Enterprise hits and misses - clueless services firms and Infor cloud edition

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed May 3, 2015
Jon's cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn't) - on diginomica and beyond - the clueless services firms and Infor cloud edition. Plus: bad rumors, bad robots, and questionable algorithms.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit: Bringing an assets mindset to professional services firms – in software by Brian Sommer

quotage: "I can’t seem to find solutions that see service professionals as ASSETS of a company. I see lots of solutions where people are viewed as a cost of delivery or expense item. I don’t see systems or management practices that see people as something you want to nurture, develop and enhance over time as you would other classes of asset."

myPOV: Wherein Brian shakes a well-deserved finger at services firms - or at least their failings - by pointing out a fundamental problem with viewing consultants are resources to exploit not assets to nurture (ring a bell anyone?). Brian also raises the issue: where's the software? If you want a solution to manage consultants as assets, no such solution exists; current "Talent Management" offering aren't designed for this purpose. I have an idea for a startup...

Happy children eating apple
diginomica three: my completely subjective top three stories on diginomica this week
  • Have you got a pension plan for your proprietary databases? - Headlines that make you go, "ouch!". Martin sifts through recent Gartner research projecting as much as 80% of the in-house developed application portfolio may be candidates to migrate to open source databases,, and 50% of existing commercial RDBMS instances will be converted by 2018. Martin doesn't hesitate to put a stick in the ol' spokes, but in this case, he's inclined to agree: change is afoot.
  • Netflix IT is all about cloud, choice, vending machines, hangouts and NERDS - I'm a lukewarm Netflix customer (their streaming catalog is nibbling on olives, the meat is elsewhere), but a look under the hood of their IT operations is always instructive. While at ServiceNow, Derek scored an excellent Netflix story. "Context not control" is a management philosophy I'd like to delve into. Derek, my only issue is your last line, "If things don't work out at diginomica, I want to work at Netflix." Not so fast there mate...
  • Technical leadership styles – and why they must change over time - Charlie weighs is on executive leadership styles, and why adaptation is mandatory, not only for digital change, but for technical lifecycles. And here's the rub: those hats may need to switch multiple times a day.

Vendor analysis, diginomica style - Nevermind Dreamforce is months off, Salesforce is still stealing headlines from the spring show season, this time with an innocuous Bloomberg headline Salesforce Said to Work With Bankers to Field Inquiries, which set off a frenzy of speculation - even Buzzfeed got in on it (I'll get to that in the "whiffs" section). In Salesforce in play – who might buy them?, Den handicapped potential suitors, fingering Oracle as the most likely culprit.

Stuart then filed OracleForce – a prodigal’s progress?, which reflects on the two decades long Benioff-Ellison relationship as well as his own interactions with both. On balance, Stuart has more questions than answers. As it should be, given the amount of known unknowns. Elsewhere in vendorland, Phil filed two nifty pieces on Chef's devops-on-steroids pursuits, starting with Chef stirs up enterprise IT with a dash of devops, then Compliance-as-code brings high velocity to enterprise IT.

Next up? Reports from the show circuit: Den with a pair of event reviews, Infosys Confluence 2015 – how to be more, and Qlik Sense-making at Qonnections 2015 (with both companies decidedly NOT in business-as-usual mode, this makes for interesting reading). Oh, and Stuart's got the skinny on Capgemini's bold U.S. forays (Capgemini to spend $4 billion for iGate to raise US profile).

Finally, we've got your ASUG-Sapphire Now "preview or bust" writeups, with Den and Brian pushing burning questions (Den's crowdsourced Q's and analysis, Brian's CIO questions. SAP takes the hot seat shortly - the diginomica team are doing the divide-and-conquer routine between NetSuite's SuiteWorld and Sapphire Now, so watch this space...

Jon's grab bag - I was surprised/not by Martin's Working at home should now be commonplace, but it isn’t. I grasp why companies are reluctant to allow full-time telecommuting, but the general lack of flexibility is surprising, given the tools to make employees' lives more mobile are there. Derek's analysis of 451 Research data that commercial private cloud offerings are a better cost value than OpenStack distributions seems worth a ponder (gist: Open Stack engineers are EXPENSIVE). Also, Stuart reports that LinkedIn (partially) blamed its net losses on the UK general election. Err, no.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
On Infor's cloudy re-invention - last mile analysis - by Frank Scavo and Cindy Jutras

quotage: "Infor faces two challenges. First, it must convince a greater share of its 70,000 customers to sign up for UpgradeX. Then, if it does convince them, Infor will need to have the implementation resources trained and available to support those customer migrations." - Frank Scavo

mPOV: The Infor analyst event in New York City raised questions for further research, and this week, both Frank Scavo and Cindy Jutras weighed in. Scavo’s piece had a cloudy focus; Infor’s future is tied to persuading/guiding its legacy customers to its Cloud Suite solutions. Scavo has details on UpgradeX, Infor’s aggressive push to get customers onto its CloudSuite products by swapping maintenance for subscription fees. There is drama here - customers that don’t upgrade are potential suitors for all kinds of upstart vendors (a common big ERP predicament - it's the varying responses that are interesting).

Meantime, Jutras has authored an upbeat, in-depth piece that digs into Infor’s determination to reduce the plague of over-customization by providing customers with specialized “micro-vertical” solutions that intend to connect the last mile, without getting bogged down in coding specs. (Infor: On a Mission to go the last mile).

Mixing in her own research on ERP selection criteria, Jutras issues a substantial blog review of Infor’s cloud ambitions (including their definitions of “Cloud 2.0” and “Cloud 3.0”. I’m a fan of this tactic - letting deep content breathe in the open is a welcome change to paywalls-of-desperation. 

Other standouts

  • Microsoft and Apple - opportunities/predicaments: Several notable pieces on two companies with radically different predicaments (to be fair, most of the predicaments are on the Microsoft side). Constellation’s Holger Mueller actually had to surrender his cell phone (which must have caused some kind of Twitter event withdrawal) in order to get a first hand look at Microsoft’s Hololens, head gear for the global wannabe citizen.  Adrian Bridgwater jotted keynote thoughts at Microsoft Build - I enjoyed these informal notes more than the polished flotsam from the tech press. The (desperate?/brilliant?) decision to give developers tools to port Android and Apple apps onto the Windows mobile platform is another story to watch. Oh, and speaking of desperate/brilliant, here’s more on IBM’s alliance with Apple. 
  • The dangers of algos, and a better way to use data lakes - this piece on the dangers of letting algos make decisions provoked some reader debate, mostly about whether algorithms might be able to make better decisions than humans in cash-strapped bureaucracies. The article details some horror stories of algo-driven mistreatment, and costly human exceptions to predictive policy-making.  As for data lakes, this piece jolted my thinking in a good way by reframing data lakes not as a soft marketing pillow, but as a way to provoke IT departments to experiment beyond the rigidity of their stodgy data warehouses. Author   also makes a clever/useful distinction between data lakes and “data reservoirs,” the latter being preferable due to its sanitary cleansing

Honorable mention

Conflict Avoidance Causes Conflict: Managers Too Nice for Their own Good - An overlooked piece of priceless management wisdom, as in, "I used to be “nice” myself.  But then I realized that being nice wasn’t actually being nice, it was being conflict averse."
Is Salesforce for HR an HCM Game Changer? - Useful info on what may be the more important Salesforce story in the long term.
Salesforce buyout - my speculation - But if you want a bit more informed speculation, here's your fix.
Progress Report - Oracle Cloud makes progress - but key work remains in the cellar - a bird's eye view of Oracle's recent analyst day, in which the complete cloud portfolio was reviewed with joy and vigor.
State of the News Media 2015 - Comprehensive data from Pew Research, including the confirmation that news consumption is now mobile-first.
Twitter Needs New Leadership - A deeper analysis of the woes behind the tumbling stock price - though I'm not sure be-more-like-Facebook is either good or achievable advice.


Overworked businessman
Some of this week’s whiffs had a grim real-world implication about them, like Baltimore police shutting down CNN ("Are we under martial law?" - yikes). And even the big (boring) boxing match had a yucky subtext on domestic abuse and the Mayweather camp banning female journalists who weren't down with the yuck. (p.s. there are lessons-a-plenty for enterprise media in the insider-versus-journalist pickle ESPN keeps souring on).

But not all whiffs are grim, some are just grimly executed, such as this one Den Howlett sent along (for some reason, Facebook's ad server thinks he is in the market for a spiffy graduation outfit):


The consumer tech press had few stumbles this week, though points for panache for calling Microsoft Build a "consumer electronics fever dream" (I'd have gone with "a binge of techno-flatulence". Buzzfeed weighed in on the enterprise side as well, attempting to resolve the Oracle-acquiring-Salesforce rumors, in a piece titled Oracle is not Courting Salesforce, which should have been titled "We think Oracle is not Courting Salesforce at this moment."

Look, any media outlet is welcome to weigh in on a rumor binge, but unless Larry Ellison wrote down on a napkin in front of a notary public that he isn't courting Salesforce, and you scanned that napkin into your piece, the rumors shall continue. A more interesting piece would have explained why Oracle is not currently interested. The rest? Well, one person's "great source" is another's misdirection. For the record, I like Google as a suitor. But I haven't picked out a graduation dress yet...

Officially off-topic

So this latest "robots are coming" piece sparked some debate and got me thinking on the future of work. This startup working on an app to "even" the displaced workforce is one angle. But there's also the curveball of humanity at its cleverest/bravest/most creative.

Take Shelley Smith, the ESPN broadcaster going back to work bald after cancer treatment. Or we can strive for greatness by giving better and more human pressos with these tips from Donny Berkholz. And: the machines still can't beat us at good old Texas Hold 'Em.

Two more post-modern heroes: the Manchester street artist who got his city to fix neglected potholes by drawing penises on them, and the ex-NASA engineer who intends to plant one billion trees using drones.

That's gonna be hard to top - let's get to it. See you next time...

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. ìmyPOVî 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 - all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: SAP, Workday, NetSuite, Oracle and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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