SAP's 'virtual War Room' Tool Gets a Name: StreamWork

A Google Wave-like enterprise collaboration tool developed by SAP became generally available Tuesday and also gained an official name: StreamWork.

StreamWork has been described as a "virtual war room" for solving business problems in real time. Users employ widgets called "methods," such as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) matrix, to arrive at answers.

It can pull in data from a variety of sources, whether SAP's software or other platforms, such as Microsoft SharePoint.

Early StreamWork customers, partners and SAP executives discussed the cloud-based tool during a Web event Tuesday.

Three vendors have integrated their applications with StreamWork. They include document management vendors Evernote and Box.net, as well as Scribd, known for its social publishing platform.

A feature-limited version of StreamWork is available at no charge, with paid editions starting at US$9 per user per month.

The release is "the end of a beginning stage of a long journey," said David Meyer senior vice president at SAP, during a Web event Tuesday.

His statement had a layered meaning. SAP is regrouping after a period of upheaval marked by customer discontent over support fee hikes and the departure of top executives, including CEO Léo Apotheker. He has been replaced by two co-CEOs, Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, and the company has pledged to spark fresh software innovations moving forward.

StreamWork is "great example of a step on that road," Meyer said.

The application "will naturally extend the places you do work today," he added. "Today, you call a Web meeting or write diagrams on a white board and try to bring people into a room. StreamWork lets you solve that problem in situ."

Although SAP is no doubt eager to sell the tool to the many large enterprises it serves, a customer that participated in Tuesday's event resides on the startup end of the spectrum.

Tasting Table, a company that produces a daily e-mail report about dining trends around the U.S., is using StreamWork to solve day-to-day situations, such as what to name a new service, said CEO Geoff Bartakovics.

It has 14 employees distributed around the country, and "no official office," he said.

He showed how Tasting Table used a poll to vote on a particular issue. The method provided "a quick way not to have to have people e-mail stuff in," he said. "And on conference calls, voices get lost because people get talked over," he added.

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