Enterprise hits & misses - March 10

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed March 9, 2014
Jon's cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond - for the week ending March 9, 2014.

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

Cheerful Chubby Man

diginomica hit:
Microsoft event coverage by Phil Wainewright and Den Howlett

quotage: 'This was a different Microsoft than the one I’m used to: using an iPad to demonstrate OneDrive on stage during the keynote; announcing a mobile toolkit for Android and posting the code on GitHub; and pushing an uncompromising cloud first message.' - Phil

myPOV: It was refreshing to see Microsoft social banter finally move beyond navel-gazing 'What I think about the new CEO' flotsam. The diginomica team did the divide and conquer routine, with Den at Microsoft Convergence in Orlando and Phil at the Sharepoint 2014 show in Las Vegas, where he filed the above story. Den posted twice on Microsoft, first on Microsoft’s Tatarinov and the emerging matrix model and then with OpEd: Microsoft’s heretical self disruption, which was a different take on the themes Phil raised.

A (relatively) quiet cloud story that is finally getting attention is the explosive growth of Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365, to the tune of a 500 percent increase in active online Office 365 users over the past year, making it a $1.5 billion-a-year business and counting. As Phil argues, Office Graph raises the stakes of an open Microsoft, with the challenge to open up the Office Graph coming from on high in the form of an exhortation from Bill Gates himself.

The result could be a major edge in corporate search, a rock that many past products have bruised their toes on. Phil: 'Office Graph provides context that can surface relevant content far more accurately than conventional search products.'  Describing the most compelling Convergence show he has attended in years, Den frames a broader view of a 'messy' Microsoft grappling with change but with the deep pockets to do market arm twisting, such as the aggressive pricing on OneDrive that could put Box and Dropbox on the pricing defensive. Though I'm in the camp that believes Microsoft is going to face an epic PR crudstorm over Windows XP security, all in all a very strong week for Microsoft.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica pick: CIO disruption profiles by Derek du Preez and Jessica Twentyman

quotage: 'The CIO is at risk. IT leaders are currently trying to figure out how best to integrate new technologies – mobile, social, cloud, big data – into their monolithic back-end enterprise platforms, whilst still ensuring corporate governance and security measures don’t go out the window. Savvy employees are demanding the latest digital tools, and if CIOs don’t move fast to provide the them, they face being side-stepped. But how do you sell this to the board?' - Derek

myPOV: We had some nifty profiles of CIOs doing cool things this week. In addition to the prior quotage from diginomica editor Derek du Preez's CIOs need to stop overselling IT and be realistic about digital risks, he also filed a well-received profile of Capgemini’s Chief Digital Officer Cliff Evans, Meantime, contributing editor Jessica Twentyman continued her streak of good reads with John Lewis’ CIO – looking for retail’s next multi-channel ‘big idea’.

Together, the three pieces bring different lessons, from the importance (and difficulties) of internal collaboration, to the need for CIOs to pull in external views, whether its startup thinking or customer interactions. Finally, the Capgemini piece reminds those not-so-trivial things like back-end integration and regulatory compliance are still part of the CIO chore set - err, I mean skill set. The mistake I am seeing too often in the mainstream tech press right now? Dismissing these traditional CIO aspects as 'legacy' when, in fact, a genuine digital transformation means wrestling with all of it. Data doesn't discriminate between mainframes and cloud.

Also recommended:

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
SAP HANA Cloud Platform presser analysis by Dick Hirsch and Holger Mueller

quotage: 'Good for SAP to make products / services more consumable – the separation of Apps, DB and Infrastructure services makes sense from a SAP perspective, given HANA’s prominence in marketing and product plans, but may confuse buyers who are either used to a complete shield of physical details (e.g. Salesforce.com) or a more granular details (e.g. Amazon’s AWS, Google's GCP).' - Mueller

myPOV: On Wednesday the 5th, SAP broadcasted a press conference from Palo Alto (see replay here). The focus? A series of announcements pertaining to the HANA Cloud Platform (SAP's Matthias Steiner details those announcements usefully). No one outside of SAP follows the technical guts of this stuff closer than Hirsch - in his event review, he points out this is the first time SAP has expanded the public definition of the Hana Cloud Platform (HCP) to include infrastructure and database services.

Mueller struck an accurate balance, in my view, between crediting SAP for increased clarity of messaging, pricing, and HANA marketplace simplicity, but also pointing out some glaring issues of clarity around PaaS and open platforms (e.g. is SAP too proprietary in its approach to PaaS). This returns Mueller to stomping points around questioning SAP's cloud elasticity and whether another RDL (SAP River) is needed.

For my part, as a self-appointed platform advocate I am pleased to see vendors from the giants (IBM and SAP) to upstarts (Cloudbees) continuing to push cloud platforms even as customer adoption/PaaS purchases are not extravagant. I could be wrong, but I don't mind losing the PaaS argument on the hill of building/consuming apps on open platforms.

Whether SAP can get there remains to be seen but they are not backing down from this investment; merging IaaS and DaaS into the HCP expands the use case and simplifies the product landscape (though the role of the HANA Enterprise Cloud will need serious clarification for those not tracking this stuff with a messaging microscope). I thought the Twitter event hashtag was typically abysmal of #ensw event hashtags these days (full of needless regurgitation and vendor brownie points), but there is always some interesting side banter (e.g. actual attempts at insightful conversations) which Mueller documented on Storify.

Other standouts

Honorable mention: David Linthicum thinks the cloud is losing the PR war over security, but cloud firms are in growth mode regardless - Louis Columbus pulls together a reference on the best cloud companies to work for. Google may have dispensed with using ridiculous brainteaser interview questions, but the LA Times questions whether other companies should abandon cognitive assessments. This concise post on Hadoop resume do's and don'ts had useful big data skills bits. And: the Agile Elephant has an interesting post on salary transparency - I'm not sure the world is ready to be that transparent though.


Overworked businessman
Enough with the tenuous Workday-NetSuite comparisons. Quickly moving on, Vijay Vijayasankar wound me up on Twitter via this rather simplistic article by Content Strategist on sponsored content, which includes SAP as its primary example. The problems with this piece go far beyond SAP. It's a superficial piece of reporting that ignores the well-known difficulties sponsored content must overcome (not to mention the specific criticisms SAP has repeatedly faced from community members about Forbes BrandVoice).

Nor is there a mention of the challenge to reader trust that any sponsored content model has to overcome - trust that takes a hit every time substandard content is published. Content Strategist also implies that brute force page view metrics solve all problems. I know SAP doesn't believe that, so I'm not sure where this type of reporting finds it inspiration.

One thing I tweeted: 'Utterly disagree that brands figured out storytelling, but need to figure out distribution. Opposite is true.' There may be confusion because brands have figured out narrative - unfortunately, most of those narratives are branding festivals in the land of nobody cares. Storytelling implies a collective fascination.

That's what we're all trying to figure out how to pull off in an enterprise context. Buying eyeballs is not an achievement that moves me. People who matter sharing your stuff because they respect it - that's a much more interesting #ensw metric to monitor. If you chase page views, you're going to trip on the social herd following Justin Bieber around - and that's no place for a B2B content producer.

Officially off-topic

Marc Benioff challenges Bay Area tech leaders to give more - It's a given that Benioff can go over the top at times, but his leadership bridging the Bay Area tech/economic divide is welcome and necessary. Mark Finnern brought this neat list of 21 Technologies That Will Decentralize the World to my attention. Yes the headline is a bit extravagant, but it's a cool list and bonus points for not making it a clickthrough slideshow.

On training and education: I Failed My Online Course—But Learned A Lot About Internet Education is a reminder of the flaws of MOOCs. Reminded me that nothing takes the place of project experience. I encourage employers to consider moving beyond job interviews to paid mini projects on freelance sites. Give someone real work experience, even in a small chunk - a freelancer I employer recently landed a job due to a couple of smaller gigs with me. That beats an unfinished MOOC anytime.

More feel-good stuff: with Ukranian Soccer Teams Suspended, Rival Fans Played Each Other. Not so feel-good: being an Australian crocodile swallowed whole by a python (semi-graphic video for those who need a morning wakeup).

Great thing about YouTube - you get a scene in your head, like the infamous Kevin Space drive thru scene in American Beauty, and YouTube has it all queued up for you. Or further down my particular rabbit hole, a stunning piece of spoken word poetry excavated from a 2005 Def Poetry Jam that influenced my creative development. Oh, and 'True Detective' buffs - if you've seen the finale then be sure to check this revealing post-finale interview with the show's creator. See you next time.

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, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: SAP and Salesforece.com are diginomica premier partners at the time of this writing; Box is a partner.

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