Enterprise hits and misses - HR tech gets botified, SAP gets new CEOs, and ERP confronts agility - again

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed October 14, 2019
This week - SAP breaks the enterprise web again with a sudden CEO shakeup. HR technology hype shifts to bots - but are the machines ready? Time for ERP vs agile (again), and I get botified as well.


Lead story - HR technology in the spotlight - it's a crazy, mixed up HR tech world

MyPOV: Since Brian's scathing disappointment last year over HR/AI puppies and rainbows tech hype, I've been eager to see if 2019 would find redemption.

Well, we have our answer in Brian's HR Technology Conference 2019 - it’s a crazy, mixed up HR technology world out there. This year, Brian says it was all about the bots:

Bots were all some people could talk about at the show. Everyone, it seems, has one in development or available via slideware.  And there were also plenty of vendors that had Bot + Workflow + Exception Handing capabilities, too. A couple of folks snuck in machine learning with their bots to make them “intelligent” bots.

But before HR buyers go bot shopping, Brian's got a reality biscuit for us to gnaw on:

  • Nothing material is ready for prime time today.
  • If a customer actually wants to use this technology, it might require some time-consuming and expensive custom configuration work.
  • No vendor could produce process flows of their proposed ‘reimagined’ workflow.
  • Only one vendor has realized that the conversational language a bot must use in dealing with your employees cannot be the same copy that exists in your lawyer approved employee manual.
  • Most bots are a one-trick pony – Finding a vendor with more than one bot is like finding a cable company with great customer service. They may not exist.

It's not all vinegar for Brian at HR Tech though:

I wish more firms would send more people to this event if only to see what the new art of the possible can be for HR.

The art of the possible in Las Vegas? Hmm, I think I'm staying at the wrong hotels... As for not-ready-for-prime-time bots, read on, my discerning friends.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Leadership change at SAP -

So, SAP made a big move and blew up everyone's weekend again the enterprise web, creating a backchannel scuttlebutt for the ages. Den issued his analysis in SAP - Klein and Morgan come in as co-CEOs as McDermott steps down:

If Klein can deliver on his early promises, it will set a good tone for improving the relationships with customers and users, which many consider at best, 'difficult.'

The co-CEO role has a proven history at SAP, which is noted in Den's update/reaction from the chairman of the UK&I SAP User group. That said, I think these two CEOs have the toughest challenge of any SAP pair to date. Den added some highlights from my interview with McDermott, Morgan, and Klein - I'll have more on that this week. For now, we should also take the SAP TechEd  season into account. Den does that in SAP TechEd 2019 Barcelona - first impressions.

More event reports as the diginomica team fanned out:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Cath put the breaks on Ada Lovelace feel-good sentiment with a more realistic gut check in Women in IT - Ada Lovelace would be horrified by the lack of progress, argues Red Hat's Margaret Dawson. But the piece ends on an inspiring note, sharing the impact on leadership and mentoring: "Dawson says there is now a “hunger to change,” even if people do not necessarily know how to go about doing so."

Kurt took a needed breather from cloud security, steered around Apple fanboys and fangirls, and posted Why you should care about ultra-wideband - fine-grained location sensing isn’t just for lost luggage.  Turns out UWB, in addition to enabling an intriguing range of consumer applications, checks off some of Kurt's security boxes as well.

Meanwhile, I try not to get geeked up about a freaking app put one product above others; I wouldn't cut it on Instagram anyhow , but when one mobile event app is mopping the floor with the others, I have to ask: why? (Most event apps are stuck in legacy mode, but Whova isn't - a progress report from Controlling 2019).

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Limiting myself to five quick hits this week; blame it on the tarmac. 

ERP Agility: You’re Not as Agile as You Think - UpperEdge's Shawn Stamp re-opens the ERP and Agile debate with this nuanceful post. (Yeah, nuanceful isn't a word, but maybe it should be?). Stamp:

 Unlike most Agile efforts where a single product owner has complete ownership and visibility of the solution, ERP projects are so large that each process team/workstream typically has its own product owner (RTR, OTC, etc.).  Whereas a typical Agile project has the ability to pivot quickly in response to changes in requirements (the destroyer), the integrated nature of ERP systems means that changes to one part of the system have the potential to break your business processes.

Yeah. ERP-at-scale is when "fail fast and break things" doesn't work out so well. On the flip side, Josh Greenbaum penned one of the most original posts of the year in The Myth of Account Control and The Challenge of Software Heterogeneity. Greenbaum: 

Too many times the large on-prem apps vendors – Infor, Oracle and SAP, to pick on the largest amongst them  – talk about innovation in terms that posit an all-or-nothing  scenario, turning a blind eye to the fallaciousness of account control. Those messages, coming down on high from the marketing machines of each of these companies, become edicts that are then “enforced” by field sales force worst practices and compensation plans that favor selling “more” over selling what the customer really needs or wants.

Time to call some peeps out:

It’s time to stop pretending that the best scenario for your customers is to adopt one of everything you sell.

Honorable mention

  • How To Improve Your CPQ Pricing Strategies - Louis Columbus examines how manufacturers improve price management. That matters when you consider that manufacturers with more than $100M in sales generates typically generate 40 percent or more of their sales through indirect channels.
  • Payments giants abandon Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency - I'd call this a bump in the road but it's more like Death Race 2000 - both for Facebook and crytocurrency in general. The casualties are as inevitable as the winners.
  • The Passion Economy and the Future of Work - This Andreesen Horowitz piece is far too idealistic for my taste, but a "passion economy" where creators monetize is definitely preferable to the mediocre subservience of the gig economy.

Overworked businessman


Travel has its tarmac purgatory, but also its moments:

Kurt pounced on one of the week's PR lowlights, and did the strikethrough honors:

And speaking of the botification of everything, I got botified this week, and good:

A human from Drift offered an inadequate reply, but hey, credit for doing so and doing it promptly, on the weekend no less. As long as a few leads convert... If I keep this up, maybe I'll get a speaking gig at Hereticon:

See you next time...

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang. 

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua. Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, IFS, ServiceMax and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.