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holger_stumm2
Active Contributor

EP - Portal is the enterprise way to web 2.0

SAP Enterprise portal has found its way into a lot of SAP-Installations. But most of the companies missed the potential to unlock the power of communication with their users and to use it as a prime source for their Intranet. Slowly, I can see a discussion starting around the principal possibilities to unlock the power of a web 2.0 for the enterprise.

Recently, after a year of work in a successful PI-Project, I had a chance to hold a seminar in SAP Enterprise Portal for a one of Europe’s largest university hospitals. It was a three day seminar for portal administrators and managers, providing an overview, hands-on and feature discussion and a great welcome to brush up on my Portal project history.

One of the chapters in the seminar that was sparkling a great discussion was about SAP Enterprise Portal as a central intranet portal with web 2.0 facilities and integration of social web components. (There is a video in preparation, to be published soon)

Enterprise Portal is more than a stack of Java application

For most of the companies, SAP Enterprise Portal (EP) is merely a place for accessing SAP functionality like ESS, SRM or Web Dynpro applications. And for applications with Knowledge Manager or Web Dynpro Composer, the focus is even dimmer. In a common view, Microsoft Sharepoint is a more prime source for file sharing and Enterprise Content Providing than SAP.

I have done a lot of SAP Portal work in the past and quite some bit of seminars around EP. Most of the companies are using it for SAP ESS access and only some of them have an integration of their Intranet with their Enterprise Portal and only one company (or a part of that company) has used it for integrated intranet interaction with a corporate communication strategy.

From a marketing point-of-view, an Internet page is always a perfect chance for one-on-one communication, as if a visitor steps up to an information point and starts to talk. It is considered "prime time" for interaction.

Opportunity missed to communicate with your employees

I think this is a big waste of a great opportunity. SAP Enterprise can do a lot more in terms of content, communication, Intranet integration and Social Media providing. Technologies like Flash Islands, Visual Composer and Knowledge Manager Repositories are the technologies to unlock the potential as a complete Intranet. Integration of large scale content authoring systems like Reddot or FirstSpirit can close the gap to content systems.

The perfect homepage

Let me take the example of a personalized homepage in a company’s intranet. It can have Microsoft Active Directory Integration via Cerberus and integrate SSO with the Windows Logon. It has a personalized news section with news of the company. You don’t have a newsroom group? There are a lot of content providers who are specialized in providing dedicated corporate news for a reasonable fee.  When you see a consultant from SAP, have a look at their welcome page.

It should have personalized information about his or her department, travel management and spend management. It should offer actual training, online or offline. It should have actual videos of corporate management with actual messages. When everybody has a web cam at his desk, video conferencing in the corporation would be a low hanging fruit.

And it should have (of course) an operational section with personalized access to the current work like pending work and transactions in SAP, BI-reports and dashboards, Self Services like ESS or SRM and any other Netweaver-System.

Intergration of social web 2.0

Integration of facebook, twitter and linkedin or xing would be another easy one. But I would rather recommend corresponding intranet-solution, managed and moderated by the IT  . You could a add an internal facebook clone to your SAP HCM skill management and HCM master record. Besides the personal skill management, with the linked relations you can identify cluster of knowledge inside your company to optimize skill providing to your enterprise or to yopur customers.

All of these elements are regular projects with no extraordinary price tag. They can all be done in a reasonable timeframe. You don’t even have to do it “Big Bang”, the web is always about slow evolution. And for the revenue, if you consider optimization of communication, skill, relation management and HCM management can all be tagged with a dollar amount.

Re-Evaluate!

SAP Portal is underrated. Now I can hear all arguments: To cumbersome, too Java, too big, too SAP-centric. But if you look at a typical Sharepoint-Implementation, a Reddot-Implementation or else: You will hear the same argues different flavors.  All technologies have pros and cons and you should pick your (one) strategic core technology.

SAP Portal as such a core technology that can deliver. You just need some ideas, visions and projects to get your perfect intranet.

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