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The month in review

Brian Sommer Profile picture for user brianssommer July 5, 2018
Every month, there are a zillion things that cross my desk. Unfortunately, not all of them end up in a feature piece for diginomica. Here are some of the stories and events that popped up in June that you should know about.

New vocabulary

Ever on the prowl for new words and euphemisms, Business Insider tells us about:

  • PawTernity Leave – Where pet owners get time off to adjust to pet ownership. I can’t wait to see this become a supported bit of functionality in HR software (just kidding!).

Vendor briefings and roadshows

IQMS – IQMS is a mid-market provider of ERP software. They recently had a number of analysts out to Boston to meet the executive team. I cover vendors like IQMS as solutions like this are often important to larger firms seeking a two-tier ERP provider.

IQMS clearly has the passion around the shop floor. Their MES solution was an integral part of the narrative they shared with us. They also talked up their new HTML 5 UX .  Jon Reed has a complete write-up here.

XeroXero had their Americas User Conference in Atlanta this month.  I was at their Austin event in the Fall but was conflicted out for this show.  Even though I didn’t get to go, I did manage a call with Herman Man of Xero. Xero’s now got more ability to help businesses automate a number of labor-intensive accounting tasks.  Think of RPA (robotic process automation) that’s priced right for smaller businesses and is painless to use.  Xero also enhanced its work paper functionality (for accountants), its HQ dashboard functionality and its project module.  Some of that capability is designed to further improve the working relationships between Xero customers and the accounting firms that serve them.

Cornerstone OnDemand – CSOD had their user conference in San Diego. Like Xero, I was conflicted out. From what I learned from Frank Scavo and others, Cornerstone is making great progress towards a Rule of 40 target.  CSOD is also interesting as it is one of the larger HCM solution providers that can continue to both grow its product set and materially enhance the applications within it. I’ve seen lots of vendors dramatically slow down their development efforts as they age and grow. CSOD seems to run counter to that.

EnteloEntelo is one of those HR software firms that make a company radically rethink their HR processes. So, I was pleasantly surprised to get a link to a graphic Entelo prepared that shows the Recruiting Automation Landscape (see below).  This graphic is important as it could be your next HR show exhibition hall guide. Anyone can find the giant booths that the major, old-school HR/ERP vendors have in the exhibition hall. But, if your time is limited, why not spend it with vendors who could help you create a different set of HR processes that deliver modern, big-data fired insights/outcomes?

intello recruitment
via Intello

A nice companion piece to the above is this June 2018, Inc. piece by Kate Rockwood: “Not-So-Human Resources”.  In fact, that issue is full of HR stories.

Workday acquires RallyTeam  -  Workday has completed another tuck-in deal. This time it’s RallyTeam. According to Workday, RallyTeam created  “a talent mobility platform that uses machine learning to help companies better understand and optimize their workforces by matching a worker’s interests, skills, and connections with relevant jobs, projects, tasks, and people.”   This deal got lost in all of the hoopla that came with Workday’s acquisition of financial planning vendor Adaptive Insights. Adaptive was scheduled to go public but Workday pounced just before the IPO.  BTW – the Adaptive deal was valued at $1.55 billion.

Acumatica gets growth funding – I did a brief call with the (ERP vendor) Acumatica folks regarding their recent $25 million VC funding round. This was a Series C deal with the lead investor being Accel-KKR. These funds will be used to expand R&D efforts, develop deeper vertical solutions and fuel more go-to-market activities.

RevWreck/RevRec – I sat in on a revenue recognition breakout session at FinancialForce’s recent confab. It was a fascinating thing to observe as accountants, consultants, etc. were addressing the very same topics I covered at length in 2016 and 2017. The reason for the interest at this show was that RevRec rule changes (i.e., ASC 606) for public companies went into effect this year and are now impacting private firms next year.  Here’s a functional rules change that’s still generating work for more accountants.

Odds n’ Ends

Please no more Alexa demos – Fellow analyst Jon Reed and I have seen gobs of botched voice-enabled smart tool demos lately. We have seen vendors fail over 90% of the time to pull these off at user conferences this Spring. At the recent CommLive18 event, the team chose not to do one of these! SYSPRO did likewise at a recent analyst briefing.  That’s actually a good thing. Few vendors have developed realistic use cases for these apps, especially for the SMB market.  Worse, there’s always some clown in the plenary session of every user conference hogging all the wireless bandwidth and they will assure demo systems will crash. I often wonder what someone’s streaming or downloading at an event that they paid handsomely to attend (but are indirectly sabotaging).

Great stories this month

I read a lot – mostly on planes. Here are some of the pieces that caught my attention this month:

How opaque algorithms and untrained users damage lives – For all you technology types that think just because you can create something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should.  I have written about the problems that haywire algorithms can have on hiring and other HR processes. I’ve written about Cathy O’Neill’s great bookWeapons of Math Destruction”. And, recently I saw this piece on Verge detailing how bad algorithms are adversely impacting those in need of social caregiving. .  C’mon folks, these opaque algorithms are bad for people.

You might want to check out Jerry Muller’s new book “The Tyranny of Metrics”. There’s a review of it in the current (Issue 91) edition of Strategy + Business.   ALL OF THIS is must-read material!

“How Not to Negotiate a $6.1 Billion Deal” – This Bloomberg BusinessWeek piece is a roller coaster ride. It’s got everything you need in a high tech story: activist shareholders, self-interest, a declining/aging technology, accounting fraud and more. This is a piece you’ll want to have a fresh cup of coffee before you start – and afterward, you’ll pray that none of the characters in this story ever touch your company.

“Salesforce Rides High on the Cloud” – This Barron’s piece was part of my reading pile on the flight to Orlando for the SAP Sapphire event.  Talk about serendipity – I read a lot on Salesforce in that issue just before I was to hear SAP’s CEO, Bill McDermott, announce their new C/4HANA product and vow to take on Salesforce’s leadership in the CRM space. Be sure to also read another article in that issue: “The Rewards – and  Perils of Software Subscriptions”.

“How to Hire” – This Harvard Business Review piece keeps getting shuffled around on my desk. It was in the Jan-Feb. 2018 issue. This piece is by an HR practitioner who looks at recruiting in a far more informed way than most. “Always be recruiting” is just one of the concepts you should know.

“Tech’s Ultimate Second Act”This Forbes piece (June 30, 2018 pg. 74) gave a zillion dollars of free publicity for ServiceNow and its founder Fred Luddy. ServiceNow was featured as the most innovative company in the world.

“Is HR Missing the Point on Performance Feedback?”This MIT Sloan Management Review piece (Summer 2018) takes on a trend in HR circles where HR departments are moving away from performance reviews. I hear this all the time in new HR or ERP software selections. However, the first instinct of many HR leaders is to no longer conduct these reviews. In my business conscience, I know this is wrong.  Running away from a bad process is a bad idea. Fixing the process is what more should do. If your firm’s contemplating a move away from performance reviews, read this!

“Why High-Tech Commoditization is Accelerating” – Here’s another reason to get the Summer 2018 issue of MIT Sloan Management review.  If you’ve noticed that ever more powerful platforms, abundant libraries of connectors, etc. are making easier for anyone, anywhere to create new innovative solutions, then you need to know what this piece is talking about. The implications for ALL sizes of businesses are profound, too.

The stories to watch next month

BMC deal goes through but details are fuzzy –Last month, I mentioned a deal to sell BMC was in the works. It was quickly consummated. Bloomberg BusinessWeek had the details, such as they are. Frankly, the deal details are few and far between.  This deal has one private equity firm (KKR) allegedly paying $8.3 billion to another private equity group (Bain, Golden Gate and others). Hopefully, KKR will share some of its deal strategy soon.

SAP and Teradata are going courting: a lawsuit that is – Teradata sued SAP over a number of matters, many of which impacts SAP’s HANA technology.  I’m working up a tangential piece on this but we’ll all likely have to wait until, and if, SAP files a countersuit or other response. We’ll likely watch this story for a long, long time.

And these represent only a sample of the conference calls, webinars, press briefings, user conferences, etc. I dealt with this month. What did I miss?

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