Enterprise hits & misses - August 26

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed August 25, 2013
Jon's cheeky end-of-weekly on which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond - for the week ending August 23, 2013.

A cheeky week-in-review on which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond.

Cheerful Chubby Man

diginomica hit: Managing the sprawl of SaaS, cloud and mobile by Phil Wainewright

quotage: 'Business users love the convenience of being able to sign up for new applications on-demand and use them on any device, any time, any place. IT and security managers are less enamored.'

myPOV: Phil has posted six pieces on identity and access management over July and August - three customer profiles and three vendor Q/As. In this piece he pulls out some underlying themes from the work to date. One takeway? For access management, customers seem to be tackling one app at a time. Contrary to hype, the customers Phil profiled are not jumping into tackling access to a portfolio of apps at once.

The identity plot thickens as customers attempt to open up these apps beyond enterprise walls to customers and suppliers. The big story here is whether IT will be able to re-assert control over hybrid landscapes, or will business users continue to forge ahead and sign their own cloud service agreements.

In the meantime, we'll all be typing in our bloated list of passwords over and over again.  Phil quotes Ping's Andre Durand, who sees a password-free future coming: ' Let’s not forget what the real priority is in identity. That is to wire the world to talk standards so that we can eliminate the password altogether …When we succeed at that, we’re going to live in a different world, where identity is not siloed,' Can't happen soon enough.


Happy children eating apple
diginomica pick: SAP licensing – more clarity or clear as mud? by Dennis Howlett

quotage: 'When there were problems with developer licenses for HANA and mobile, senior executives quickly forced through the necessary changes. Everyone ended up smiling. That tells me that nothing is impossible. In short, the specter of legacy cannot be held up as the excuse that things are too complicated. Everyone knows it and wants to move on. The question is how?'

myPOV: SAP's second license-swap announcement in a month brought a flurry of speculation as SAPwatchers scoured the Internet and tried to put the pieces together (the first swap announcement was cloud-related, see Dennis' coverage here - this new announcement pertained to customer flexibility to terminate license/maintenance fees on older products and transfer those licenses to new products - or perhaps simply terminate old licenses in publicly-unspecified 'limited' conditions)

Den did a good job of parsing he's seen and heard, but he readily admits there is no way to completely dispel the confusion brought on by these complex announcements. Look, when some of SAP's most respected user groups are leading with press releases insisting these license changes are good for customers, that's clearly a good thing for SAP. But in my opinion user groups need to be careful about endorsing changes that prove difficult for the public to understand. The days where SAP can point to Service Marketplace (customer and partner only access) as the place to get needed fine print clarification are numbered.

SAP seems to have perfected the art of the 'PR aftertaste' press release, where the initial buzz is good and then a persistent backlash forms as those looking for details get frustrated (to be fair, SAP recently delivered a very clear press release on partner developer licenses that captures the simplicity I think they were hoping for in this licensing announcement also). Dennis points out that the real win would have been a much more categorical strike: 'SAP has lost an opportunity to wow its customers by saying unequivocally: ‘Yep, get those licenses parked, yep just strike ‘em off the maintenance price.’' 

He quickly acknowledges the top and bottom line hit that would entail and therein lies the debate about SAP's future prospects. Can SAP (or any company struggling with legacy investments for that matter) move forward without taking that kind of hit? SAP seems to think so - we'll see. At any rate this sets up the fall TechEd season nicely with some juicy talking points for customers on the ground to give us their views on.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Big Data Deployment – Planning is everything by Vijay Vijayasankar

quotage: 'A network of big data is my vision of an end game. A network where data is shared across a huge ecosystem where people collaborate securely on data without everyone having to keep a redundant copy and build custom solutions on top.'

myPOV:  Lately, Vijayasankar has been writing low key, sensible posts on big data that are informed by customer conversations and concerns. His latest post raises questions about big data cost, security, and ROI that customers will surely encounter on their big data initiatives. As for me, I'm still resistant to the big data hypefest but these focused posts that don't claim to have all the answers are a good start.

The most compelling use cases I have seen are what I think of as real-time data mashups. Granted, that's a bulky phrase that will never set sail, but the point is that combining enterprise data with new external data sources for real time decision-making is where it gets interesting - from threat analysis to point-of-sale opportunities.

This might involve what we call big data but it's the mashup of new data sources (like geolocation or weather patterns) that captures my attention.  Perhaps Vijayasankar will be inspired to write on this (nudge).

How MOOCs are going to change ERP training by Andy Klee

quotage: 'MOOCs are popularizing virtual training, eLearning, chunking content into digestible bites, and the flipped classroom.  All of these concepts have been a part of ERP training for quite a while, but MOOCs are conditioning millions of students to accept and expect this type of knowledge transfer.  As these students are our future IT staff and end users, ERP training has no choice but to evolve along the same lines.'

myPOV: MOOCs look poised to change how training, certification and even formal degrees are handled. But along with the potential comes the 'MOOCs will change everything' hype festival. Andy Klee of ERPtips is the perfect guy to take his deep ERP team training know-how and filter it through what MOOCs have to offer. He defines classic learning techniques like 'chunking' and 'flipped classrooms' as he goes.

In this piece, the second of a two part series, Andy explains how and when live instructor-led training is needed and where MOOCs can excel. I'm particularly intrigued by 'flipped classrooms' - I wasted far too much time and money in lecture-format classes that regurgitated source material. Why not study that material on your own time and save live instructor item for valuable interaction? MOOCs can do that too, but not all of them take these views into account. Enterprises will need to understand these nuances.

Other recommendations:  If you're up for a deep read, Brian Sommers'
Financial accounting software: Cloud and other winners walks you through his research on the adoption of cloud financials and vertical solutions (Brian gets bonus points for his 'For those of you with attention problems' dig at the beginning of the piece). A shorter piece from SearchFinancialApplications, Are HR and finance systems really better together, hits on related themes with analyst quotage.

With VMworld kicking off today, get some context via Alex Williams' Late To The Game, Is VMware Turning Against OpenStack Or Embracing It? Meanwhile, Eric Kimberling continues a strong series of (short) posts on ERP value realization with Defining ERP Software Business Benefits for Your Organization. (Especially liked 'Don’t force the numbers to tell the story you want to hear').

On the multi-media tip, we've posted a number of videos and commentary from our travels on JD-OD.com, including this one on Understanding Africa (mobile themes) with Simon Griffiths of SYSPRO. On the SAPpier side, the All Access Analytics webinar replay on SAP's BI direction is worth a check (especially the last 30 minute Q/A), and Steve Bogner and gang always do a solid job with HCM topics (SAP and otherwise) on their podcast series. Their latest is on hybrid SAP-cloud HCM implementations.


Overworked businessman
With Steve Ballmer's exit announcement presents a dilemma for your digital media outlet. First, the news is big enough to warrant a mention (yes, we covered it too), but soon you are headed down the road of non-sensical speculation. A slew of Ballmer riffs added meager value. When you start a piece by mentioning how many times you've met Bill Gates versus Steve Ballmer, you've lost me at hello.

Then there is the navel-gazing time waste of whether Gates snubbed Ballmer in his announcement and how that effects their longstanding bromance (though there was at least a bit of fresh sourced info in that one). The biggest whiff might go to this piece which laments Ballmer's tenure while belaboring the obvious (that Microsoft has lost some mojo). What threw me off was the envious ahistorical comparisons to Apple, Amazon, and Google (I could have sworn Facebook was mentioned in the initial post as well).

Context anyone? Microsoft has had to labor in the exhaust fumes of Apple before, which itself is arguably heading into some leadership/innovation swampland of its own. Google, last time I checked, is still deriving the overwhelming majority of its income from its declining search business while alienating everyone in sight, from Reader and Gmail loyalists to privacy advocates - oh, and anyone who thought Chromecast might allow them to stream content they actually felt like watching.

Amazon I will accept - between eCommerce lock-in and hugely successful cloud forays, but overall this is the kind of sloppy coverage that overlooks points that matter - especially to the enterprise, where Microsoft has plenty of assets yet to be squandered, not the least of which is ERP traction in the SME/midmarket. I still think a Surface-like tablet has enterprise potential as a desktop replacement, though I'm not putting money down on it at this time. Enterprise nuance can wait, I suppose. We may be waiting a while.

Officially off-topic

It was a terrific week for conspiracy buffs, with the CIA finally acknowledging that Area 51 does exist. Oh, and a Scientific American blogger has validated some of the science behind Elon Musk's Hyperloop, though he is just as skeptical of Musk's $1 billion land cost estimate as I was. A Florida fraternity is the latest to learn that 'private' groups on Facebook aren't so private when it comes to dealing pharmaceutical products. If you're not sick of Steve Ballmer, this one minute video pitching Windows 1.0 is vintage.

On a more serious note, Jay Rosen's riff on the threat to journalism by the modern surveillance state is required reading/discussion. Kevin Spacey just gave a nifty lecture on the future of storytelling, and if you can spare an hour, you can see the full replay on YouTube. Music: I've been rocking to "Hail to the King" by Avenged Sevenfold while wrapping this piece. For a sec I thought I had time-warped to the musical mecca of the mid-90s. They should probably send half their royalties to Metallica (the vocal similarities are particularly striking), but that's a catchy tune indeed (it's on Spotify and YouTube and iTunes stream or pre-order).

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

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: SAP is a diginomica premier partner as of this writing. ERPtips was one a long term client of Jon's, but there has been no financial relationship the last five years.

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