I was happy to participate at the recent SAP TechEd US in the product roll-out of the new SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft, or SAP Gateway PAM. What is SAP Gateway PAM and why is it important? From a forthcoming white paper, some specific background:
Today’s labor force is different. Knowledge workers demand easy and transparent access to critical business information in order to complete their jobs. As such, line of business owners must take responsibility for their own employee retention. Business users, particularly the Millennial workers (generally considered those born between 1979 through 1999) who are making up more and more of the workforce, grew up learning how to play and fun was part of their learning pedagogy and educational upbringing. So line of business owners need to make work fun and easy and for this IT must be in partnership with the business. Whether it is via on-premise , on the cloud or mobile applications, business information must be quick and easy to access in order to complete day to day operational tasks, and done so in a secure, easy to maintain manner across the entire enterprise software landscape.
Knowledge workers also have a tendency to prefer to work in teams rather than alone. As such, performance management systems which place much of the emphasis on independent contributions will give way to more team-based and group performance approaches. Despite these trends, research has shown that line of business owners have a “hazy understanding” of what is needed to address this shift in worker business practices. This “lack of clarity” on the part of line of business owners is partly because knowledge work involves more diverse tasks than does production or clerical work which can be procedural and repetitive.
Since knowledge workers spend half their time on interactions, research suggests that companies should first explore the productivity barriers that impede these interactions. Common barriers may include lack of clearly defined expectations and outcomes, competing information sources for executing work tasks, and basic information accessibility issues. The work environment itself may pose a barrier, whereby overly structured processes and systems deter knowledge workers executing tasks in team-based environments.
With this shift in worker behavior, performance metrics are hard to come by in knowledge work, making it challenging to assess how effective particular individual knowledge workers may or may not be against poorly defined goals and objectives. Against this backdrop, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many companies settle for “scattershot investments” in staff development and corresponding IT systems and processes rather than to consider a cohesive environment that clearly supports knowledge worker behavior.
In recent years, many companies and research firms have taken a hard look at the need to increase accessibility of critical business information that exists in SAP Business Suite solutions and SAP data structures like HANA and BI across lines of business and functions in its many customer organizations. By studying the demand for information and the use modes of that information, SAP has determined that there is a “gap” between the accessibility and the use of business critical information. In an ideal situation, all workers should be directly connected to the SAP back system to access information directly and quickly in order to execute processes efficiently. However for the majority of SAP customers only 25% percent of the business users are directly working on the SAP systems. Given that over 400 million users access Microsoft Outlook.com email services and 1 billion Microsoft Office licenses currently exist worldwide, it is easy to see how a typical SAP customer would have business access to Microsoft based productivity like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Excel. In addition, these business users are increasing their day to day consumption of business critical information via mobile channels, with more and more information consumed via smart phones and other mobile devices.SAP believes that by 2018 over 50% of business users will access SAP business critical information via non-native user interface (UI) modes, further increasing the need for broad integration between SAP Business Suite and Microsoft environments.
In response to this need, SAP has developed a solution that provides an extended set of tools and connectors to easily create bi-directional communication between the SAP Business Suite stack and Microsoft platforms in a secure, development friendly approach. Called SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft (NetWeaver Gateway PAM), this new platform builds on the recent design improvements of the overall NetWeaver release with additional pre-configured extensions specifically for use in Microsoft application environments. Using .Net programming options via its Design Studio and open data (OData) protocols, developers already familiar with the Microsoft stack will be able to quickly develop new and enhance existing extensions from SAP Business Suite applications directly into Microsoft user environments via Gateway PAM. As such SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsot becomes a single, unified and fully secured platform to bring the SAP and Microsoft environments together in the lowest integration cost model developed to date.
SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft (SAP Gateway PAM) allows for easy integration for Microsoft productivity tools such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio. Through the use of pre-configured extensions into these applications, workers connect to critical business information stored in SAP Business Suite solutions in a low-cost, highly transparent manner.
Ning-Jing Gao from the SAP Information Worker Unit interviewed me on the SAP Technology channel after I had an opportunity to review the release materials. Watch the full YouTube interview, below. This is a next big step towards seamless UI and data integration between SAP Business Suite and Microsoft productivity applications.