It's been said that IT, taken by itself, can't give a competitive advantage to a company, and that it is instead its people that are the only true advantage any company has. While I don't presume to dispute this, it seems more obvious each year that IT can be used to further the competitive potential of any company's human capital by getting the right tools and training into employees' hands and allowing them to be more productive in learning (as well as learning-by-doing).
Along these lines, SAP announced a virtual learning environment partnership with Adobe Systems. With its acquisition of Macromedia and new collaborative tools springing up across its existing product lines, Adobe Systems seems to be stepping out of its shrinkwrapped software box and into the connected, converged workforce. The SAP/Adobe partnership is one such move -- focusing on a new method of delivering the SAP Enterprise Learning Environment tools through the use of Adobe's Acrobat Connect environment. For SAP, the advantages that partnering with the multimedia powerhouse brings are many, and the scalability and customizability possible in Enterprise Learning should allow this technology to penetrate deep into the enterprise market.
What I thought was most interesting and relevant were these two things:
- The interface is built on Flash technology, which means that users don't have to worry about the lengthy downloads and cumbersome installs of the usual PC training experience; and
- The interface offers a rich media experience, allowing for the delivery of the type of engaging virtual classroom course content -- such as animations, videos, interactive polls and simulations -- that will appeal to many of the younger generations who are often in need of the most workplace training.
SAP and Cisco, meanwhile, announced an upcoming, collaborative approach to business IT that provides pre-built applications that integrate unified business communications (email, voice, podcasts, etc.) into a solution that provides quick (and compliance-friendly) responses to significant business events from anywhere and anyone (customers, partners, suppliers, employees, etc.) at any time, using any device.
Another announcement concerned a collaboration between SAP, Microsoft and HP to build a true plug-and-play "appliance" (a HP ProLiant server) that is pre-loaded with Duet software (a joint solution from Microsoft and SAP that gives information workers seamless access to select SAP business processes and data through Microsoft Office applications).
Finally, IBM and SAP announced an increased commitment to their partnership to reach the midmarket in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
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