Enterprise software giant SAP could be close to buying a social networking company, according to Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang, with suggestions that Jive might be the target.
Speaking at the SAP User Group conference in Birmingham today, Wang suggested the acquisition could be announced “in the next few weeks”.
“Five years ago it was all about SOA [service-oriented architecture]; then three years ago cloud took over; now it’s social and mobile,” said Wang.
“SAP may have to make an acquisition to make social work. We think something might be happening in the next few weeks, but we’ll see.”
While the name of the social network in question was not revealed, evidence points to a tie up with Jive – a social business and collaboration platform that SAP has worked with in the past.
Wang told CIO sister title Techworld that Jive CEO Tony Zingale has cancelled all meetings and appointments during the last three weeks. The company is not speaking publicly at any events and it is not engaging in any customer activity. The current management team at Jive was also brought in specifically to sell the company or instigate an IPO.
According to Wang, the five changes driving the consumerisation of IT are mobile, social, cloud, analytics and unified communications. SAP has been making headway in mobile, following its acquisition of Sybase last year, and analytics, with its recently announced HANA in-memory database.
The company has also been helping customers transition to the cloud, with a slew of new offerings announced at its Sapphire conference earlier this month – although a recent survey by the SAP User Group revealed that 27 percent of SAP customers did not fully understand the company’s cloud platform and the benefits it could bring.
However social is the area where SAP has really been falling behind, he said.
“If you look at the five areas of consumerisation of IT, they’re missing social big time,” said Wang. “They’re working with Microsoft on Lync, so they don’t need the UC. So social is the only one missing.”
The consumerisation of IT was a key focus of the SAP User Group conference, with the company’s co-chief information officer Oliver Bussman saying “the key to learning is to watch those consumer trends”. He said that, one day, it will be the norm for CIOs to examine business analytics on their mobile devices in the same way that they now check their emails.
However, Wang warned that this will require collaboration between the “shadow IT” (ie. the business department) and the IT department. While business users want something that is “simple, scalable and sexy,” IT users need devices to be “safe, secure and sustainable”.
“If shadow IT moves too far ahead, the rest of the organisation will collapse,” said Wang. “The two sides need to work closely together.”