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Enterprise hits & misses – December 16

Enterprise hits & misses – December 16
| On December 16, 2013

A cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit:
SAP finally solves developer licensing, launches SAP River, more open source by Den Howlett

quotage: ‘Vishal Sikka shares mine and others belief that the long term future depends in part on SAP’s ability to attract a new ecosystem of developers. A year ago, SAP had no real chance of achieving that goal. Having fixed developer licensing and come out the gate with UI5 going to open source, Sikka has clearly signalled the way ahead.’

myPOV: Those of us who insisted SAP TechEd Bangalore would bring some genuinely meaty announcements were vindicated by an eventful week that included the announcement of a new unified SAP developer license, the (partial) open sourcing of SAP UI5, the global test availability of River (a new HANA development environment) and last but probably not least, the announcement of Project Ganges, a HANA-powered rethinking of the Indian retail industry supply chain that, if successful, could provide a model for transforming industries – rather than the typical in-memory game of speeding processes.

With so many impactful announcements, several of which required piles of legal paper to push out the door, it’s no surprise that Den’s Bangalore analysis had an optimistic tone – though it surprised some readers (see the comment thread for a taste of the debates that ensued). Den has his own views, but as I see it: credit where credit is due – but no free passes. If we can’t recognize change when it comes, all that’s left is being an enterprise grouch. Or an open source snob – and we saw some of those on Hacker News this week.

As for my own views, I’m still reviewing the backchannel feedback of developer advocates. For now SAP gets credit for a major step forward on several fronts. And no, these are not just techie developments. Great platforms mean great apps for customers. I expect the caliber of the apps ecosystem (and ease of building such apps) to be the main differentiator on which enterprise vendors rise (or not) within a few year’s time. So SAP’s developer engagement does have profound business relevance.

There is plenty of work to do and plenty to overcome (example: open source developers typically want to fork the source code and potentially re-merge it down the line – one of many open source entanglements SAP will have to conquer around UI5 and related initiatives). Meanwhile, some of SAP’s most vocal developer advocates became jaded waited for such changes to pass. Now change is afoot. Is it too late? no. But – it’s not done either. We’ll be tracking this one in 2014.

Happy children eating applediginomica pick: Converging on best practice for online collaboration by Phil Wainewright

quotage:By making the documents themselves collaborative and putting them directly into the collaboration space, these vendors are moving towards a new, dynamic document format that is a core foundation of best practice for online collaboration in a connected world.’

myPOV: After disclosing his own field-worn views on the problems with online collaboration tools, Phil goes on to assess a new collaboration feature added to Huddle, contrasting it with a similar feature previously added by Box. The biggest weakness in the collaboration space has been the largely failed attempt to convince users to try entirely new social portals.

Far more persuasive is the addition of collaboration features directly into shared workspaces – in this case, shared documents. As Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell said to Phil, ‘We found people wanted to make notes, record a discussion, do a brainstorm, right there in the document store — because they don’t think of it as a document store any more, it’s increasingly a collaboration space.’  Bingo.

Also recommend: Stuart Lauchlan was also on a roll this week – you may want to start with What Obamacare can learn from the UK not being crap at digital, which lives up to its title.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer The Worst IT Project Disasters of 2013 by Chris Kanaracus

quotage: ‘Trends come and go in the technology industry but some things, such as IT system failures, bloom eternal. “Nothing has changed,” said analyst Michael Krigsman of consulting firm Asuret, an expert on why IT projects go off the rails. “Not a damn thing.”

myPOV: In the annual holiday tech sales flogathon, it’s easy to lose track of how that sexy technology is only as good as the culture that supports it. Kanaracus brings us back to enterprise reality with a daunting review of 2013 IT failures that are not just isolated incidents but brow-furrowing examples that have a ripple effect beyond the organizations cited. Adding to that disturbing mix were several more fresh failures this week, including stories that weren’t high points for either SAP or Oracle.

Other standouts

Multi-media: Leveraging Social Data for Customer Insights [WEBINAR REPLAY] from Social Media Today kicks around how to turn social data into something that’s actually useful. I missed this MIT video on What Digital Transformation Means for Business but it’s worth a look if you missed it also. SAP’s Vijay Vijayasankar gets the skinny on River and more from Dr. Vishal Sikka at SAP TechEd Live Bangalore.


Overworked businessmanHere’s your whiffs holiday grab-bag: so Guy Kawasaki boils his years of Twitter wisdom into a world-class-crummy piece of advice to repeat the same tweet four times a day? Three words: don’t do this. Dear Guy- next time please dispense something less dystopian, ok?

Is it time for those of us who can’t stand slide shows to quit whining and organizing a formal boycott? If we stop reading them, they’ll stop making them. ZDNet’s been going on a slide show binge for the ages and it’s not a good look. But the page views must be there, or this infestation would be contained by now. Guy Kawasaki must be tweeting them our four times a day or something. On a related note, since when does LinkedIn refreshing its inbox justify a story? But I guess I already covered that in my prior digital update piece on the flawed quest for attention.

On a more enterprisey note, I am a regular reader of UpperEdge’s blog, which has covered some controversial ERP issues like SAP indirect pricing. But the latest analysis of the Avon’s SAP  project cancellation left me a bit squeamish – I think because I wasn’t clear on whether the author had any inside information or was just speculating.

There is a place for informed speculation (the piece makes some good points), and a place for sharing first hand knowledge. With a topic this volatile I would have disclosed which was which, especially given phrases like ‘I am certain the CIO was under enormous pressure to deliver, and the decision to go live did not come easy.’ How was this certainty arrived at? It’s a question that lingered with me at any rate.

Officially off-topic

Blog post title of the week goes to No, I won’t install your app or subscribe to your newsletter; similar ground is covered in 17 Pieces of Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Marketing Advice though I take issue with #17, but 16 out of 17 ain’t bad. Via Phil Fersht I also enjoyed What sets high achievers apart, with a refreshing focus on ‘grit’ as the difference-maker.

For a sneaky big tech story heading into 2014, I’ll nominate How Tech Giants Lost Control Of Messaging. Looking towards 2020, Google’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics, makers of robots as cool as they are terrifying might get the nod.

Speaking of futures, there was an unusually rich crop of fascinating/ridiculous science stories this week, starting with The Only Thing Weirder Than a Telemarketing Robot. On a more studious note: The shadow genome: why DNA isn’t destiny. Then we head into the realm of the wonderfully absurd with Are we in the Matrix? Science looks for signs we’re not real, and 200,000 people apply to be first to live on Mars (keep in mind this is a one way trip!)

Finally, though some are not safe for work, I encourage a browsing of Awful Announcing’s Top 13 Broadcasting Bloopers of 2013 (I’m partial to number two). I’ll spare you a rant-filled deconstruction of Showtime’s ‘Homeland’ in favor of a Netflix streaming recommendation of ‘Top of the Lake‘, a highly imperfect but haunting offering from the Sundance Channel that was one of the more original TV shows of the year. See you next time.

Which #ensw pieces of merit did I miss? Let us know in the comments.

Most of these articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. “myPOV” is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credits: Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa – all from

Disclosure: SAP and Oracle are diginomica premier partners, and Box is a diginomica partner as of this writing.

Jon Reed

Jon Reed

Jon Reed has been involved in enterprise communities since 1995, including time spent building ERP recruiting and training firms. These days, Reed is a (cough) blogger/analyst and also counsels vendors and startups on go-to-market strategy. He is an SAP Mentor, Enterprise Irregular, and video content producer.
Jon Reed


Enterprise Irregular, diginomica co-founder + SAP Mentor who blogs/videocasts on the enterprise, w/ dash of bootstrappin' + media hacks. OK, I rant sometimes.
Jon Reed
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Nothing to do with SAP / ERP or even computing in general, but I have to add to your shout out for Top of The Lake. 

Apart from the story and visuals (South island, New Zealand), when you consider the antecedents of the actors (US, Australia, New Zealand), and that it was co-produced by the BBC in the UK, UKTV in Australia/NZ, and the Sundance Channel in the United States, you know there is an interesting back-story on collaboration and internatinal barriers (or lack thereof).

have a good christmas... I'll be thinking of you in the snow if I ever get out of the air conditioning this summer :)

dahowlett moderator

On the Avon thing - 'works as designed' struck me.  Designed when - four years ago? BIP - ie Before IPad? If so then it is perfectly understandable the UI is not to the average Joe's taste. But is the UX that catastrophic to justify a near full write off as described by most accounts? And what did the Fiori team do to rescue this clusterf*&k - if anything? Oh yeah...and where does Krigsman get off on making broad brush BS statements without fact checking? Sorry jon but the real whiff is some seriously lazy reporting on this one.

jonerp moderator

@martin_english Martin thanks for that Top of the Lake context...that backstory illustrates why the episodes are distinctive. Not sure all will enjoy, but some of the scenes and characters have stuck with me. A very strong sense of place came out of the visual setting that's for sure. 

Thanks for the christmas wishes, I will think of you next time I am scraping snow off my car with a pick axe - only happy thoughts mind you, the happiest of thoughts. :)

jonerp moderator

@dahowlett There is quite a bit on the Avon project that has not come to light - I share many of the questions you raised about it, particularly the UI aspects. Michael Krigsman to my knowledge has not commented on the Avon project, at least not in these pieces, Michael was quoted in general about project failure by Chris Kanaracus in his roundup of the worst failures of 2013, which did not include the Avon story.