Brian's half time score aka tech event season frolics

Profile picture for user brianssommer By Brian Sommer May 28, 2018
Here's a bite-sized round-up of events I attended this month and other stuff that floated across my digital desk.

Tech events often feel like this

Every month, there are a zillion things that cross my desk. Unfortunately, not all of them end up in a feature piece for diginomica. Some of that was due to all the GDPR emails that I had to heft. (Ed's note: we'll let you off Brian - we feel your pain.)

Here is a summary of some stories and events that popped up in May 2018 that you should know about.

Vendor briefings and roadshows

Saba Saba’s a learning management vendor that joined forces with Halogen almost exactly a year ago. The combined company appears to be doing well with a lot of growth in the mid-market and European markets. Saba already had a tremendous geographic reach, and Halogen had a lot of mid-market HCM credentials. Both firms also had a respectable number of large enterprise clients, too.  I’ve always liked Halogen’s (customer-focused) culture.

IFS IFSWorld’s annual user conference was back stateside this year. Jon Reed and I (among many other analysts) caught the happenings in Atlanta. I did a podcast with Jon and I shot a video at the show with the folks from the Cube.

One of the big announcements concerned the release of IFS version 10. Along with some enhancements to several of its vertical solutions, the software is getting HTML 5 UX (i.e., Aurena) in virtually every possible deployment/usage mode.

That show was also an opportunity to meet IFS’ new CEO, Darren Roos. I believe he will give this company a solid shove into the cloud space given his prior cloud ERP leadership role at SAP. I also suspect he’ll move the firm’s sales efforts into new, probably larger accounts.

Plex Plex, a long-time cloud ERP vendor, had their annual user event this month. I was conflicted out, but the usual gang of analysts was there.  Check out Jon's PowerPlex 2018 customer story. I’ll have to catch PowerPlex next year.

Adaptive Insights – Like the Plex event, I was conflicted out of the Adaptive Insights Live show, too.  Also this month, Adaptive filed its S-1 to go public. I will try to do a briefing with them soon to get back up to speed. Stay tuned.

Host Analytics – Dave Kellogg and the Host Analytics gang had their Perform event in Dallas this year. Around 700 customers were in attendance.  The company announced some technology partnerships (e.g., Workiva) and showcased its new mobile solution: MyPlan.

Host Analytics, Dave Kellogg
Dave Kellogg, CEO, Host Analytics

I had conversations with customers and prospects at the show. They like Host. One of the customers, a major university, has financial planning issues no one would want. They have to deal with dedicated funds, academic calendars, etc.  Their use of Host helps them a lot.

Next year’s event should be even more interesting as the MyPlan version 2 will be closer to release. It should have more predictive capabilities to enhance the product’s appeal.

Beamery  - If you’re an HR executive and you like what Entelo, SmashFly, etc. have done to recruitment marketing, then look at how Beamery, a candidate relationship management technology, brings sales and marketing concepts to the recruiting process.  Beamery has connections to other HR/Recruiting tools, creates a rich candidate process, etc. They do all the things that bad firms with bad ATS, recruiting websites, etc. don’t do. If the war for talent is on your firm’s doorstep, you might want to take a look.

Odds n’ Ends

NDA briefings – Lots of vendors offer briefings (or parts of briefings) on a non-disclosure basis. Usually, the non-disclosure period is only a day or two. Lately, though, I have received some briefing requests with indefinite quiet periods. I declined these as what these vendors want is free consulting instead of providing a briefing. This NDA/off-the-record stuff is getting out of hand. I and other analysts are now asking every vendor at the start of every encounter whether any of this is on-the-record.  I’m genuinely baffled why a vendor flies in analysts only to tell them that they can’t write or talk about the content.  That wastes my time and makes me far less likely to do anything with them again.

The Half-Time Show – Jon Reed and I also took time to record our observations regarding vendor events to date this year. Check out our podcast.   Think of this as a half-time show for ERP. (Ed's note: there are some amusing sections in this 14-minute show. Highly recommended.)

The Disappointment in ERP – I get involved in some software selections. Lately, I’m feeling a lot of the frustration that my clients face. My clients want something new. They want a factory of the future, radically rethought processes, big data in every process, multi-tenant cloud solutions, new data models, scalable platforms, etc. What they’re getting from many ERP vendors (and their channel partners) is single-tenant or on-premises solutions with old data models, overly mature processes, high costs, etc. It’s quite depressing to see how little has changed in ERP.

Many ERP vendors are not leading customers to a digitally transformed future.  If they’re doing anything, they are fiddling with the plumbing and the user interface of an old product. Unfortunately, they are taking forever to get their solutions out.  This is the market opportunity for firms like Uptake.

Unleash HR – I spoke at this cool HR show in Vegas: Unleash HR. I did a panel with Stacey Harris and Naomi Bloom on the connections between HR and Finance. Stacey’s a veritable fountain of great statistics on this.  I also did a talk about all the things that matter in software selections. It was a well-done show.

Great stories this month

I read a lot – mostly on planes. Here are some of the pieces that caught my attention this month:

“Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark” – This MIT Sloan Management Review article goes to the heart of why so many ERP transition stories (e.g., from on-premises to cloud) fail to work or work within a decade of when they are supposed to. While I suspect I could have written a more ERP-relevant piece, I was glad to see this and would recommend you wave this under the nose of any executive still waiting on a multi-tenant cloud version of their ERP solution to materialize.

Pi-hole – With all the GDPR activity of late, the timing of this piece on Pi-hole was serendipitous. Pi-hole is a network device that blocks all kinds of tracking and ad placement technology.  Think ad-blockers on steroids. It’s a shame consumers have to resort to this to block unwarranted and unwelcome spying.

Smart pallet – I saw this fascinating story in Forbes (Prince of Pallets, May 31, 2018) about pallets that monitor temperature, humidity, location and damage in real-time.  When something this low-tech gets re-imagined to become a smart device, is pallet-as-a-service next?

Age Discrimination Goes Global – Bloomberg Business Week (Over 30 Need Not Apply, May 7, 2018) had an interesting piece on Ageism, mainly because it involved the firm ZTE. ZTE is in the news for needing help to survive from the U.S. government. The article amplifies a vast, albeit somewhat quiet problem of age discrimination in the U.S.  For the exact opposite perspective, check out this piece on former partners of big accounting firms. It turns out that smaller firms want them.

Can your ERP handle this kind of hyper-inflation? Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported on May 7 that Venezuela would see a 13,000% inflation rate this year. I expect a lot of creative patches, upgrades and workarounds will be needed to handle changes in financial software not just for in-country businesses but also for firms that trade with Venezuelan firms or have operations there.

Are your HR software apps/processes hip to Piazza? Piazza is a Q&A tool that technology students use. Think of it as the digital watercooler where your future and best tech hires are hanging out. If your firm needs technology talent (and who doesn’t), then your recruiting technology should be wise to Piazza. The problem is that few know about it. I’ve yet to hear of any HR software vendor to acknowledge this either. Check out this May 21 BusinessWeek piece.

Blockchain! – Get the May/June MIT Technology Review if you want a whole issue of a magazine dedicated to all things blockchain. Some of it is marketing hype, some of it is interesting.

The May/June edition of Harvard Business Review – There are many great pieces in this issue. One of them is about marketing in the age of Alexa. It’s particularly interesting given all of the GPDR focus this month. But, I found the idea of marketers trying to influence Alexa’s answers to us to be the most predictable yet disturbing.

The stories to watch in June

BMC Up for Sale (Again) – The New York Post and other media reported this week that systems software/IT Service Management vendor BMC may get sold to private equity firm KKR. The company has been under a different private equity owner until now (and was once publicly traded), and it has been shopped a time or two before.  Thoma Bravo is also rumored to be interested in the deal. Exiting their ownership in BMC would be Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital. More news on the potential deal should be forthcoming.

SAP’s Sapphire Event - Sure, there will be S/4 announcements and talk of Leonardo. However, I suspect Project Trust and Indirect Access will also get a fair share of press, too. How all of this plays out will be interesting to watch. diginomica has feet on the ground so expect a good slice of coverage from the team.

IQMS, FinancialForce, Cornerstone OnDemand and Xero all have events this June, too. I guess the busy season is running long this year.

Are there any stories, events or new made-up tech words I should catch next month?  Let me know.