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It’s been an exciting journey since SAP announced its plan to acquire datango AG’s assets in January 2012. There was a whirlwind of activities in a very short period of time, which in retrospect seem almost like a blur: the acquisition was finalized in February; all steps to ensure the product complied with SAP software standards (e.g. security, third-party, Open Source) were swiftly completed; and then in March, SAP Education was already able to sell the new product, rebranded as SAP Workforce Performance Builder, to customers. We achieved this in record time: what is typically a three to six month process we turned around in just four weeks! Speed was the byword then, and we’re still moving full steam ahead now. So I think it’s worth taking a pause for a moment to revisit the rationale behind the acquisition before I dive into where we’re heading with this offering.

With the acquisition of ‘datango’, SAP Education got the leading product in the space of workforce enablement and end-user performance optimizations. Now with SAP Workforce Performance Builder, we have a strategically important product that doesn’t just handle the one-off training of end-users prior to project go-live, but a solution that really helps our customers throughout their entire journey of workforce enablement, support, and ongoing performance improvement.

In recent years, the area of workforce enablement was becoming increasingly critical not only for the success of SAP software deployment and implementation projects, but also for the ongoing adoption of our software. Our customers were asking us for a leading product that had excellent UI recognition capabilities - especially with SAP UIs - and that would eventually integrate well with other SAP products, such as SAP Solution Manager and SAP Learning Solution.  To achieve this in a sustainable way, it became clear to us that we needed to own such an asset ourselves.


Enhancing the Offering

In addition to ensuring SAP product standard compliance, SAP Education has made some further enhancements to the product in the short term. When we acquired ‘datango’, the UI was only available in English, French, German, and Spanish. To ensure that SAP’s broad international customer base could use the product, we have since translated SAP Workforce Performance Builder into 17 additional languages: Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Thai, Vietnamese.

We have also developed a comprehensive product roadmap in close collaboration with our Development, Product Management, Solution Management, and Field organizations. Thanks to this roadmap, our customers can chart the path forward for SAP Workforce Performance Builder and know exactly what will come with the Support Package 3 later this year, as well as the next release of SAP Workforce Performance Builder 9.2 at the end of Q1 2013.

Since its official introduction to the market in March 2012, we have seen very positive uptake of SAP Workforce Performance Builder among our customers. Over 60 deals have been signed in the first four months. I think that attests to the fact that customers see the value in the product. These customers are in implementation now, and we look forward to gathering their feedback when they go live in Q3.

Easy to Implement, Easy to Use

Based on the many customer conversations and demos we’ve given, we can see a few aspects which customers seem to like most about SAP Workforce Performance Builder. One is the ease of use compared to other tools or products in this space. SAP Workforce Performance Builder makes it so easy and fun to capture and produce knowledge, and roll it out to customers’ workforce.

There’s a very easy to use component in SAP Workforce Performance Builder called the Instant Producer, which is especially appreciated by subject matter experts at the customer side who are not necessarily experts in authoring tools. This component enables anybody to capture knowledge - and I do mean anybody. Even my grandmother could record content with the Instant Producer!  Another feature which customers appreciate is automatic translation. SAP Workforce Performance Builder comes with 38 “project languages” out of the box. All you need to do is just press a button and it translates the content into the target language. And of course, folks can easily edit recorded content by utilizing single sourcing, WYSIWYG editing, automated functionalities, highly flexible configuration and much more. Another key point is the ease of implementation; you can install SAP Workforce Performance Builder, create and then publish the very first content in less than five minutes. Both the total cost of implementation (TCI) and the total cost of ownership (TCO) are significantly lower than the average across the industry.

Faster Process Execution through Just-in-time Learning

Another important point I’d like to highlight about the product is that it offers glimpse into the next generation of informal learning. With the Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS) functionality provided by the Navigator component that it offers today, SAP Workforce Performance Builder is already covering the most important context-sensitive (in-application) use cases, such as “process guidance”, “content delivery” and “compliance management”.

At the same time, this is one of the important spaces where we’ll continue to focus our development efforts for the future. EPSS places SAP Education squarely in the area of micro-learning or just-in-time learning. For example, step-by-step process guidance in the live system proactively prevents a user from getting stuck in long and complex processes. Navigator can also recommend valid values for critical fields, provide examples of possible entries for fields, forms, and tables, or directly message the user regarding mandatory fields, guidelines and important data relationships.

Representative use cases include change or compliance management, whereby changed or new fields can be pointed out by the Navigator and explained directly in-process and in-context of the respective user. These are just a few examples which should help convey the new kind of in-application enablement and support that SAP Workforce Performance Builder allows customers to provide to their end-users.

Where We’re Heading Next

This idea of very context-sensitive micro-learning or micro-provisioning of knowledge and competence is where I see this whole space heading in the future. When looking at comparable tools in the market today, SAP Workforce Performance Builder offers the most comprehensive solution in this space across the entire spectrum: from classic e-learning development over blended learning and non-IT trainings to advanced EPSS.

I have sung the praises of SAP Workforce Performance Builder in this blog because I am a true and passionate believer in its ability to deliver on its promise for our customers. But we are by no means resting on our laurels here. For a detailed look at what’s ahead, take a look at the product roadmap I’ve linked to below. And feel free to share your comments and questions with me right here in SCN!

Please see these useful resources for more information about SAP Workforce Performance Builder: