Enterprise hits & misses – November 18


Jon’s cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond – for the week ending November 15, 2013.

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

As I publish this, Dreamforce is about to kick into high gear. Phil, Den and Stuart of the diginomica founding team are all there. Check out Stuart’s Dreamforce preview, Dreamforce: outages, earnings and where the punters are spending.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit:
Ben Haines, CIO Box – renaissance man by Den Howlett

quotage: ‘Haines’ central message is very clear – while IT transformation is tough – as are all transformation projects – they have to start with focusing on the business strategy. ‘When someone says they have a cloud strategy they’re talking BS,’ he says.’

myPOV: Den’s video and commentary on his recent sit down with Box CIO Ben Haines had some of the expected views on cloud, but with a twist. You get an immediate sense of the cloud’s impact when Haines reframes Den’s question about the impact of cloud on Box and basically says, this isn’t about Box. It’s about all companies. If you’re not in the cloud, you’re can’t move at the speed of today’s business.

According to Haines, three months is now a long project for his internal IT team. He warns that ‘If IT doesn’t deliver, the business will just go right around it.’ Haines doesn’t put much stock in security fears about putting information in an external cloud. In fact, he thinks IT is going to lose if it plays the security card because the SaaS providers have superior security measures. It’s a fair argument to have.

Haines is not a product of dotcom naivety. He has a deep enterprise background and the project scars to prove it, which makes his broad endorsement of cloud that much more striking. I’m sure we’ll hear more on these themes from the diginomica Dreamforce coverage this week. Also related: Den took a hard look at SAP’s cloud strategy in SAP cloud, SAP cloud wherefore art thou SAP cloud?


Happy children eating applediginomica pick: Two-tier: systems of record and engagement by Phil Wainewright

quotage: ‘Seen in this light, it becomes evident that the notion of two-tier is not merely an implementation choice for subsidiary operations and business innovation around the fringes of a big-company ERP system. It is the mechanism by which large enterprises graft more nimble systems of engagement into their organizations without having to rip-and-replace core systems of record.’

myPOV: Inspired by his recent jaunt to the Microsoft Dynamics show in Barcelona, Phil penned one of the most important ‘thought pieces’ diginomica has yet published. I would advise reading it carefully, it has big implications but also requires a rethink of the ‘two-tier ERP’ concept that has been popularized to date.

Phil is proposing to redefine two tier and flip it on its head. Once flipped, the (bottom) foundational tier is the transactional ERP system that resides at headquarters. The second tier becomes the outward-facing ‘systems of engagement’, often cloud-based. If you’re with me so far, then get a load of this comment by Phil: ‘The two-tier model helps us understand how the role of traditional client-server ERP systems will shrivel as the burden of running operations increasingly shifts to more modern systems of engagement. In smaller organizations, the system of record will become just a set of modules within a larger system of engagement.’ 

Though Phil phrased it dispassionately, that’s as stern a warning for so-called ‘legacy vendors’ to do something about their shrinking footprint as I’ve read. Sets the tone well for the events this week.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer Cloud ERP: Examine 4 Factors Before Choosing by Doug Henschen

quotage: ‘Have Infor, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP created SaaS-based ERP systems? In some cases, yes; in some cases, no. In other cases, multitenant SaaS is the direction, but the vendors aren’t there yet. Confused? This is only the start of the confusion, and it’s why it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting.’

myPOV: The dedicated tech reporter that with a firm grasp of enterprise issues is a vanishing breed. Henschen is one still standing I track – the above quotage is a good example. Instead of falling for the ol’ cloudwash routine, Henschen wades into the marketing turmoil and attempts to make some distinctions on the relative ‘SaaSiness’ of the vendors in play. That’s no easy task. Also: Henschen also pitched in a good piece on CDOs versus CIOs this week.

Other standouts

  • Constellation’s Holger Mueller reports on AWS’s re: invent show with a detailed report on day one and another on day two. In his event coverage, Mueller provides enough specifics to help those of us who want to peel behind the keynote which is appreciated. In a week where Jeff Bezos predicted AWS could become Amazon’s biggest business, the AWS story could be one of the tales of 2014.
  • A fellow Enterprise Irregular, Trident Capital’s Evangelos Simoudis lives up to the ‘Irregular’ part in his blogging frequency but when he does post, it’s always driven by his firm’s data gleaned by funding enterprise upstarts. In his latest, Thoughts on the Internet’s Monetization Opportunity, Simoudis makes his bullish case for the Internet in the enterprise.
  • With the HANA Academy more than a year old and 1,000,000 page views to its credit, SAP’s Timo Elliott interviews HANA Academy instructor Philip Mugglestone.
  • For the last two years, I’ve been working with Michael Doane to develop a model for transforming business users into business process experts. The model is derived from Doane’s work with SAP customers but much of the insight is transferable well beyond SAP.

Honorable mention:  More on CIO transformation via 10 Agile Skills CIOs Need to Manage Change (via Information Week). Cindy Jutras examines NetSuite’s TribeHR acquisition and the implications for its cloud HCM strategy. For a final Dreamforce appetizer, Denis Pombriant gives his take on a recent report on Salesforce.com’s customers from Bluewolf, The State of Salesforce.

Multi-media: ‘Native advertising’ is a sometimes potent/sometimes disturbing trend. Here’s Social Media Today’s webinar replay on the topic. I’ve never heard of PopTech but given it’s described as ‘TedX for real thinkers’ I am intrigued. The full SAP TechEd Amsterdam Keynote is posted on YouTube (all vendors should post all their keynotes this way). Finally, if you are of the HCM or SAP variety, or just like an honest discussion on the art and ethics of blogging, check out my podcast with (now) SAP SuccessFactors consultant Jarret Pazahanick, who was willing to tackle some thorny questions, including his much-discussed views on Workday (it’s on my JonERP iTunes feed also, along with fresh content on cloud CIOs and DevOps).


Overworked businessmanI mostly pick on bad blogs in this column, with the occasional good blog about a company’s bad behavior. But I have a new kind of whiff this time: a thought-provoking post that contains a fatal and offensive flaw. In this case, a Gawker piece entitled Viral Journalism and the Valley of Ambiguity. It’s actually an interesting post on which stories go viral and why more ambiguous stories don’t (If you replace ‘ambiguous’ with ‘nuanced,’ which I think you can get away with, the article is kind of depressing, but that’s another story).

But then comes the line: ‘But when we measure a story’s success by virality, which is what we must do in the age of social media, the content of our popular culture changes.’  Hmmm… who says we ‘must?‘ Just because our culture is increasingly defined by Kardashian-over-substance doesn’t mean we have to slavishly devote ourselves to the lowest common denominator. Fuck the wisdom of crowds – viral trends right into stupid. The last time I did personal research on viral, it was right after the Boston Marathon bombings, where the wrong kid was strung up and convicted by Twitter, Reddit etc on the overnight shift. Sanity returned in the morning when supposedly irrelevant ‘old media’ reporters verified some facts. Much damage was done to the wrongly accused kid’s family, but the social herd moved on.

If social media is so all-powerful, why do airlines take brutal social media hits each week and keep on doing whatever it is they do with such humorless tonedeafery? Yes, viral is real but it’s rarely the best of us, nor is it all powerful. We do ourselves a grave disservice by worshiping at its alter.

Officially off-topic

Speaking of whiffs, I could have easily picked on Microsoft for these happy reports on how they consulted with CIOs to improve Windows 8.1. Begging the question: why did Microsoft wait until after the release of Windows 8 to start talking with key enterprise customers about obviously stupid moves like removing the start button? What’s the opposite of ‘design thinking’ anyhow?

It gets worse: evidently Beijing needs an app for smog. How’s that for a contrast between tech innovation and the problems apps can’t fix? Making lemonade from bad tech headlines is possible though. See: crossword game made up only of (likely) passwords stolen from Adobe.

One way to have the last laugh is to negotiate a brilliant royalties contract. Here’s one of the most legendary smart contracts in history and the story behind it (NBA television rights). For some of us, we just want a good night’s sleep. This rogue guide to overriding a hotel’s thermostat could help with that. I can’t wait to try it – let me know how it goes for you.

Meanwhile, for your in-room viewing, Netflix continues its path of television disruption by picking up The Killing for a fourth and final season (I’m not sure how I feel about it, I liked season three but ‘The Killing‘ can never seem to stick the landing). 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, King Checkmate © mystock88photo – all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: SAP and Salesforce.com are diginomica premier partners; Box is a diginomica partner.