and SAP: Corralling the Social Cloud for Business Purposes

Includes: CRM, SAP
by: Jeffrey M. Kaplan (NYSE:CRM) unveiled a series of important enhancements to its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) service-desk management capabilities this past week. The enhancements were aimed at helping businesses more effectively track and respond to the escalating volume of data feeds from Facebook and Twitter.

The company’s Service Cloud 3.0 announcement coincided with its CloudForce 2011 event at the Javits Center in NYC, in the backyard of ‘Corporate America’, the financial services sector and the traditional media world. All to maximize its attention.

The new round of enhancements were primarily focused on enabling users of’s service-desk management platform to better monitor Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as track their response to comments, complaints and other service requests via these increasingly important social networks. made sure to brand each feature as a separate offer to ensure it gained as much attention as possible, including for Facebook and for Twitter.

The new monitoring capabilities are actually enabled by a third-party company, called Radian6, which is now selling its solution on’s AppExchange as well. By coincidence, people I know at SAP also use Radian6 to track Facebook and Twitter data feeds. So, don’t be surprised to see Radian6 acquired quickly by one of the two companies if Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) or another suitor doesn’t swoop in sooner.

Despite the fact that most of the enhancements unveiled by this week won’t be available for another quarter or two, its announcement overshadowed SAP’s (NYSE:SAP) own attempt to assert itself in the SaaS and social networking arena by previewing a new portfolio of on-demand business applications at CeBit. This was aimed at responding to’s growing success and the overall acceptance of SaaS/Cloud-based alternatives to legacy, on-premise applications.

I had an opportunity to get a private briefing re: SAP’s new offerings before this past week’s announcement (as I did for’s Service Cloud 3.0 announcement) and was impressed with their functional and social networking capabilities, as well as the company’s intensifying efforts to deliver cost-effective SaaS solutions. However, it still has a long way to go to convince customers and the broader marketplace that it can succeed in the SaaS marketplace after numerous false-starts.

Meanwhile, isn’t taking its foot off the gas pedal as it extends its lead as an innovator, and market/mindshare leader.

Disclosure: and SAP are THINKstrategies clients.