SAP’s Social Playbook
Taylor Buley, 09.25.09, 7:10 PM ETBURLINGAME, Calif. –
For a social network, SAP is an awfully big software company.
The German company, with $17 billion in revenues, is, in fact, still a major business software company, but it’s getting increasingly hard to tell. On Sept. 29, SAP is expected to announce a new partnership with social network LinkedIn that expands the software giant’s social media offerings.
Under the SAP banner, the company currently runs a handful of portal sites for developers, students and experts in business processes. Each network has its own community, but all share a common technology platform with blogs, forums and private messaging. Users earn points for sharing information and helping out other community members.
The LinkedIn partnership will likely mean that any kudos a user earns from SAP could be automatically advertised on that person’s LinkedIn profile. Since SAP software is used by a lot of businesses, that could mean better job opportunities for the company’s most proficient community members.
“We’re the social networking service that has the kind of targeting they need,” says Linkedin Chief Executive Reid Hoffman.
SAP is no interloper in the social media space. In July the company was named an engagement “maven” in a study from Altimeter Group. The company’s score placed it third in the technology industry, behind only Microsoft and Dell.
Earlier this year, SAP pulled from the Facebook playbook too. Its forums were generating tons of helpful software code, but it was unclear who owned it and whether SAP could use it without infringing on anyone’s copyrights.
SAP’s legal department drafted an update to the terms of service, but the result was a user license agreement that Mark Yolton, who oversees SAP’s various communities, thought was overly conservative. “We were imaging a Facebook scenario for SAP,” he says. “That’s where we stepped in.”
Yolton’s team helped talk the legal department off the ledge. A deal was struck that would ultimately placate both parties, and the result was lauded by community members like Anne Kathrine Petteroe.
The LinkedIn partnership probably won’t cause as many brows to furrow in SAP’s legal department, but it will likely continue to tap customer knowledge. The company says its community platforms provide real-time market feedback and drive customer loyalty, up-selling opportunities and innovation.