It's December so it's time to take a look back at the highs and lows of the year. Here at diginomica each of us are compiling a top ten list of our 2014 posts. I found it hard to whittle down so my selection has grown to 12 — along with a sampling of the ones that came close in each of my chosen categories.
For all its ethereality, the cloud is still firmly rooted in the physical world. Its servers run in datacenters with real-world locations. Its users are subject to laws of the geographies and jurisdictions they roam through.
Why? My headline of the year. Intended as a play on the buzzword phrase 'Internet of Things' this headline introduces an examination of the various national constraints on global e-commerce ('ka-chings' — geddit?).
Also nominated in this category:
- Genetic research brings Internet fridge to life
- If Noah had built HANA, what would SAPís cloud strategy be?
- Restless Salesforce natives form new gang
Online advertising is largely ineffective. Much of the spend is wasted. But because itís so profitable for online publishers, they have little incentive to improve it.
Why? My favorite privacy rant. OK, this exploration of the contradictions in the online advertising business is not directly about privacy. But it helps expose why you should distrust the motives of publishers and advertisers in any discussion of online privacy. Other contenders in this category:
- How we traded our online privacy for shopping convenience
- Respect Network offers antidote to Facebook privacy flaws
- New EU digital chief Oettinger shows how little he knows cloud
The vast majority of enterprise social networks are still at first base, grappling with the challenges of getting started, and of showing enough value that others are persuaded to join.
Why? My favorite collaboration rant. The evolution of enterprise collaboration is an area of particular interest for me. Connected digital tools are opening up completely new ways of working together and people are still at an early stage of understanding how to make best use of them, as the user stories in this article illustrate. Other nominations in this category:
- 5 keys to unlock success in enterprise social collaboration
- Microsoft, Google, Box vie for enterprise collaboration market
I felt drawn to the challenge, perhaps spurred on by the thought of delivering the repaired tablet to my grateful son after many hoursí selfless labor. But a wise voice inside my head whispered of the potential disappointment if, as seemed likely, something went awry.
Why? My best human interest story. This was just a weekend post designed to provide some whimsical mid-August holiday reading. Yet somehow it has ended up jockeying with Apple support as the top organic Google search result for 'broken iPad screen', serendipitously becoming one of our most highly trafficked posts.
If you draw a smiley face instead of your signing your name to seal a contract, is it a legally valid signature? It probably is, provided itís a properly authenticated digital signature.
Why? My best CEO interview. Tom Gonser is a founder rather than CEO but my interview with him was a real eye-opener about the practice and potential of digital signatures. Among the crowded field of other nominations, discovering that I had interviewed Apttus CEO Kirk Krappe fifteen years previously when he had been CMO at ASP pioneer Corio made for another memorable encounter.
- How quote-to-cash play Apttus won Mark Zuckerberg as a backer
- Intacct CEO: What it costs to build a cloud financials business
- SurveyMonkey CEO finds answers for the enterprise
- Good CEO: donít let MDM ruin your mobile app experience
- Workday CEO: systems of record are moving to the cloud
I'm spending a fair amount of time with Bill. He's very interested in the things that will create the lasting value of the next generation of Microsoft.
Why? My closest Bill Gates encounter. Evidence that Microsoft's founder and now technical adviser is taking an active role cropped up unexpectedly this year in interviews in Las Vegas and Barcelona. Mike Ehrenberg, CTO for the Dynamics product line, gave a fascinating insight into the company's decision making processes under new CEO Satya Nadella and his own regular meetings with Gates. It was back in March that I'd first discovered how seriously Gates was taking his new role:
While there are benefits to be gained from moving client-server computing to IaaS in the cloud, relocating an application to IaaS doesnít transform it into SaaS as defined by NIST. Similarly, building an application to run on PaaS doesnít automatically make it a NIST-compliant SaaS application.
Why? My best tech deep dive. I wrote this as my attempt at a definitive, blow-by-blow guide to help tell the difference between cloudwashing and true SaaS. I'm on my home turf here, which gave this post the edge over a field of strong nominees:
- Virtualization is dead, long live containerization
- Think the Internetís disruptive? Hold tight for blockchain
- MuleSoft founder Ross Mason on avoiding API armageddon
More adaptable software canít save HR thatís no longer fit for purpose ... Digitizing the paper as a self-service web form isnít progress, not even on an iPad; itís stagnation dressed up in a pretty outfit.
Why? My favorite HR rant. The London preview of HRTech Europe followed in quick succession by Workday's EMEA conference helped crystallize a worrying thought: many enterprises are modernizing their HR software while leaving antiquated processes in place. For further reading on this topic, see these two runners-up, posted after October's HRTech Europe conference in Amsterdam:
As with any innovation, the problems come when people try to fit the new thing into their existing worldview. They make false analogies between the old and the new.
Why? My favorite cloud rant. I seem to spend a lot of my time explaining why the new world is not at all like the old world, but instead requires fresh thinking. All the nominees in this category are variations on the same theme:
- The software defined enterprise is not a technology purchase
- If you want a full-function app, choose mobile not desktop
- From client-server to cloud: SaaS evolution
- To transform into a digital enterprise, first reinvent IT
Although meticulously planned, it is perhaps inevitable that moving a system that handles millions of transactions each year, just in time for its busiest period, would run into some problems.
Why? My best legacy replacement story. This story of how Switzerlandís motoring organization replaced a twenty-year-old AS/400 minicomputer system with a cloud-native complex of six separate applications is a must-read. A worthy winner against a strong cast of nominees:
- Kodak Alaris CIO has 2.5 years to replace all its legacy IT
- Peterborough spends on IT to save money elsewhere
- The Weather Company forecasts change, deploys Google Apps
You can resist it or you can jump right in and be an agent of change. We opted for the latter.
Why? My digital inspiration of the year. Philips is reorienting its entire healthcare business around delivering better outcomes with the help of data collected from smart devices. It's an inspiring digital transformation project, described here by Jeroen Tas, formerly global CIO of Philips and now CEO of the newly formed Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services business unit. This real-world user story trumps the other nominees in this category:
- Digital transformation: the great enterprise unbundling
- Digital transformation goes beyond mobile to the API layer
- Digital transformation goes beyond customer experience
In a flash I realized that if SAP were to put Concur together with its existing acquisitions of Ariba in supply chain management and Fieldglass in contingent labor management then it would instantly have a huge footprint in this segment.
Why? My premonition of the year. My analysis of why it would make sense for SAP to buy Concur preceded the formal announcement of the deal by more than two weeks, at a time when it was no more than a furtive rumor. The accuracy of the post was informed by my knowledge of the two vendors and earlier analysis of the emerging digital and cloud applications sector:
- The cloudy future of enterprise applications
- Frictionless enterprise: the digitally connected future of business
Disclosure: Salesforce, SAP and Workday are diginomica premier partners and Box is a former partner.