Collaborating in the cloud has opened up a whole new world in business, especially with so many now working mobile or virtually. Gone are the days of time lags when attempting to get your hands on the information you need, right here, right now. Cloud collaboration permits access to this information immediately and it allows everyone to be on the same page, in real time, and this can now even include clients and customers. There’s a lot going on in the cloud and Daisy Hernandez of SAP StreamWork joins Brent Leary to discuss the benefits.
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Small Business Trends: We are going to talk a little bit about the cloud and collaboration, but before we do that can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Daisy Hernandez: Sure, currently I run the business strategy for SAP Streamwork.
Prior to being with SAP, I have come from Oracle which acquired BEA, which acquired Plumtree. My primary responsibility is really around collaborations suite, collaborative business software and how to bring people together in terms of gaining information that they need and driving productivity.
Small Business Trends: How has the cloud changed collaboration from just a few short years ago?
Daisy Hernandez: Certainly one of the powers of being in the cloud is the ability to extend your social network beyond just the company walls. Every day we think of working with our colleagues, but in actuality, we work with partners, vendors and customers all the time. A lot of the interactions are collaborative in nature, trying to evaluate an RFP (request for proposal) for a customer or trying to close a deal.
Small Business Trends: When most people think about the cloud and collaboration they tend to focus on the external side of customer/company engagement. Do you think they take full advantage the other benefits of the cloud?
Daisy Hernandez: Certainly customer acquisition is very important and one style of collaboration in the cloud. But collaboration is really built into almost every single business process that you can think of.
Imagine a world where you are able to now bring data from all of these customers that you are talking to and now drive business processes internally by having collaborative discussions around how can we turn around this market, or how can we improve our top line and make concrete decisions with your colleagues.
Small Business Trends: Are there some particular areas in the organization that you see have the biggest or quickest benefit?
Daisy Hernandez: Sure, right now at SAP we are certainly using that feature to engage with some of the customers. The professional services organization definitely can leverage the collaborative nature of being able to engage with the customer throughout the life cycle of the project or the engagement.
Having everyone on the same page as far as where they are on the project and any issues they can address quickly. Because of the way the application triggers notification to people, making sure they are still engaged with that particular project.
The reason why they are able to do this with the customer is because in the cloud, the customer can easily join in the activity space they are using to handle that kind of engagement.
Small Business Trends: What kind of organizational/culture changes does a company need to do in order to take advantage of this kind of collaborative?
Daisy Hernandez: The most important company cultural change is openness and transparency. There has to be a willingness to hold yourselves accountable and not feel uncomfortable with the fact that this engagement is progressing and everybody knows.
Small Business Trends: The impact that internal collaboration has on customer acquisition has to be important.
Daisy Hernandez: There are certain decisions that a company has to make in order to figure out how to improve. We need to make this information or these conversations available internally. Then we have to drive the next set of conversations to figure out what the next steps are. Then you can determine how we are going to make this change to the policy; or make this change in the campaign; or change our strategy.
You can see the cycle and map back to how the decisions help improve customer acquisition, which then in turn, cycles back and says, “Now we look back and do we actually meet our measures of success? Was our decision a good one? If not what would we change?”
Small Business Trends: What are some ways people can measure the impact and the importance of collaborating in the cloud?
Daisy Hernandez: Assuming that we are talking about collaboration in the context of business processes, with decision making; certainly the time to address obstacles, the time it takes to close out exceptions – basically time. How do you now improve and drive the top line by improving the business processes you now have internally?
Small Business Trends: What are some of the best ways to get started leveraging the cloud to be more productive and more collaborative internally?
Daisy Hernandez: First and foremost, it is to have a use case. What I mean by that is, if people have identified a business process where they feel can be improved through collaboration, I think that is the most important thing. The reason why I said that is because right now with the first round of social collaboration, it is a lot of commoditized features of broad based social networking. Is it an important piece of function that you need in collaboration? What is infectious is getting the work done, not finding out what someone had for lunch or what they did over the weekend.
If customers or people really are interested in being serious about getting cloud and social collaboration into their business so that it becomes adopted, it needs to have business value, and the only way to have business value is if it actually impacts a company’s top or bottom line.
Small Business Trends: Where can people go to learn more about stream work?
Daisy Hernandez: SAP StreamWork.
This interview is part of our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click the right arrow on the gray player below. You can also see more interviews in our interview series.