Getting Social in the Enterprise with ESME

By Elizabeth Millard Print this article Print

Baseline takes a close look at the origins of the Enterprise Social Messaging Experiment (ESME)--an enterprise social networking and microblogging collaboration application initially-based on SAP technology. With all the social networking tools that live on the open, free Internet, like-minded application developers have come together to build a more risk-averse, secure and deeply collaborative social network that can have most of the benefits of social networks, yet live behind corporate firewalls.

Although some companies are using consumer social networking and microblogging apps like Twitter and Facebook to drive deeper connections among employees, experts, and customers, others are exploring ways to create similar tools that are better able to meet enterprise needs. Case in point: ESME.

A few months ago, a handful of SAP Mentors were enjoying a casual conversation about application development on Plurk, a social networking site. The Mentors are in the company's Community Network and are usually people who are prolific contributors to technical topics, but also have special expertise in defined areas, according to one Mentor, Dennis Howlett.

The chat turned into an idea that soon became a full-blown social networking project, called ESME (short for Enterprise Social Messaging Experiment), with an alpha release about 3 months later.

"ESME is interesting because of the background of the people building it," says Red Monk analyst Michael Cote. "Primarily, there are a lot of enterprise software -- specifically, ERP -- people involved in the project."

Their approach, notes Cote, was not to figure out how to fit a Twitter-like service into the enterprise, but how to build up and extend a microblogging system that fits enterprise needs. An online demo video displays its attributes, including user groups and tag clouds.

Cote adds, "Also, based on this experience with dealing with such business systems, you could expect to see more integrations with business back-ends to more tightly integrate into existing business setups."

Although ESME isn't positioned against Twitter, it does take some of the concepts behind that product, such as conversational flow and the idea of "followers," Howlett says.

"ESME was built with a clearly differentiated model in mind that address the problem of discovering people who can help in problem-solving situations inside the enterprise network," he states. "We envisage this as primarily behind the firewall, but could cross corporate boundaries into the extended business value chain. You can imagine it as the alternative to the 'go-to guy/gal' when problems arise among knowledge workers."

This article was originally published on 2008-09-29
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