Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Event Report: CDI-MDM Summit, SF, CA

I recently moderated a track with a colleague of mine (Rob Karel) at the CDI-MDM conference this March 26h and 27th at the San Francisco Marriott. Though master data management penetration in the enterprise still hovers in the high single digits, its obvious the energy, activity, and investment around MDM continues to grow. Some quick observations at the event:

  • Hierarchy management and data governance remained the most sought after topics
  • Vendors seemed to outnumber clients (We found this later not to be the case)
  • Clients who were there remained at the technical level
  • Projects were beginning to require a higher level of executive sponsorship
  • Effective change management was beginning to become a critical success factor in all sizes of projects
  • Customer projects (given the bias of the event) dominated discussions though other entity types such as products and location became ancillary requirements.

In general, this event was a great chance to catch up with others pursuing the development of MDM tools and solutions. And as always it was great to see my familiar faces from Siperian, Initiate, DataFlux, Purisma, IBM, Oracle, VisionWare and, i2 at the event.

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2007 by R Wang. All rights reserved

News Analysis: SAP in a Post-Shai era?

It's hard to believe that less than 7 years ago, SAP was seen as a stodgy, client-server based, and very stubborn German software company. That transformation from "borg-like" vendor to innovator wasn't easy, but at the helm of that transition was Shai Agassi. As one of the few non-German executive members, he harnessed the can-do attitude of Silicon Valley, brought the Israeli practicality, and tied the engineering talent of SAP closer to the pulse of innovation. And despite the skeptics, he shifted power away from Germany and Newtown Square to Palo Alto.

Looking back, Shai leaves an organization with quite a legacy. First and foremost the transformation from client-server to internet. Shai also drove the efforts to get mySAP CRM out the door and build out the mid-market. But even more importantly, the strong software ecosystem and partner network that Shai so evangelized leaves SAP with the foundation to innovate and build last mile solutions so needed in the micro-vertical market. SAP's success in building buzz and attracting ISV partners includes work with Microsoft on Duet that continues to differentiate SAP from its chief competitor, Oracle, in the applications space. Finally, the vision and swagger Shai brought to SAP will be the most memorable. Customers often left impressed by the possibilities they could see in their investment in SAP.

Yet, challenges abound for SAP in a post-Shai world with or without him. Microsoft shows continued success in the SMB side of the house with wins in hub and spoke SAP environments and subsidiaries of SAP enterprises looking to wean themselves from the high cost of ownership and upgrade to mySAP ERP 2005 Meanwhile heavy discounting by Oracle in the large enterprise space, put quite a squeeze on SAP in the near term for new business in the large enterprise space, as only Oracle can afford to bolster app sales with middleware and database revenues. SaaS entrants like and NetSuite chip away at SAP's cost structure and usability while the entrance of Dave Duffield's WorkDay may complicate SAP's efforts to beat Oracle/PeopleSoft at HCM. As user experience becomes important, SAP has fallen behind in building products that showcase the best of Web 2.0 meets Enterprise 2.0.

So while Shai brought vision and innovation, much work needs to be done in a post-Shai world. The need to execute becomes greater as promises made to customers, partners, and employees must be kept. Investment for better tools in NetWeaver and MDM would help partners build more efficiently and allow for a stronger ecosystem foundation. Success in the mid-market and a strong SaaS offering would put competitors, WorkDay, Oracle, and NetSuite on the defensive. Moreover, a move away from middleware infrastructure in general would expedite the transition from Oracle database to anything else and keep SAP from indirectly funding future Oracle acquisitions and Oracle's development of competitive products.

But without a visionary like Shai at hand, the top tier talent he brought into the valley will need a reason from management to remain. Execution of Shai's vision has always been the most challenging role to play and we will know in the next 3 to 5 years how SAP will fare in the market. Yet despite execution being the key to near term success, SAP will still need an articulate visionary at the helm or risk retreating on the visibility and panache Shai brought to the industry.

For additional information:
Official SAP Press Release
San Francisco Chronicle
Managing Automation

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2007 by R Wang. All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

News Analysis: Tammi Reller's transition to Interim Head of MBS

The recent transition of Satya Nadella to the new Search and Ad Platform group came as quite the surprise to many outside of the Redmond community. Satya had recently taken over in September 2006 from long time Great Plains icon Doug Burgum. (Doug is retiring later this year.) Insiders say that Satya was chosen for Search and Ad mainly because of his ability to turnaround teams and deliver on results.

The transition to Tammi Reller makes sense, as Tammi has had many roles within Dynamics, most recently as Corporate Vice President of MBS marketing. Customers should expect little disruption in strategy as Tammi's an insider and has worked closely with Satya and Doug for quite some time. It's expected that Tammi's role as interim head of MBS should become permanent and many remain excited as she brings some marketing buzz and excitement to the teams.

After attending Microsoft's Convergence User conference in March, it's apparent that Microsoft continues to lead in the user experience department with the most resources and innovation dedicated to role based scenarios and user experience optimization. In addition, the Project Green strategy appears to be transforming from a converged product roadmap with a target date, to one where the 4 products have target dates for consumption of key middleware components such as SQL Server, SharePoint, BizTalk, SmartClient, etc. Maybe that was the original plan, but now it's becoming clear that this will be the approach for some time to come.

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2007 by R Wang. All rights reserved

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Event Report: Lawson CUE

After a horrendous time getting out of the Mumbai Airport where I missed my flight and had to fly to NY in order to get to California... I finally made my way to sunny San Diego for Lawson's CUE event on March 4th to March 7th. Though I missed the Sunday festivities, the week there was well worth it as Lawson continued to show progress in developing its product line, winning customers, and building tighter partnerships.

Some quick observations from the event:
  • The general mood was upbeat among both clients and partners
  • Lawson furthered their relationship on IBM's "Blue Stack" including the WebSphere ESB with current releases:
    • For S3 customers, WAS, Tivoli Directory Server, and DB2 are also offered in Lawson S3 System Foundation 9
    • For M3 customers, the new Lawson M3 System Foundation includes WAS as well as LSF runtime technology
  • On the hosting front, Lawson Total Care Platinum tied the highest level maintenance and support program with full hosting and application management services with IBM as well as other partners.
  • From a social, corporate responsibility angle, Lawson announced a Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative that packages pre-configured Lawson applications and Lawson Business Intelligence (LBI) to report against over 100 indicators that could support at company's corporate social responsibility initiatives.
  • Recent high profile wins at a major global retailer bode well for Lawson's future global roll-out and functionality capabilities.
Overall, clients and partners once again found value in the event. And of course, EVP Dean Hager's presentations were as energetic, informative and entertaining.

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2007 by R Wang. All rights reserved

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ecosystems: Systems integrators should transform to solutions providers

As I reflect on my current trip to India, I can't but help feel the deja vu of the Silicon Valley during the late 90's. Streams of business people come in and out of the lobby with ideas, deals, and lots of excitement. I'm typing away from the Hotel Leela in Bangalore where I just met with a client in the system integrator space. Like others, she also commented on the tremendous growth in just the past year. Among the construction cranes, cows in the street, motorized rickshaws, and the hustle and bustle of a country on the move, I have firmly experienced an outsider's perspective on India's growth.

With each trip, I notice new architectures and campuses being built or expanded for each of the SI's. India's info tech economy continues to grow and their system integrators now play a significant role in the global professional services business. As they continue to make progress and gain multi-billion in revenues, they remain on an aggressive move towards the next step in the value chain.

With that perspective in mind, opportunities exist for these highly skilled system integrators to make the transition from system integrator to solution provider. More importantly, those system integrators who have the development capabilties and understanding of various middleware platforms such as BEA WebLogic/AquaLogic, IBM WebSphere, Microsoft.Net, Oracle Fusion Middleware, and SAP NetWeaver have an opportunity to change the software environment in their next transformation. Just like Electronic Arts who builds software on Sony's Playstation, Microsoft's X-box, and Nintendo's Game Cube, imagine a world where an Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, Cognizant, and HCL deliver their own Chinese HR talent acquisition solutions or eastern european process manufacturing solution on top of NetWeaver, Fusion, WebSphere, VS.NEt, or WebLogic.

Delivering last mile solutions regardless of middleware platform potentially transforms system integrators who are channels for the big vendors like SAP and Oracle into solutions providers who view SAP and Oracle as a strategic supplier. But to get there, these SI's will require internal transformation in their capabilities. Customers must view these firms as trusted advisors across the enterprise.

However, skills shortages still abound in advanced capabilities such as change management, master data management, business process reengineering, and overall IT strategy. But with some retooling, expect the most nimble and adaptive of these system integrators to make the transformation. Clients desperately seek resources to deliver process innovation while optimizing commoditized processes via BPO. The key success factor will be the capability to deliver modular last mile solutions by industry and geographies on top of agnostic middleware platforms or SaaS deployment options.

Once that transformation has been attained, IBM and Accenture will nervously have to look in their rear view mirrors as the competition charges forward. But for now, their positions remain safe.

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2007 by R Wang. All rights reserved