SAP estimates that there are roughly three million businesses around the globe using Google Docs. Most of that usage is among small companies and individuals within departments of large businesses.
And yet, SAP is interested in these users because all those small companies invariably do business with larger companies that run SAP software. For that reason, SAP this week inked an alliance with Google under which SAP StreamWork software will be integrated with Google Docs.
StreamWork is a collaboration application service that SAP launched last year in the cloud to create a social networking framework around its core applications.
This is only the beginning of SAP's efforts to extend its reach via StreamWork, says David Meyer, SAP senior vice president for on-demand, productivity and sustainability solutions. The StreamWork software comes with a robust set of REST interfaces that SAP has already used to integrate StreamWork with applications from Jive Software, Box.net and even Microsoft SharePoint.
As usage of Web applications grows, Meyer says the supply chain that large companies use is being redefined by the creation of new business networks that rely primarily on Web applications in the cloud that are simple to access and easy to use. The alliance with Google is simply a natural recognition of a trend that is already happening on a widespread basis, he says.
As this trend accelerates, it's becoming clear that the way businesses collaborate with each other is fundamentally changing the way companies operate. That change brings with it new pressures on the internal IT department to look well beyond the four walls of the enterprise when it comes to supporting the emergence of cross-company business networks on the Web.