Enterprise hits and misses - December 15

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed December 15, 2014
Jon's cheeky weekly review of which enterprise software articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica & beyond - for the week ending December 14, 2014.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica pick: SaaS economics by Den

quotage: "What happens in 2015-16 will hinge upon how well the SaaS providers can continue to convince the market that SaaS economics play out to profit in the long haul and at a substantially lower cost base than the alternatives. The problem is that after 15 or more years, that has not happened. And growth or no, cash or no, history tells me that you can’t trade on an forever in the expectation of a continually rising stock price."

myPOV: Den published a significant think piece on SaaS economics in two parts. In, SaaS economics Part 1: it’s not looking promising, Den uses research by David Skok to analyze growth (and impediments to profitability) for SaaS companies. Of particular interest are the customer acquisition costs (dictating high marketing and sales costs), which keep the run rates of SaaS companies high to maintain growth, funded by (IMO) precariously high stock market valuations.

Den wonders if the situation is tenable, which he digs into in part two, SaaS economics, Part 2: price rises on the way?, wherein he compares a 15 year growth period between Salesforce.com and SAP and raises questions about the potential for SaaS profitability based on that exercise. What does this mean for buyers? Will SaaS prices go up? In Den's final take, he ponders that issue. But wait - don't draw any firm conclusions yet. A pretty reliable little birdie chirped in my ear that a part three is coming.

Happy children eating apple
Customer use cases:
  • Connected Homes data brings British Gas closer to customers - Phil details the efforts of British Gas to go from 10 minutes a year of customer interaction to a continual relationship, using frequent data collection to provide consumers with the "connected home" experience.
  • RBS makes people analytics count - Janine Milne files another interesting HCM use case, with some of the sharpest comments on data versus actual insight I've seen. As Milne explains, RBS has found its way to performance insight via people-centric metrics like leadership, customer focus and engagement.
  • RAM Tracking’s New Year resolution to improve sales compensation - Jessica's on the case again with the story of RAM Tracking's challenges with sales commission calculation, and how they plan to solve it with Xactly's solution. Increased visibility into deal tracking is another factor in play.

Vendor coverage

High points

Digital governance ups and downs - Fresh off the Think Cloud Vendor conference in London, Stuart and Derek posted provocative pieces on UK digital governance challenges. Kick things off with Stuart's Unprofessional outsourcing decisions still haunt government digital future, which takes a hard look at the UK's potential to get out from under big ticket outsourcing contracts. Meantime, Derek's Amazon-style ratings on G-Cloud being delayed due to fear of legal threats reports on that dreaded innovation obstacle, fear of litigation. Then, in  Government-as-a-platform could be a big win for the UK – but what’s the strategy? Derek explains why his support for UK's government-as-a-platform plan is tempered by what he sees as a lack of strategic clarity.

Jon's grab bag - Derek had one of diginomica's best moments to date with NetBiscuits CEO comes out as gay and urges other gay CEOs to go public. As NetBiscuit's Daniel Weisbeck said to Derek, "Tim Cook has stood up, he has started a dialogue and that dialogue has to continue. I would never say don’t hire a straight, white man, but at the same time I think the best teams are the most diverse ones." I would add that an increased openness about our sexual identities breaks down the rigidity that makes the corporate workplace a drag for so many, which leads us to Den's The confusion over workplace happiness. As he deconstructs a recent post by Jacob Morgan, Den raises questions about how much power the typical employee has. As for me, I'm not sure Morgan's "new workplace" is as new as he thinks, but that's for another time.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
2014 was a year of cloud rules, marketing tech integrations and mobile-is-really-first, no more BS - Information Week's Doug Henschen posted a terrific wrap of the enterprise year that was, including the aforementioned topics as well as ubiquitous analytics, and software licenses under the microscope. Cool format as well, linking back to prior articles. Bonus: Henschen also posted a review of a BI buyer's guide that factors customer reviews into the results, and how their methodology works.
  • The ERP monolith begins to unravel sort of - Using Vinnie Mirchandani's SAP Nation book as a starting point, ZDNet's Joe McKendrick hypothesizes on the end of the line for legacy ERP. Me: it's hard to question the unravelling, but the question is whether the new market will belong solely to upstarts, or will some incumbents push through? Brian Sommer also hits on these themes (and more) in a two-for-one book review column, Book Reviews: SAP Nation and Stacking the Deck.
  • What Can CIOs Expect in 2015? - I was going to say, "change or perish," which is kind of what Ian Cox wrote in his blog post, but with more gravitas. As Cox sees it, digital business demands new things of the CIO. He decries the "phony war" between CIOs and CMOs (preach!), and why the skills needed for digital transformation will lead to more CIOs from a non-IT background. And: CIOs will transition to a services brokerage model. Oh, and if they don't, then yeah, Cox sees the perishable date rapidly approaching.
  • Multi-media - Some fun multi-media this week for your commuting joy: The Gillmor Gang issued a rare "enterprise edition" live from the Salesforce.com analyst summit 2014. Holger Mueller continues his breezy video #ensw wraps, with a combo recap covering two weeks of Muellerisms. And: Steve Bogner and gang roll on with another SAP HCM podcast, HR Renewal and Fiori from an HR perspective.
  • It's alive - IBM/Apple partnership delivers its first industry-specific app - The strange bedfellows have been busy making weight on their partnership. Constellation's Ray Wang provides a deeper analysis, including a blow-by-blow reaction to the IBM/Apple news items, including the release of the first ten industry apps. Wang's handy chart details all ten of the new apps. Now let's see if customers open their wallets.

Honorable mention

Sony Hackers Offer to Withhold Stolen Data From Promised Leak - Not the most important piece on this scary/important story, but there's a collection of links includes for anyone wearing a security hat who needs to CSI this one.
The Down Low on Data Lakes - Nice to see a piece on data lakes that is (thankfully!) practical and full of pros and cons, rather than big data pixie dust.
Cloud Foundry Outsources its Foundation as Open Source Management Continues to Evolve - Cloud Foundry took some big steps into its adolescence this year - which may set up 2015 as the so-called "year of the platform" after all.
Salesforce.com Says Build Your Own App Store - Agreed: though easier said than done. Customer embrace of apps stores is a topic to track in 2015.
Cisco double-digit growth? This exec says it's doable - Cisco's 30 year anniversary has the company at a crossroads between Internet of Things infrastructure leader and obsolescence. This piece lays it out.
How Online Influence is Shifting the Sales Process - Some notable stats on changing buyer behavior.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott: How to Win in Your Career - Don't know about you, I'll take career advice from Bill McDermott anytime...



Overworked businessman
I enjoy re/code, but if this kind of cut/paste jobber, where you're basically stealing Google News traffic from another site with no added value, is a view of future browsing, then I'm gonna squander my clicks somewhere else (Boing Boing does this incessantly, removing any credibility a name like "Boing Boing" had to begin with).

The perils of blog deadlines: this nutty professor (brought to my attention by Frank Scavo, who has a keen eye for boneheads) decided to go to war over a $4 Chinese menu pricing error, disgracing himself in the process. Nutty doesn't surprise me, but the Consumerist taking the side of the professor did. To be fair, it was just one writer, who soon had to backtrack after the professor apologized. But it gets worse - turns out the nutty prof has gone ballistic on service providers before.

It's always rough when you take a position on a story that is quickly undermined by both history and new events. The best thing is to say "I got this one wrong" and move on. But Consumerist writer Chris Morran took a different tack, writing 'Apparently the Internet didn’t side with the prof, who is now apologizing.'

First off, it would be nice to think that the professor apologized because he'd lost perspective on human decency, not because the Internet told him to. Second, while I appreciate pushing back against the Internet herd, sometimes - hold onto your britches - the herd is right.

Taking unpopular stands is practically a civic duty these days. But maybe such stands shouldn't be squandered on bullies who play the "Harvard professor" card to browbeat service providers with the overrated power of the pretentious influential consumer. (Neither the Consumerist nor the author responded to my Twitter critiques and exciting factual updates, now I'm stopping so that I don't become that which I am criticizing). Hopefully they've moved on to muckraking causes that actually matter to Consumers, like the lawsuit against Comcast's nutjob wifi agenda.

Officially off-topic

Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" mercifully ended its three season exercise in undermining Sorkin's career prospects last night, but I kinda agree with his editorial scolding journalists for getting gossip column mileage out of the SONY hack. And yeah, this particular hack is pretty damned terrifying, unless you still send messages by raven and parchment.

Hey, did you know that there was such a thing as "lumbersexuals?" And that they are making a bearded comeback, which they seem to do when masculinity is in crisis? I might not put "lumbersexual" on my Facebook page just yet though...

Meantime, go get yourself a cool new badass advertising job title. (Mine was "Media analytics brand ambassador for demographic experimental client communications"). On a more inspiring note, I've never wanted to buy a stock photo more than I do now, from this collection of stock photos that only feature cancer patients and survivors. (The profits go to cancer patient therapy, so get some stock photos this holiday season!)

Media: TV critic Alan Sepinwall pretty much nailed it with How once-great 'Sons of Anarchy' ran off the road before the end (spoilers). I watched to the bitter end of the series anyhow, and man was it bitter. Tip for showrunner Kurt Sutter: don't lower your own bar by calling your show a soap opera, then achieving that goal. I'll have to save my thoughts on "Homeland"'s surprising resurgence into a watchable show for another time. See you then.

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, Santa Claus sitting at home and writing on old paper roll to do © Kirill Kedrinski - all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: SAP and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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