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Enterprise hits and misses - ADP vs Zenefits and SaaS business models edition

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed July 6, 2015
A cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn't) - on diginomica and beyond. This week's edition: ADP versus Zenefits and why SaaS business models provoke change. Also: Reddit's (botched) community lessons, World Cuppery, and the redemption of Ishtar.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit: Exclusive – ADP v Zenefits – a follow up and assessment - by Den, Brian, and Phil

quotage: "Meaningful communication between the two firms (nerd to nerd) may help get to the real root cause. Only then should the leaders of these firms get together and see if a solution for their mutual customers is possible."  - Brian

myPOV: The ADP versus Zenefits dispute, while far from resolved, has big implications for SaaS, cloud partnerships, and the API economy that supports them. When the dispute went public, the breathless media coverage raised more questions than answers. For clarification, Den, Phil, and Brian had a follow up call with ADP. They also had an email exchange with Zenefits. The resulting piece includes a summary of vendor reactions/clarifications, as well as individual takes from Brian, Den, and Phil.

The three amigos authors managed to advance the conversation, but from their final takes, there is not a consensus on exactly where the fault lies. More likely than not, the information needed to make a final assessment is not in the public domain yet. As Brian points out above, it's about finding a mutual solution that serves customers. Bonus: I wrote about why The Supreme Court's refusal to rule on the Oracle-Google API dispute didn't do any favors for the API economy.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica five: my completely subjective "top five" stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style - It was an unusually sexy week in the sometimes dry world of Corporate Performance Management (CPM). Workday raised the stakes with their own collaborative planning announcement, which raises new questions for Workday customers who are, up to this point, looking to Workday partners for that functionality (including Tidemark, Adaptive Planning and Anaplan). Phil analyzed the situation, with Den providing additional commentary (Workday adds real-time collaborative financial planning).

But the plot thickens further with Adaptive Planning's latest funding round, which Den assesses (Adaptive Insights CEO on raising $75m as CPM market heats up). Adaptive Planning also factors into Plex's Powerplex 2015 event, which Den attended and hit on from several angles, including the video stage (PowerPlex 2015 – a confident company ready to take on the behemoths). Den sums up the whirlwind: "The same day, Plex and Workday talk about their relationships, while Plex also mentions its continuing relationship with Adaptive."

Database disruption continues, this time via Enterprise DB's Advanced Server, its distribution of the Postgres open source SQL database. Martin's on the case with EnterpriseDB bids to get Oracle users off the RAC. Stuart wraps it with Ups and downs in the services market for Accenture, Cognizant, where Stuart points out some bumps in the road as services firms re-invent.

Jon's grab bag: Stuart filed a digital disruption trifecta, forcing myself to pick one, I'll go with Arresting Uber execs doesn’t solve France’s problem with digital disruption, a difficult situation that reminds us that the digital economy has an edge with real world consequences we ignore at our collective peril.

Den's digibyte – Contingent labor – a myth? Here’s three scenarios also addresses some of these issues, bringing it back to customer advisory, and the problem of labor planning in a contingent workforce. Finally, even while technically on vacation, our trusty Derek poked his head out from the surf and turf with some lessons on digital governance in “Unachievable” programme should serve as warning to Government-as-a-Platform agenda.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Beyond Deployment Options: SaaS as a Business Model by Frank Scavo

quotage: "Software as a service is more than just another deployment option, another way to consume software. SaaS is a business model. SaaS not only affects the product: it should drive the nature of how the provider does business, from how the product is developed and maintained to how it is sold, implemented, and supported. It should permeate the very culture of the provider’s organization." - Frank Scavo

myPOV: Scavo reclaims the top spot with a savvy post on SaaS as a business model that should cause some trepidation in some vendor marketing departments. Shame as his point runs deeper than messaging. This piece could be seen as another marker, along with the ADP/Zenefits piece, of the growing pains of modern software. Ultimately promising from a customer value standpoint, but not without issues.

Scavo brings his field experience on software selection to bear on what the attributes of a SaaS business model are, including continuous innovation, customer intimacy - basically the opposite of shelfware. He also takes on the "customer choice" mantra some vendors are flaunting: "We rarely, if ever, see customers making the switch back from SaaS to on-premises systems."  Recent diginomica pieces on the flaws of cloud service providers raise important caveats, but Scavo's article has a "no looking back" feel nonetheless.

Other standouts

  • Spreadsheet slaying is futile in enterprises - Vijay Vijayasankar and Den Howlett don't agree on spreadsheets. Good thing for us - the resulting skirmishes are always interesting. Vijayasankar, arguably "pro spreadsheet", at least compared to Den, puts out his latest take of spreadsheet realism. Also: Vijayasankar wants to know if there are any companies out there that completely eliminated spreadsheets as a BI, EPM and ETL tool. Takers?
  • Why Design Thinking can save the outsourcing industry - Granted, the headline is a bit extravagant, but Phil Fersht has penned a good 'un, Fersht has been stumping (correctly) for outsourcers to transform for the "as-a-service" economy, with the design thinking aspect, he's now addressing one aspect of how you get there. No, you can't sprinkle "design thinking" on process/culture problems and magically fix them, but a new methodology is needed. HfS thinks design thinking will come to the forefront of the software and services market in 2015 - we'll see.
  • The Innovation-Driven Disruption of the Automotive Value Chain (Part 2) - Another monster post from Evangelos Simoudis on how the automobile industry is rethinking its innovation model. Best part is the "what the automobile industry should do about all this disruption" section, which gets into culture, talent, and a new communications network that implicated all kinds of service providers and utilities as cars get "smart" and "electric."

Honorable mention

Now, What Is Hadoop? - Useful research rundown from one of the best database analysts.
Don’t Perpetuate the Hoax of the Gartner Top 25  - Spicy supply chain spice!  "When I read the press releases, I hang my head in embarrassment. I am sorry that I was ever a part of its creation." The tell-us-how-you-really-feel award is locked up for this week folks.
10 Supply Chain Gotchas, and How to Avoid Them - No bias against list posts here, as long as the list itself is vaguely useful.
Is Embracing Total Transparency Really A Good Idea? - To answer the headline, no, not when you put it that way. Total anything is probably a bad idea. But still, though provoking.
Job market's new normal - smaller workforce, sluggish pay - another feel-good piece about the U.S. employment market (via Dennis Moore).
AirBnB and the Internet Revolution - Another substantial offering - written from an AirBnB rental to boot. This is an essay, not a blog post - and yes, that's a compliment.


Overworked businessman
Ishtar Star Dustin Hoffman Says Movies Are Bad Now - clever headline by Vulture but a cautionary tale in snark. Give me a grumpy old dude with a fistful of legendary films over a page-view preening new media hack. Oh, and Hoffman is right. Ishtar over Jurassic World anyday.

So, not the best PR week for Google, eh? Or Americans in general - call me a dreamer, but couldn't we have found a way to celebrate the Women's World Cup victory without trending Pearl Harbor on Twitter?

Seems like Reddit CEO Ellen Pao is getting some "PR in the real world" lessons as well, courtesy her defense of Reddit's decision to fire a popular moderator. Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned "we screwed up"? Pao offered that up, but then went on the offensive, saying that most users don't care about the firings and the moderator protests.

Then, according to the New York Times, Pao floated this PR balloon: "the most virulent detractors on the site are a vocal minority." OK - but that vocal minority does include many of the moderators that built your site, right? Twitter's commercial dilemmas are interesting, but I'd argue Reddit's attempts to commercialize their site without alienating the community that built it is the more fascinating story, with plenty of lessons for enterprise communities.

Officially off-topic

Speaking of the Women's World Cup, yeah, the final lacked suspense but did bring an all-time great goal from Carli Lloyd. Here's Andres Cantor with the call. If soccer/football's not your thing, perhaps a video tour of the Great Barrier Reef, courtesy a turtle with a GoPro on its back?

Got a kick out of the point/counterpoint, mostly because of the terrific writing in Deadspin's Cats: They're Bad and Cats: They're Fine. Finally, if you're looking for some new apps, you might want to scroll through Mark Suster's Products I Love to Use (check the reader commentary also). See you next time, live from London...

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

Most Enterprise hits and misses 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, Man © Dudarev Mikhail - all from

Disclosure: Workday, NetSuite, and Plex are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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