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SAP ViewPoint: Power to the People!

by Brian Willis | SAPinsider

July 1, 2004

by Brian Willis, Senior Research Engineer, SAP Labs SAPinsider - 2004 (Volume 5), July (Issue 3)
 
You've likely heard the expression, "You can't see the forest for all the trees." Well, in today's corporate environment, you can't see the knowledge for all the information. There's just too much noise to make sense of all the information at your fingertips. So SAP invented a tool that enables users to focus only on what they need to see and shields them from what's irrelevant.

SAP ViewPoint is a new tool from SAP that intelligently responds to users' daily interaction with many different forms of electronic content to provide more relevant, personalized user interfaces. Content can be virtually anything from analytical reports, alerts, and articles to presentations and discussion threads.

Think of SAP ViewPoint as a custom-built daily newspaper that only contains your favorite information and learns more and more about your personal preferences as time goes by. Also, much like in a newspaper, the best types of content are time-sensitive. If you wanted to know about current stock prices, why would you read last year's reports?

As a user, don't you want to see the timely content you care about without being bothered by all the other "stuff" that — although interesting to someone, somewhere — rates less-than-zero with you? Don't you wish that pertinent information could find its way to you, without having to search, surf, or otherwise seek it out?

As a content publisher, don't you wish you could publish content to one place and have it magically appear in front of everyone who has expressed an interest in seeing it? What if you didn't have to use email and maintain distribution lists to do this?

SAP ViewPoint truly brings the power to the people. It gives users the ultimate control of what they want to see and how they want to see it (via email, HTML, XML, etc.).

How Does It Work?

Currently at work on the SAP Developer Network site (http://sdn.sap.com), SAP ViewPoint categorizes content based on users' ratings via key terms called discussion objects. SAP ViewPoint then analyzes these preferences to push a personalized, formatted set of information to users.

Discussion objects* exist directly within the content (see Figure 1). Users can state preferences, both positive and negative, for any discussion object* they see. Discussion objects* appear within the text as special hyperlinks highlighted by an asterisk*. Users rank their interest in these key terms by hovering the mouse over them and — with a single click — promoting or demoting their importance. This approach provides a very granular control of content filtering, down to even the most specific interest topic.

Figure 1
Example Discussion Objects within SDN Content

Users state their preferences online as they read the content, without having to go to a separate page to register their feedback. Based on a user's discussion objects ratings, SAP ViewPoint prepares a newspaper-like front page complete with the content that's most relevant to that particular user. Users are now more likely to find what they are looking for on this front page, and as they click into an article to read it, they can rate additional discussion objects. Over time, this interaction cycle (see Figure 2) narrows in on exactly the content that the users want to see.

Figure 2
SAP ViewPoint's User Interaction Cycle

Personalization is omnipresent but at the same time unobtrusive. The rating bar is always there, just below the surface, waiting for the user to give their instant feedback*.

SAP ViewPoint in Action at the SAP Developer Network

SDN, the site for all things technical about SAP NetWeaver, is a classic example of the value of SAP ViewPoint. With new presentations, Weblogs, notes, how-to guides, product documentation, news, and code samples pouring in every day, the amount of content on SDN is enormous. We needed a way to let people know about new content that's specifically relevant to them — SAP ViewPoint perfectly fit our needs.

On SDN, SAP ViewPoint is the engine powering DevToday, SDN's personalized electronic newsletter. In DevToday, you are given the ultimate power to rate what you want to see. Perhaps you're a portal administrator and you need to stay up to speed on all the new SAP Notes as soon as they're published. Maybe you like to follow up on news regarding SAP Master Data Management (SAP MDM). Or perhaps you want to cruise the Weblogs from your favorite bloggers. Whatever your interest, you can set your profile with only a few clicks and be on your way. And if that "way" happens to be away from the office, you can get your highest-priority content emailed to you on a scheduled basis (see Figure 3).

Figure 3
SDN's DevToday Newsletter in HTML Format

We built SAP ViewPoint and put it on SDN for you to play with. As it evolves and improves with your feedback, we'd eventually like to make it commercially available for any company with a lot of content that needs to be selectively distributed to many users. Put your imagination to work, and don't limit yourself to human-authored content. Any machine-generated content, like reports or alerts, can also be managed by SAP ViewPoint.

In order to let people test-drive SAP ViewPoint even further, we're expecting to ship a Technical Preview Software Development Kit (SDK) in Q4 2004. The entire SAP ViewPoint application is less than 1MB and runs on just about any piece of hardware, even a five-year-old laptop. It will take your in-house developers just a few days to implement the tool.

Visit SDN to find out about cutting-edge technologies from SAP, and check out DevToday for yourself. Give us feedback — tell us what you think about SAP ViewPoint and what you want it to do for you. And remember to look for the SAP ViewPoint Technical Preview SDK in Q4 2004. It will be available for download from — where else? — SDN*.

SAP Developer Network
SDN.SAP.COM

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