So, Phil's project at SAP has finally launched!
When it was in beta, it was called "12sprints", which sounds like sort of a post-37signals Web 2.0 name for collaboration software that doesn't really do anything. If I were a customer, I'd just go with 37signals. Why? They're 25 higher!. Ba dum-tsh.
It's critical, when naming your product, not to put yourself down like that. Phil's team should have called it "74sprints" - that way, if somebody asked them about the name, they could at least claim to be twice as good as 37signals.
So, they had to drop "12sprints" and go with the new name, "SAP StreamWork". We've gone from a meaningless Web 2.0 name to a meaningless Enterprise name. SAP StreamWork. \ Well, I was just about to work on some streams, perhaps this software will be useful to me.
Let's look at the front page, shall we?
Now let's imagine that I have a big red marker, and I can draw RIGHT ON THAT WEBSITE. What will I draw? Well, this.
I want to know about this product. Let's extract every last juicy tidbit of information from the front page.
Looking at the whole page, the only words that seem to describe what the software actually does are "Share documents and data", and "Tools for brainstorming and decision-making". Mmm. It's collaboration software. Collaboration software? Never heard of it - they do, after all, claim to be "the first and only solution".
If we want to learn more, we're going to have to go on the tour that they've provided. \ It's on YouTube, how bad could it be?
It's a ... uh... Powerpoint Presentation. \ Without any voice. There's a guitar, though. GUITAR TUNES. We start with sweeping generalities and move to confusing, directionless screenshots.
Okay, I still have no idea what the hell it is that this software does. On to the features page!
I've taken the liberty of cutting out all of the business mumbo jumbo from this page, to make it a little bit more readable.
The first feature that they mention on the page is "notifications, activity streams, and action items". Oh, I'm sold. Just this morning, over an Egg McMuffin and a orange juice, I was saying to my friends, "do you know what my day is missing?".
"What?", they asked.
"Oh, man, you have got to get some activity streams, " my friends told me. "They are awesome. But at least you have action items, right? "
Shit. I am a dude without Action Items or Activity Streams. Do you see the trouble that I am in? Already, this software is right for me.
But it would be prudent to explore further. Next, we have integration with a variety of products that business people know how to use and are unwilling to part with. "Outlook Integration!", they will go. "I use Outlook all the time! Once I get the IT guys to configure it properly, it's pretty much the only software I know how to use, except for that Internet thing!" Okay, bam, bonus here.
The next point is that "all discussions, information, feedback, methods, and decisions are saved and can be shared or re-used." \ Okay, so I'm still not sure what it is that the product does, but I know that when it does it, it will do it with Action Streams, it will integrate with my Outlook, and it'll Save a Copy. Somehow, this combination of features will allow me to drive to a resolution. Excellent.
Okay, I'm not getting anywhere with this. On to the tutorials. Maybe they will tell me what this product does.
Creating an Activity. Oh, maybe we will find out what an Activity is! Apparetly, an Activity aids in the process of decision-making by:
- Eliminating long, hard-to-follow e-mail threads. You know, like Gmail. Or properly configured mailing lists. Or Google Groups. Or IRC.
- Providing a workspace conducive to collaborative decision making. Have you tried open spaces and whiteboards?
- Giving the user powerful tools that guide the decision-making process. You mean, like, common sense?
And then, what happens afterwards is some sort of ... thing. The part of my brain that says 'couldn't this all just be resolved with a discussion?' would likely shut down if I watched any more of these tutorials.
Okay, I give up, I can't figure out what the heck this product is good for. Heck, I could probably build better collaboration software myself - it'd need to be easy, flexible, well-understood by developers, synchronous to allow for discussion, group-inclusive, and keep a record of past discussions. You know, like IRC with a decent logger.