You know when you buy a new car, and all of a sudden you see the same model everywhere, as if everyone decided at the exact same moment to do the same thing you did? Of course it’s just your perspective, but it does feel that way.

I’m starting to feel the very same about social media and SAP. The concepts and language of Web 2.0 are popping up everywhere, and are being very prominently mentioned in very prominent speeches and statements by very prominent people.

This morning Léo Apotheker, Deputy CEO of SAP AG, gave a keynote presentation that covered a wide range of topics. Including the benefits of and SAP’s commitment to all of their communities, like the SAP Developer Network (SDN) and Business Process Expert (BPX) community, which were mentioned by name, which is a big deal (if you’re interested in finding out more, I did a podcast with two of the people responsible for these groups; it will be published first thing tomorrow) and particularly their Industry Value Networks (IVNs) Enterprise Services Community (ESC). Apotheker went so far as to state, emphatically, that SAP remains absolutely committed to the strategy they launched in 2003 – that is, the strategy of leveraging their ecosystem to gain competitive advantage (and, as I posted about yesterday, helping their customers do the same).

The other thing that struck me full in the face was the language he used. Words like “authenticity”, “transparency”, and “collaboration” were flying all over the place. Of course it’s one thing for an executive to use popular lingo to illustrate a point, and another to actually execute on that vision.

To return for a moment to the Industry Value Networks Enterprise Services Community, this model is absolutely fascinating to me. The way it works is this: industry leading firms that represent the full biodiversity of a vertical are invited to participate. The example that was used in the keynote was banking – 130 organizations have been collaborating on a banking-oriented service-oriented architecture (SOA – one of the many new acronyms I have learned over the last two days. It just means software that is created to meet a specific business requirement, i.e. if dinner were a business, a can opener would be SOA) within an SAP IVN ESC. The objective of this exercise is an industry-wide solution created within the SAP platform.

Apotheker went on to explain that, of course, someone needed to be the “custodian” of the results of the effort and that SAP had graciously stepped into the breach.

So let’s review:

1. Put together a group that accurately represents all aspects of a vertical
2. Give them a space to collaborate and a problem-solve to solve using your product
3. Take the results to market
4. Cream your competitors with a perfectly targeted proprietary product developed by experts within the industry you’re selling into.


  1. This is interesting because in my mind we are at the start of a major realignment of corporate structure.

    Vertical integration, which has meant economic power, is giving way to an ecological approach where choosing ones position in the ecology and leveraging relationships is how one secures value.

    In and ecology, social networking becomes more important because the core mechanism to define output and roles are trust and reputation not contractual definitions of responsibility.

    In part this is due to the increasing likelihood of groups collaborating at distance – giving advantage to social networkers who understand the nuances of online communication. Reputation is also important where teams assemble and disassemble quickly leaving little time for groups to gel through natural interaction.

    It is an interesting time because being nimble, especially around product / market definition and marketing strategy can reduce the old vertical integration advantage.

  2. Can you please explain the process of how the gel can be formed using a kool aid and a packacged of gelatine?

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