Enterprise hits and misses - Sage renounces ERP moniker, Windows 10 (almost) renounces privacy

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed August 3, 2015
Jon's cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn't) - on diginomica and beyond. In this edition: Sage renounces the ERP moniker, debate ensues. Dystopian futures pondered, algorithms from hell identified: Plus: a mini-Windows 10 privacy roast.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit: Sage drops the word 'ERP' from product line, debate ensues - Sage Summit coverage by Derek du_Preez

quotage: "Stephen Kelly isn’t a man that likes to waste any time. It’s only been about eight months since he was appointed as the new CEO of Sage, one of the largest providers of ERP to the mid-market, and he has already…erm…killed off ERP." - Derek

myPOV: Sometimes heading to New Orleans in muggy August pays off. Derek kicked off his coverage with Sage drops term ‘ERP’ from product line: “It stands for Expense, Regret, Pain”. Now, technically Sage is not dropping ERP functionality from its products. so Kelly's move is more symbolic and/or PR-related - an attempt to distance Sage from what Kelly perceives as a term that invokes complexity and pain for customers.

Derek followed that up with an interview with Kelly (Sage CEO Stephen Kelly on not forcing cloud, the end of ERP and leaving government). This frank interview also sparked debate, with one commenter questioning whether other ERP vendors are forcing cloud on customers. Like other ERP vendors going through a transformation, Kelly is saying the right things about executing. I'm not sure the end of ERP pronouncement amounts to more than a PR stunt (if a quick tweet is any indication, at least one other ERP vendor hopes to take advantage of Sage's new positioning). But when Sage does put actions behind those sentiments, such as the unexpected tie-up with Salesforce, the story becomes intriguing.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica five: my completely subjective "top five" (or so) stories on diginomica this week
  • Defining - and deflating - the Internet of Things - In Something of an IoT Primer, part one and part two, Martin Banks shares the views of "Accenture’s IoT hot-shot, Craig McNeil". Martin's piece is a contrast to Den's Beware the Internet of Things – it’s early, security sucks and the C-Suite doesn’t care, a vintage hype deconstruction which argues that the IoT is not a C-Suite priority, and snarks about how Benioff is getting on with his magic toothbrush. But, as Martin says in his intro, "Accenture takes an understandably different view."
  • Weird Fish reels in NetDespatch to avoid online delivery hiccups - Third party delivery is a customer service headache for countless retailers. In her latest use case, Jessica shares how UK retailed Weird Fish solved the problem, and reduced order processing and dispatch times by 50 percent, and created a more transparent delivery process for customers. Nifty.
  • Digital dystopia, algorithms from hell, and the robots are us - In a provocative three parter, Chris Middleton takes us on a tour of the digital dark side, armed with unsettling facts and alarming anecdotes. We start with Digital dystopia - we are the robots, where Chris argues that the robots are already here (see: Japanese robo-receptionist), and if we don't take action, we'll get the robots we deserve. In Digital dystopia - when algorithms attack, Chris tells the story of a neighbor who fell on the wrong side of an algorithm, and the absurdity that ensued. The banking industry gets a spanking in the process. Digital Dystopia – the snooper’s nightmare wraps up this feel-good series, but not without some calls to action.

Vendor analysis, diginomica style - Den gamely sorts confusing earnings reports for us yet again this week, with Tableau Q2 FY2015 beats estimates, increases outlook, market hammers the stock being the first head scratcher ("I say that sell side analysts have once again demonstrated that they serve as a massive distraction for CEOs.") Den also took on Service Now (ServiceNow beats on Q2 FY2015, flat outlook, markets relieved), but in this case markets were relieved by a comparative rebound - got it?

Martin looks at the missing piece of Microsoft's plans for world (re-domination) in Partners help Microsoft join the real cloud world. Meantime, Den weighed in on two SAP stories of note, starting with Propex slashes SAP maintenance costs with 3PM but that’s not all, a Rimini Street use case packed with info on why third party maintenance is disrupting the ERP market, and why a company might choose third party ERP maintenance while innovating on other fronts.

Den also put SAP's new HCP pricing web site under the user experience microscope in SAP HCP pricing is here but the site is almost unusable (Den reports on Twitter that SAP is now taking action to address the issues raised).

Jon's grab bag -  Janine explores the enterprise viability of fitness wearables in The case for wearables in business – wearing well or wearing thin? (short version: health implications are swell, but data privacy issues linger). Den takes another blast at our so-called connected lives in We live in the Dark Ages – what should be connectedness and processes are broken.

But he leaves us on a differen note in Microsoft's secret culture weapon - art, which profiles the work of artist Hugh MacLeod and his Microsoft engagement. Just when we thought "brand storytelling" was a unusable cliché, there are some neat stories here that show what's possible (example: the story of a person with hearing disabilities and how they've succeeded at Microsoft.)

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Sage Says ERP is Dead. What (I think) They Really Mean Is….  by Cindy Jutras

quotage: "Of course proclaiming ERP to be dead is not new news. Headlines along these lines started appearing shortly after Y2K (which proved to be somewhat of a non-event.) They were attention grabbing for a while and then they began to fade away, only to reappear periodically. So… with this revival does Sage intend to stop selling products that have been labeled “ERP?” No. It just won’t call them that anymore."

myPOV: In the standout piece of the week, Cindy Jutras takes a nuanced look at Sage's "ERP is dead" proclamation, contrasting with her own research findings on "next generation ERP." Jutras argues that "If you somehow got the sense that all ERP implementations are failures, I would disagree and can share some very impressive results from those I have determined to be 'World Class.'"

Jutras also argues that any ERP shortcomings did not imply malicious intent, but were the result of the technical limitations of the time. She goes on to say, "I think a lot of ERP vendors did the best they could with the technology they had available at any given time." There is a great deal of truth to that, though I'd argue that the problem was excacerbated by the market conditions: most of these big ERP players were publicly traded companies, spurred by a relentless pursuit of revenue growth, driven by aggressive salespeople who often overpromised functionality to get deals done.

Customers did not have the ERP sophistication and user group know-how they do today - instead they were influenced by a booming market and Y2K related fears. The common ground between Jutras, Sage and myself is likely that today's ERP vendors are serving customers better, with better software and value props.

Other standouts

  • An early proponent of devops speaks out -  Now that devops has picked up momentum, Chef's co-founder and CTO Adam Jacob wants to set the record straight: devops is about people/cultural change more than tech (The Secret Of DevOps: It's Always Been About People, Not Technology).
  • Has Microsoft blown it? Part II - Enough of the happy Microsoft stories; let's return to the dark side of opportunities squandered. Cue Oliver Marks, who posted the second installment in his skeptics' series. As Marks concedes, he was "previously very flattering" about Office/Sharepoint/Office 365. So what's changed? Because Microsoft is now a software supplier "much less anchored in an operating system and hardware world they own."
  • Vishal Sikka reflects on Infosys, year one - I'm not ordinarily a fan of spiritual platitudes and waxing philosophical in my enterprise blog picks, but I make an exception for Vishal Sikka, because he is somehow able to translate such sentiments into cultural change/inspiration inside the companies he works for. And I like that he often posts on his own Wordpress blog, without undue fanfare. This is his year one reflections, Sikka style.

Honorable mention

The lack of ethics in enterprise AI and intelligent automation - Research-backed musings on why automation is changing labor investments, and why a "future of work" conversation matters.
The cloud is becoming exactly what it sought to replace - An overly concise piece that makes the beginning of an argument on why cloud is becoming the new normal, in a "meet the new boss/same as the old boss", multi-year contracts kind of way.
Determining the Best Oracle On-Premise Licensing Model for Your Company – Component, ELA, or ULA  - Not wild about the sales pitch at the end, but I like the effort to provide contractual details/advice.
CRM Watchlist 2015 Winners: The reviews march on to Blackbaud and Gigya - The actual winners interest me less than the criteria and effort behind the selections.
10 Customer Experiences You Need To Deliver Today - Bland-sounding title, but the contents form a useful checklist.


Overworked businessman
I already took G+ to the woodshed Friday (Friday roast – Google spins Google+, gives masterclass in bad blogging), so they're off the table. Who's next? How'z about United Airlines? I give CEO Jeff Smisek credit for his brutal honesty (Checked Bag Fees Are Here To Stay, Just Part Of Doing Business). But isn't he pretty much a massive tool? Consumerist: "The airline’s CEO Jeff Smisek defended the fees, noting that some passengers have '“difficulty recognizing that we’re now a business.”'

They criticize us if we charge for more legroom. Let me tell you though: that’s what businesses do.” Correction, Mr. Smisek: that's what businesses like yours do in monopolistic industries where disruptors are unable to provide enough pressure. You, sir, are in dire need of a spanking from a truly competitive market.

I'm doing my part by (almost) never flying your airline, which saves me the trouble of wondering if I might end up spending the night in an unheated military bunker while your employees sleep in warm hotel beds. Bouncing people (including spouses of frequent flyers) off of reserved seats is another nice touch. Nice business you got there.

OK, so I know that Microsoft is off to a spiffy start with its Windows 10 launch (14 million users downloaded it the first day), but I'd ask you to consider if these issues might backfire:

Oh, and Microsoft also adds Windows 10 pimpware to older Windows machines (I've got it on mine now). I'm sure there's more, but so far, seems like the launch is going great. Just remember, if you upgrade to Windows 10, set aside a weekend to reconfigure obscure privacy settings - either that or take pride in knowing that when Microsoft thinks your computer is "idle," it will leverage you... There must a way for United Airlines to partner with Microsoft on some of this.

Officially off-topic

While I'm in a ticked off mood - and look, I know there's bigger fish to fry than this - but I find it depressing that a hitchhiking robot that made it all the way across Canada and Germany couldn't even get out of Philly. Nice job 'merica, real nice (and no, I'm not getting into the whole lion-hunter thing, decapitating robots is all I can take today). Adding to the buzzkill, word is that the cowboy and the Indian in The Village People are at war. Yeesh, I thought we settled that one.

But on the feelgood side, I like this college president who moonlights as an Uber driver to better understand modern work. It's also cool that Facebook published its managing bias course for anyone to consume (I may take it and write about it). And I'm not sure about Facebook's solar-powered drones, but I like the boldness of that venture better than newsfeed modifications.

If you need something immediate to power your Monday, my Twitter followers liked this epic Foo Fighters 1,000 musician fan tribute from Australia. (no word yet if If you want to go much deeper into my musical rabbit hole, go for this vintage glam/pop/punk confection, Adolescent Sex by Japan (1978), from the cult classic album of the same name.

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. '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, at the seaside © olly - Fotolia.com - all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: SAP, Workday, Rimini Street, Infosys and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

Update: fixed important typo 7pm ET 8/3 via Frank Scavo - thx.