I am very pleased to announce my next book project: The Living Enterprise: How SAP built a multibillion dollar ecosystem; what it learned and why your business should care.” This is a working title and may be tweaked, so let me know what you think.
I have two co-authors: Zia Yusuf who was EVP of SAP's Global Ecosystem and Partner Group until November and Mark Yolton, SVP responsible for SAP's online communities. I'm just the writer/researcher. This is really more their story and the story of the ecosystem group.
But much more than SAP itself, The Living Enterprise [TLE] is the story of how SAP's 7000 partners and 86,000 corporate customers benefit from SAP's integration of social networks with a traditional partner program into an enterprise ecosystem.
The result has been an answer to social media's most persistent business question: "Where's the money?" SAP's ecosystem according to independent analysts has a marketplace value of $70 billion to $90 billion for the companies represented by two million users of the company's social networks.
There's the money.When I started talking with Mark and Zia last September, I was concerned with the term enterprise ecosystem. It sounded to me like the sort of "corpspeak" that Scoble and I admonished in Naked Conversations. At first it seemed to me, the term is a cliche designed by marketers to modernize an old-fashioned large company networks.
That may be true elsewhere, but not so at SAP I have learned. SAP looks at its enterprise ecosystem through the same prism as you would look at a biological ecosystem, where objects and living things interact and depend on each other to survive or thrive. Even a tiny change in an obscure part of an ecosystem can have the same impact on larger participants as a polar bear slipping off a sheet of melting ice has on eventual water level in New York City.
Except with the internet as the ocean, it all happens much, much faster when online social networks bloodlines dynamically circulation information and ideas throughout the enterprise ecosystem with great speed.
Before all this happened, SAP felt many of the dilemmas that most modern companies are experiencing. If social media champions are shouting that the company should not be in command and control of it's own ecosystem, just who should be. And for that matter, if SAP was not to dominate, just what was it's new role?
It took a lot of time and effort to find its own series of answers. The first was replace itself at the center of its own ecosystem with its customers. This was not altruism, it was the realization that the health of SAP and its business partners depended on the health of its customers at least as much as the reverse.
As to the question of what role SAP should assume once it stepped out of the center, Zia Yusuf came up with a new metaphor, that of the symphony orchestra conductor.
But first, I am looking for your help. I like to think that my books are different from other business books because I take the story-teller's perspective and because I use my blog and Twitter for a good deal of crowd sourcing.
Later, of course, I'll use my social media tools to ask your help in promoting the book. But right now, I'm looking for juicy stories about SAP and for that matter other enterprise social networks and ecosystems.
If you are among SAP's two million social network users, please share your experience with me--whether it was wonderful or awful. My books come alive with the user stories much more than the company stories that provide the framework.If you have an experience in social nets at Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce, Oracle or any other enterprise inside or out of the tech sector please let me know.
Because of my co-authors and SAP's commitment to the project, TLE has a solid foundation, but it will be the stories that come from elsewhere that will make this book as special as we hope it will be.
Also, please keep in mind that I appreciate tough love. If you think this idea is brilliant, that inflates my ego. If you think we are on the wrong track, then we will be greatly appreciative of you setting us straight.