Enterprise hits and misses - June 16

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed June 15, 2013
A cheeky end-of-weekly on which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond - for the week ending June 14, 2013.

A cheeky end-of-weekly on which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond.

Cheerful Chubby Man

diginomica hit: Why the SAP Mentor program sucks by Dennis Howlett

quotage: 'Rather than being a club of inward facing techies, I’d love to see an expansion that draws from the business innovation world, that invites participation from a world with which SAP sometimes struggles to connect. In short, I’d like to see the Mentor program lead and better reflect the world that SAP is starting to occupy. A continuation of the past is not an option.'

myPOV: In the most commented piece (by far) in diginomica's short history, Dennis, well, he goes off. SAP Mentors initially took offense; a passionate and ultimately productive discussion ensued. But if you are not an SAP Mentor, should you care about this back-and-forth? I say yes. See for yourself, but my view is that anyone who works for a company that cares about influencer relations - and I hazard to say that's most of our readers - can find something useful in this juicy comment thread.

As for my fellow SAP Mentors, they've been waiting all week for me to comment on this post, so, here goes:

  • No, I didn't think much of the title (the original or the revised). A more uncomfortable question is: would there have been the same level of reader engagement with a less provocative title? An even more uncomfortable question: do sensational and/or extreme titles ultimately hurt the credibility of the media properties they appear on, despite the initial traffic boost? I'm giving a tentative no to the first question and a tentative yes to the second but I would hope we can move past the title as many of the commenters ultimately did.
  • Dennis' central point about the SAP Mentors needing to move outside of 'inward SAP specialties' and lead the way into a more expansive world is spot-on.
  • Being defensive is counter-productive; making constructive use of dissent is a show of strength. Public conversations can be painful but have an uncanny way of lancing the boil.
  • If no SAP Mentors respond, that's a real indictment; that's going through the motions. The comment thread showed me something - on all sides.
  • To use Dennis' own terminology, this conversation is why so many vendors' social media efforts suck. Transparency is a beast. See the article comments if you have any doubt about that.
  • Dennis underestimated the SAP Mentors' willingness to challenge each other in his initial rant; it's one of the main reasons I'm still involved. Doesn't mean outside challenges like his aren't productive also. Given the conversations since this post it's entirely possible Dennis would have framed his critique differently (though I'm sure he would not alter his central point). That's the value of getting into the fray and hashing things out. We are usually the better for it and I believe that's true in this case. I would hope diginomica can spark more debates of this kind. Do you really want to read any more sanitized puff pieces? No? Good, because that's not what we're about either.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica pick: Government paces cloud development in China by Phil Wainewright

quotage: 'I have just returned from a short visit to China as part of a EuroCloud delegation to the 5th China Cloud Computing Conference in Beijing, invited by the Chinese Institute of Electronics (CIE). Although I was not there as a Diginomica writer, I’d like to share some impressions here as the trip gave a valuable insight into the evolution of the cloud in China.'

myPOV: Phil's firsthand account of his 'cloudy' trip to China makes for a fascinating read. It was interesting, if not totally surprising, to learn that in China, there are similar tensions between top-down approaches and more grassroots cloud projects just like anywhere else.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
G2 Crowd – disrupting the Gartner quadrant model  by Gary Menegaz

quotage: 'At its core, G2 Crowd is about building a trusted source of business technology reviews through the use of crowdsourcing… sort of a Yelp for business reviews. More than this, co-founder Matt Gorniak wants to disrupt the Gartner quadrant model for the dissemination of high quality, unbiased research and data to buyers and investors in business technology.'

myPOV: One of my core views on the enterprise is that no vendors (or analysts) should ever get too comfortable. Gartner's Magic Quadrant is one of the few industry stalwarts that hasn't been adequately disrupted. But maybe G2 Crowd can change that. Still in somewhat of an early stage with a few thousand users largely from the founders' personal networks, G2 Crowd combines something I really like (peer reviewed information) with two things I'm much less comfy with (gamification and crowd-sourced opinions).

I find myself doubting whether a crowdsourced site could ever win the level of trust the Gartner MQ has, whether or not that trust is fully deserved. I did like this: 'Again, the G2 Crowd model is a unique, trusted business model which doesn't rely on vendors for revenue.' I"m not sure why Menegaz is convinced that the G2 Crowd model is already trusted, seems to me like it still has a lot to prove - but revenue models that don't draw from vendors are always welcome, gamified or not.

HP Gets Its Big Data Act Together by Doug Henschen
quotage: 'The depth and breadth of what HP is putting forward with HAVEn is matched and, in some areas, surpassed by competitors including Oracle and IBM, with the latter offering a broader trove of software and services. But for HP customers, this is a step forward in turning a collection of assets into a cohesive approach to big data.'

myPOV: The HP HAVEn story got modest press coverage and is now off the radar screen again, but it could be a story to track. I'm not sure the consumer tech press even realizes HP has enterprise plays beyond printer cartridges. Meanwhile, HP must be glad that the much-maligned Autonomy acquisition comes into play here. (The all-time awkard HAVEn acronym stands for the combined tool set of Autonomy, Hadoop, Vertica, HP Enterprise Security and other alphabet soup mixed in somehow).

The Reports of the Death of ERP Systems Have Been Greatly Exaggerated by Eric Kimberling
quotage: 'While it is probably safe to assume that something needs to change in the industry, it is also not likely that ERP systems are going anywhere anytime soon. Not only did the detractors have it wrong back in 2001, but those that think traditional ERP systems are going to die anytime soon are misinformed as well.'

myPOV: I enjoy Eric's work because he tends to balance his own survey data with his own views from the field. You could argue as a specialist in ERP vendor selection, amongst other things, Eric has a stake in ERP as a whole, but overall, he tends to be vendor-agnostic and open to cloud solutions. Eric could have talked more about the impact of cloud ERP in this piece; I wasn't clear if his points applied more to on-premise ERP. Arguing for the continued health of on-premise ERP is a steeper hill to climb. Of his arguments for the staying power of ERP, I view globalization and regulatory/compliance issues as the two trends that are most likely to contribute to the continued health of the ERP market. But I will not be surprised to see cloud ERP get further upmarket than he seems to be implying here - something to take up with Eric in the future.


from JD-OD.com: With Dennis back from Ariba LIVE, we've posted a customer video interview, Getting control of maverick spending at Storebrand. Dennis also dug into Ariba's network strategy with Ariba SVP Tim Minahan.
from the interweb: For the lowdown on Apple's WWDC event (including iOS7 and iRadio announces), check out the keynote replay. In this TED talk replay, Andrew McAfee ruminates on the future of work and whether all of our jobs will be replaced by robots.


Overworked businessman
They say a fool and his money are soon parted. Come to think of it, that would make a good tagline for fool.com, where dangerously simplistic views on the enterprise appear on an alarmingly regular basis. Mediocre enterprise blogs are hardly a rare phenomenon, but when those blogs appear on a site designed to inform investors, the caution flags go up. The latest in a long line of offendors? Why SAP is poised to outperform, which relies on this quote from 'John Stuart Mill':  'Very high profit margin company generating lots of cash. Always redefining itself as the market changes. Now it's cloud computing where the market is still in its infancy and growing fantastically.'

That's it. That's the analysis. A more persuasive argument would be why investors should buy SAP even though its cloud growth could not prevent worse-than-expected first quarter earnings. On the other hand, I probably shouldn't worry people will read too much into articles posted on a domain called fool.com, right?

Final swings

I've had very little nice to say about Google lately. Between their pending annihilation of Reader, their Instagramming of Google Plus, and their continued wacky redesigns of gmail, I'm genuinely baffled their obsession with design simplicity over if-it-ain't-broke, don't-fix-it - still my favorite design principle of all time. Google's version of design simplicity seems to be: hide important features, reduce functionality and alienate hardcore users in lust for an (indifferent) mass audience.

That said, Google's audacious plan, dubbed Project Loon, to supply millions of the world's more remote inhabitants with Internet via high flying balloons, is one of the reasons I can't quit this company. There's a bad country song in here somewhere. Oh, and while I'm taking final swings, I don't know what's worse, that The Verge can get away with calling this two paragraph summary of someone else's report a 'story.' or that it can get more than 200 comments worth of reader traction on nothing.

Officially off-topic

My favorite tech(ish) headline of the week? It's hard to beat Are alien-hunting scientists going to trigger a planetary invasion? Though there was stiff competition from Floating public pool that filters New York's East River seeks crowdfunding. I also got a sadistic kick out of mySpace deletes hundreds of thousands of blogs without warning and the resulting message thread (mySpace evidently deleted users' personal inboxes also - oh Tom, why'd you have to do me like that?). As a Eudora user I have a permanent soft spot for laggards...

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

Most of these 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, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa - all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: Jon has served as an SAP Mentor volunteer since 2008.

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