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to not only a social media strategy, but also social media execution.

Oracle—The Oracle Social Network (OSN) is the heart of social collaboration in the cloud for Oracle. OSN provides all the social capabilities that enable businesses to be more productive when using Oracle cloud solutions including the Sales, Marketing, Social, and Service Cloud solutions. OSN is also pre-integrated with the Oracle Fusion applications. The Oracle Social Network integrated with Oracle Cloud applications provide one of the most complete cloud customer experiences on the market.

With respect to Oracle’s on-premise ERP solutions (E-Business Suite, Peoplesoft, and JD Edwards), Oracle is taking the approach that the on-premise solutions will coexist with the line of business–focused cloud applications including OSN. So, although the on-premise ERP solutions can be integrated with OSN or other private and public social networking solutions, Oracle has not committed to a single social tool for its lineup of on-premise ERP solutions.

Microsoft—The Microsoft acquisition of Yammer in 2012 gave it one of the strongest social networking assets in the marketplace. Microsoft recently announced a clear picture of how social media capabilities (and other Microsoft technologies) will be rolled into the Dynamics CRM product to provide a complete set of social capabilities. Microsoft also entered into an alliance with InsideView, which provides social intelligence capabilities. Microsoft provides social networking integrations with its ERP solutions (Dynamics AX, Dynamics Nav, and Dynamics GP); however, like Oracle, it has not clearly defined how these social assets will be rolled into the ERP solutions.

Infor—Infor made huge strides across all of its major ERP systems with the introduction of Ming.le into the Infor 10x suite capabilities. Ming.le, formally announced in the spring of 2013, is part of Infor 10x, which provides major advancements across the entire suite of applications. Ming.le was more than two years in the making and provides the collaborative hub for collaborating across the Infor product suite. Unlike other vendors that have been slow to bring the collaborative capabilities across their product offerings, Infor Ming.le is now available and fully integrated with the entire lineup of top ERP solutions from Infor, including LN, Syteline, M3, Visual, XA, LX, and System21.

Yunano and Atos—The APAC powerhouse Yunano (which purports to have a user base of 1.5 million) is also diving headfirst into social collaboration via its partnership with Atos. The telling quote from Thierry Breton, chief executive officer (CEO) of Atos, is that “our ambition is to be a zero e-mail company within 3 years.” It is quite ambitious to state that the use of e-mail will be eliminated as a communication tool, but the Atos reports that 60,000 employees with more than 5,000 communities are currently on the blueKiwi product.

IFS—As part of its latest release, IFS Applications 8, IFS has chosen to build its own embedded social conversations and wikis functionality into its system. IFS also has added a tool called IFS Communicator, which behaves like Skype and MSN, allowing you to communicate with people not only inside the company, but also outside of the company such as, say, your supplier or customer.

Deltek—Deltek has also seen the need to incorporate social networking and collaboration capabilities across its product suite and recently released Kona Business. Jeff Eckerle, senior product director, Kona (along with Scott Defusco, VP of product strategy and management for Kona) saw this need for Deltek and its customers and convinced company management to allow them to go ahead with the development of a social collaboration tool in 2011. Kona Business has been developed entirely in-house as a tool that will help not only Deltek customers solve project-based business needs, but also users manage their personal lives. Kona Business was released only this year and there are already 100 companies signed up. Deltek is right on target with its Kona Business solution and direction.

NetSuite—NetSuite was quietly ahead of the curve with its SuiteSocial offering, which was released in early 2011. SuiteSocial is available to all NetSuite users as a free SuiteApp installation. SuiteSocial is natively integrated within the NetSuite ERP solutions. SuiteSocial allows NetSuite users to seamlessly create collaborative discussions and follow relevant system records, such as a customer, an order, or a manufacturing order. And unlike some other social solutions that are tacked on to the ERP solution and almost take over the user interface, SuiteSocial lives unobtrusively alongside the NetSuite solutions and doesn’t take over users’ workspace.

Sage—Sage is also focusing on providing the front office with social capabilities. Sage CRM 7.2 improves collaboration among sales, advertising, and customer service teams, which in turn will lead to better productivity. The technology is designed to provide seamless, real-time access across different platforms, making it ideal for small and medium-sized businesses. It also includes a social customer relationship management (CRM) suite that can analyze the vast amounts of data produced by social media sites. Sage is also helping businesses to analyze social media data with analytics tools. and The Salesforce platform—The Salesforce platform and growing solution ecosystem on the Saleforce platform must be considered when talking about the impact and importance of social collaboration in the ERP market. The combination of,, and any one of the manufacturing solutions integrated with the platform, e.g., Rootstock or Kenandy, also provide a company with a full ERP solution. Salesforce Chatter is the social collaboration tool of choice for Salesforce customers.

Questions and Tips on Choosing Social ERP

It’s obvious that social collaboration is here to stay and that all major ERP providers are embracing the movement toward a more collaborative environment with the ERP system remaining at the core. The lineup here shows that the majority of the ERP solution providers are embracing social media and rolling the capabilities into their solutions.

When looking for a social ERP system for your organizations it may useful to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is your ERP system having trouble communicating with people in your organization?
  2. Is your ERP system not facilitating communications throughout your organization?
  3. Does your ERP system seem to be inconsiderate of others who use it or maybe even self-centered?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your ERP system may be asocial or even downright antisocial.

Many ERP vendors are currently offering their social collaboration solutions as paid add-ons to their customers or as part of an upgrade to the solution; some other vendors offer the tools free of charge. It’s best to contact your vendor to get pricing and availability details; however, if your provider wants to charge a big fee to add a little collaboration, don’t be too willing to open up the checkbook just yet. In 2-3 years’ time, most, if not all ERP solution providers will be forced to offer basic social collaboration capabilities as part of their base product pricing.

In the next set of posts, we’ll go into further detail on what the ERP vendors are offering and how they differentiate themselves in the marketplace.




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