NewsGator acquires Sitrion, pushes ahead in innovation sector

NewsGator, the work management company that extends the capabilities of Microsoft Sharepoint, has announced the acquisition of Sitrion, a company that creates a social communication layer on top of SAP processes. Sitrion was founded in Germany, but has offices in Atlanta, as well. I had a chance to catch up with NewsGator’s CEO, Daniel Kraft, who shared the news with me, Monday.

Sitrion’s technology is based on the idea that people do not to be ‘processed’, so even if their company wants to use business process software — Like SAP — to implement and control business policies, workers would rather operate in a social context, where they can — for example — clarify their companies expense reporting policies conversationally. That conversation can be stored — based on Sitrion’s implementation — right next to the data in SAP associated with an expense report. This can shorten the approval process, since the information can be used by others further along in the process.

Kraft pointed out that this is part of Sitrion’s motto, ‘we simplify work’, since ultimately, companies can proactively improve policies based on analysis of patterns in the data. For example, a company might decide that the business expense approval process can be waived for expense reports under $2000, following an analysis showing the effort isn’t worth the effort, and simplifying work for everyone.

I also spoke with Kraft about last week’s announcement: NewsGator’s continued emphasis of innovation management in their updated Social Sites for Innovation. I recently made the case that strategy is the place that companies need to start their push to engage more people more deeply into strategic thinking:

Stowe Boyd, Metaphors Matter: Talking about how we talk about organizations

[…] the nature of strategy changes in a time of great change, when the future is difficult to foresee. The role of leadership changes with it, as well. Instead of concocting a strategic vision and pushing it out to the organization through cultural and managerial channels — the deliberate style of strategy — leadership must shift to distributed, action-based strategic learning about what is actually happening in the market: emergent strategy. This, as Henry Mintzberg observed, does not mean chaos, but unintended order.

I think the same is true with innovation: it’s no longer something managed by an innovation group in the R&D labs, but instead has to become a distributed activity happening across the board, deeply embedded culturally. And that is greatly helped by having social tools which are tailored to support the specific activities related to innovative thinking. Those activities include idea creation and sharing, gathering feedback on ideas, and then moving ideas into reality by active and direct execution. This again is the strategic learning mentioned above, and the core of what is going on in Social Sites for Innovation.

This needs also to be measured and displayed in an open way, so that progress can be monitored and those projects and performers that are making the greatest headway can be identified, and the ideas that aren’t working can be quickly pruned, and lessons learned. This is the motivation for Social Sites for Innovation’s various dashboards and analytic tools.

In the conversation with Kraft I offered this insight as to why the acquisition of Sitrion lines up with NewsGator’s basic value proposition. In both cases, the technology is organized around the proposition of helping people rapidly improve how work gets done by letting them socially work through obstacles to improve operations and remove barriers to delivering value.

Innovation in business models is an immensely important area, and NewsGator is providing tools that help companies get there.