Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday’s Tip: SaaS - Integration Advice

Continued interest in software as a service (SaaS) stems from the pay as you go pricing, constant stream of innovation, rapid deployment options, and the ability to do an end run around IT. As the number of options proliferate, enterprises will increasingly lean on SaaS as the mission critical system. Thus, end users need an enterprise apps strategy for SaaS that addresses the "I" word - Integration. The requirements and leadership for integration will lead to the pragmatic realization that SaaS can no longer be ignored by the IT department. As organizations brace for the proliferation of SaaS procurements integration should focus on:

  • Data mapping - as data moves from one system to another, data must be transformed accurately. More importanlty, service and related metadata are cataloged into a repository for discovery by management tools and development tools.
  • Business process orchestration - granularity of web services must be harmonized so that the overall process flow is seamless among various systems. Integration services actively manage service access, execution and quality of service.
  • Quality of service - Like SOA, QoS metrics ensure that the information flow was delivered to the right system at the right time for the right person. Characteristics such as security, transactions, performance, style of service interaction, etc. are explicitly identified and specified for each service

A few key solutions providers to watch out for in the SaaS integration space include:

  • Blue Wolf Group - a system integrator with an Integration as a Service (IaaS) offering
  • Boomi - a SaaS integration layer services company
  • Cast Iron Systems - a software based integration appliance (i.e. hardware)
  • Informatica - a data integration provider with a multi-tenant, cross-enterprise data integration on-demand service
  • Magic Software - a business and process integration provider
  • Pervasive- a data integration provider with an Integration as a Service (IaaS) offering
  • Snap Logic - an open source data integration tool provider

The bottom line.

The successful adoption of SaaS solutions will transform usage from purpose built point solutions to integration into mission critical processes. The result - SaaS integration will emerge as a key discipline in the overall enterprise app strategies of enterprises who seek to manage a portfolio of provisioned services.

Your POV.

Have you completed a successful SaaS to on-premise integration? How'd it go? Was it easier/harder than your on-premise integrations? Feel free to share with me your view points. You can post here or sending me a private email to rwang0@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday’s Musings: Consider Consortium Buying as a Win-Win Strategy

Falling revenues, crumbling custom systems, and declining budgets often bring municipalities, state authorities, and related agencies together to gain efficiencies in vendor selection, purchasing power, implementation, maintenance, and support costs. End users in the private sector seeking long term efficiencies may want to take a page from the public sector and consider shared services consortium buying. Here are three reasons enterprises in similar industries or within large corporate entities may consider shared services consortia:

  • Vendor leverage. Industry specific consortia can provide a check and balance with the vendor in pushing for functionality requests and prioritization of bugs and enhancements. Many consortia offer more than one solution to keep this check and balance alive.
  • Purchasing power. Properly designed consortia deliver buying power that reduces the incremental unit cost per user. Areas for improvement include license fees, hosting costs, and support resources.
  • Staff retention and recruitment. Consolidating a critical mass of IT talent allows for shared knowledge, improved collaboration, and increased training opportunities. Improved margins allow for investment in staff development and investment in the latest technologies and releases.

The bottom line.

Operational efficiency lessons learned from the public sector are applicable to private enterprises . Natural places for consortia development include primary nodes of networked enterprises. For example, a high tech manufacturer could standardize on 2 vendors and negotiate a license that would allow its suppliers and channels to incrementally add on. In some cases, industry trade groups such as as Blue Cross and Blue Shield in the health insurer space could provide such services. Depending on the legal structure of some user groups, such services could also be delivered. Consider software vendors such as CGI, Lawson, and Oracle for their expertise in arranging such agreements.

Your POV.

Got a consortia experience to share? Have any other tips for the economic down turn? Post a comment or drop me a line at rwang0@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Event Report: Siperian Masters 2008 - Customers Confirm Multi-Entity MDM Trends

Registration Area for the Siperian Masters 2008 held at the Bridgwater Marriott

(Photo: Siperian Masters'08 registration area. Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.)

About 200 attendees were present as Ramon Chen, VP of Marketing, kicked off the event to the theme of adventurers and pioneers in MDM at the Bridgewater Marriott (New Jersey). CEO, Peter Caswell, led the keynote session with a view on where Siperian has been, where Siperian is going, and then introduced the Ravi Jagannathan VP of Product Management and Manish Sood, Senior Director of Product Management. They presented Siperian's road map well into 2012. Key announcements include:

  • Ongoing expansion of the partner ecosystem and alliances.
  • Announcement of semantic masters for unstructured data.
  • Focus on easier to maintain GUI
  • Continued availability of modular deployment options and other cost effective implementations
  • New state management and work flow integration tie backs to the Lombardi BPM tools
  • Visually appealing data governance dashboards.

In addition, a few key trends emerged from conversations with customers and partners:

  • Most customers who had MDM projects also were embarked on SOA projects
  • Pharma customers successfully proved ROI and justification despite being in SAP and Oracle "only" environments
  • Availability of system integrator resources has improved.
  • MDM projects need to be more pervasive and address innovation in order to gain long term political support.
  • Many customers have reached what Forrester Research considers a Level 3 and 4 MDM maturity.
  • Prospects continue to see Siperian as short listed vendors
  • Many seek more innovation from their MDM systems and are beginning to branch out of their single data entity focus.

The bottom line

Siperian customers seem to be well ahead of the pioneering stage with MDM. Customers we spoke to remain satisfied with their decisions and have been successful in proving existing value. Many customers have transcended past level 3 on the MDM maturity model.

Your POV

Do these trends jive with what you are seeing in MDM and CDI? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Post a comment or privately reach out to me at rwang0@gmail.com Check it out on the Forrester Blogs.

Ramon Chen doling out the 2008 Siperian Masters Awards

(Ramon Chen presenting the 2008 Siperian Masters Awards.Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.)

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday’s Tip: Master Data Management - Focus on the End in Mind

Begin with the end in mind” is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.”

~ “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

This Coveyism rings quite true especially with MDM deployments. Those seeking to innovate with MDM as opposed to just finish the job will find themselves asking key questions such as:

  • For whom will this data be for? How will they use this information to take action?
  • What’s the outcome? What are we trying to achieve?
  • What will this information look like for another user?
  • When does this question need to be answered by?
  • How does this align with our business drivers?
  • Where can we find the most accurate source?
  • Why is this data important?

This “end in mind” reasoning then leads to the First and Second approach as Covey puts it:

  • Mental creation. When beginning the design of an MDM project, focus on the result provides a design point to work backwards from and design role based scenarios. With those scenarios in hand, business process can be mapped back to the corresponding data.
  • Physcial creation. With a solid blueprint in hand, the implementation teams can now test the scenarios. Assumptions about data integration, process integration, and strength of executive sponsorship will all be put to the test.

The bottom line.

The planning phase is a critical component of MDM. Successful projects often start with a detailed design process that asks the key questions with both a proactive data management focus and role based actionable insight approach. Successful project teams tailor design to how people are using the information. Build this Coveyism as a principle in your design phase and avoid the hassles of a failed MDM project.

Your POV.

I’d love to hear your lessons learned. Feel free to share with me your MDM implementation story. You can post here or sending me a private email to rwang0@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday’s Musings: Expect More Acquisitions By the Big 4 in 2009

Continued economic slow down, credit crisis, and diminished IPO market create the perfect storm for the Big 4 or as fellow blogger Josh Greenbaum likes to call it, MISO (ie. Microsoft, IBM, SAP, and Oracle). Here are four trends at work that shape the thinking on why 2009 will be another year of continued consolidation:

  • Most privately held vendor exit strategies focus on acquisition not IPO. Many firms with IPO plans have been told by their boards to refocus on revenue growth and partnerships. The intention - use partnership success to both drive revenue growth and attract acquisition by a larger vendor. Many see acquisition by the Big 4 as the best exit strategy at this point in time.
  • Strategic acquisitions target vendors with strong recurring revenue streams. Chatter from BBQ’s and luncheons highlight vendors with large maintenance revenues as an area for potential targets. Nurting a profitable and recurring revenue stream will allow many vendors to share overall development and support costs as they weather the next storm. The hunt is on for vendors who fit this bill as private equity and vendors chase after these assets. Case in point - the intention to acquire Epicor by Elliot Associates.
  • Economic conditions lowers publicly traded vendor valuations. For companies with a prescribed target list, its never been cheaper to acquire a competitor. Most P/E ratio have become quite attractive and fall below the standard 2X to 3X revenue price target.
  • Pressure remains to grow new markets. the larger vendors express tremendous interest in acquiring new distribution channels, micro industry verticals, and new geographical coverage. One great example is the movement in the Microsoft Dynamics partner base. The rumors of M&A run fierce as the partners consolidate to gain scale for regional and global delivery. The fight for Axon by HCL and Infosys also highlights the consolidation happening around SAP system integrators as they transition into solution providers.

The bottom line.

Despite the gloomy economic outlook, end users should assume that the biggest vendors will continue their torrid pace of acquisitions. As these acquisitions factor into long term apps strategies and planning for 2009 purchases, users must assume that truly specialized solutions with significant industry footprint will be acquired. One proactive approach is to suggest acquisitions and tie-ups to key vendors during discussions with their senior management on financial viability as well as long term roadmap and strategy.

Your POV.

Who do you think will be acquired by whom next? Look forward to your thoughts. Post a comment or drop me a line at rwang0@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

BLOG UPDATE: Change your links to blog.softwareinsider.org

Hello! Starting in January 2009, A Software Insiders Point of View will be moving to a new home. As we are in beta, look forward to new ways of sharing and reaching out. Look forward to your suggestions!

Here's the new blog link:



Friday, October 17, 2008

Event Report: Inforum 2008 Highlights Transition from Acquirer to Builder

Infor's Jim Schaper Conducting the Las Vegas Philharmonic

(Photo: Jim Schaper Conducting the LV Philharmonic. Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.)

Inforum’s attendees were treated to a wonderful pre-keynote string quartet and a booming opening inspirational from both the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra and the rock band Innovation. As the orchestra took a bow, Infor’s CEO Jim Schaper, emerged from the conductor’s stand to the surprise of over 5000 attendees. The ever personable and charismatic CEO discussed how Infor would help customers compete in an emerging world of business networks that required innovation to be able to respond to change. He also spoke of the $325M being invested back into the product in the next 4 years.

Key innovation announcements from the event include:

  • SaaS offerings. Infor announced several SaaS options into the marketplace for users of Infor ERP SyteLine, Infor EAM (Enterprise Asset Management), and Expense Management.
    : Keep in mind, these are true multi-tenant SaaS options, not hosted On Demand plays like other competitors. Discussions with attendees showed a mixed reaction to SaaS offerings, but in general there was receptivness to a new lower overall cost model. Most attendees believed this showed Infor’s investment into new technology.
  • Expanded relationship with Microsoft SQL Server. The announcement of a single Infor point of contact for sales, maintenance, and support provides a cost competitive option for customers seeking to take advantage of significant performance and feature improvements in Microsoft SQL Server.
    POV: Over 50% of Infor’s customers have deployed solutions on Microsoft SQL Server across 20 solutions. This move delivers a win-win for customers in price and support. In the future, new features in SQL server could provide customers with stronge BI capabilities.
  • Role based launch pad. Infor MyDay is a web 2.0 user interface that’s role based to 150 personas that Infor has defined for its clients. Infor’s MyDay product represents the leading edge thinking in user experience where tasks, alerts, and performance indicators are pushed to users based on their roles. This first release involves 16 roles across four ERP products.
    POV: This builds off of Infor’s announcement last year where there was a push towards portals. The key differentiator is the move towards persona based development which gives Infor a unique design approach on par with the Microsoft Dynamics approach. Infor joins Lawson, IFS, and Epicor as early adopters towards more Web 2.0 centric approaches.
  • ERP LX enhancements for the i-Series base. New enhancements delivery improved regulatory compliance and usability. In addition, there are added globalization capabilities that support multiple languages in a single data basis and a key GMP (Bood Manufacturing Practice) requirement for the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authorit.
    : The i-Series base has been neglected a bit for some time. These improvements were well received by the ERP LX customers on site. After speaking with about 23 customers on older versions of BPCS, there was now a good incentive to upgrade to ERP LX.

The bottom line

As one of the few enterprise apps vendors over $1B in revenues, Infor is set to be one of the survivors in the next economic cycle and a significant alternative for Oracle and SAP customers looking for purpose built solutions and divisional standalone applications. In addition, Inforum as an event is well on its way of must attend events during the year and highlights the key trends in the SMB market.

Your POV

Do you own an Infor product? Are you expanding the usage of Infor products? Do you see these as more value oriented alternatives to the Big 2? Do you have issues with Infor. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Post a comment or privately reach out to me at rwang0@gmail.com

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday's Tips: Software Licensing and Pricing - Q4 Bodes Well For Discounts

In both the enterprise and SMB space, recent market conditions point to a lack of available financing for enterprise software purchases. This trend will continue as the credit markets tighten. The result - vendors will be more inclined to discount. Enterprises engaged in contact negotiation with software vendors should take this opportunity to seek additional discounts as the scarcity of new deals will put customers in the driver seat. Keep in mind a few tips:

  • Push for deeper discounting. Now's the time to buy more licenses should you need them and if you have the cash to spare. Vendors remain anxious for new deals and new deals are far and few between. Apply lessons learned from the last economic downturn. Discounting will include non license areas such as implementation, training, and support. Push for maintenance fee decreases where possible.
  • Don't hesitate to wait till January 2009. Customers are now in the driver seat. Taking the time to push purchases off till January 2009 buys time for the implementation markets to slow down and provide enterprises with the best deal.
  • Expect vendors to raise revenue recognition rules as a barrier. Vendors often use revenue recognition issues raised by AICPA Statement of Position (SOP) 97-2 as an excuse to limit certain levels of discounting. In many cases, vendors may be bound on how the recognize the licensing, selling, leasing, and/or marketing of that software. Vendor specific objective evidence known as VSOE requires a company to demonstrate fair value, especially when deliverables like license, support, upgrades, and maintenance are bundled. One approach - have the vendor demonstrate the range of discounts as they apply to their VSOE rules. Often times, the sales person is confused about how these rev recognition rules impact and hides behind these rulings. Breaking down the revenue recognition components often identifies hidden opportunties. Keep im mind there are some limits.
  • Understand how non-monetary concessions have value. Once you reach the point of a price floor, consider asking for the right level of product development and executive sponsors. Other options include more favorable changes in software licensing clauses such as a set rate of maintenance for the life of the contract. Consider being a reference account should the vendor agree on functionality enhancement delivery deadlines or SLA's during implementation or upgrade. Opportunities to establish industry standards with peers may also prove beneficial.
  • Seek escrow accounts for vendors that may pose financial viability issues. One way to protect your software investment is to seek a deposit of the software source code into a third party escrow account. This is one way to ensure the maintenance of software, and if the vendor goes bankrup or fails to maintain and update the software as promised, you own the code. You can also set up other conditions like change of control or certain thresholds of financial performance.

The bottom line.

The next 6 to 12 months will provide a unique opportunity to negotiate for new deals. Expect continued discounts until the credit markets stabilize. Keep in mind that the above advice should be approved by and in partnership with your own legal counsel and vendor management professionals.

Your POV.

I'm curious as to how you did on your last deal. Share with me your story and concession by posting here or sending me a private email to rwang0@gmail.com. If I use it in my next research report, I’ll send you a copy of one of our Long Term Packaged Apps Strategy reports. Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday's Musings: 5 Steps to Restoring Trust in the Vendor - Customer Relationship

Software vendors face significant decisions in the next 6 to 12 months on how to respond to the economic downturn. Anxious shareholders and slipping quarterly forecasts may lead vendors to ignore their implied vendor customer contracts. This "implied contract" is the inherent trust a customer has with their vendor to do the right thing. It's a trust that the customer placed with the vendor when they moved from custom apps to packaged software. This is important for two main reasons:

  • Crisis of confidence among consumer industries will spread to B2B. Why is this important? According to the latest BBB/Gallup Trust in Business Index Survey, almost half (47%) of those surveyed say that "they have some, very little or no trust at all with the companies they do business with in everyday life." Moreover the trust in businesses, for 13 of 15 industries measured, has fallen 14% during the last 7-month period. The survey and index, commissioned by the BBB and conducted by Gallup, measures consumer trust in businesses they regularly deal with. Growing lack of trust with every day businesses will eventually spill over to other business relationships such as technology vendors.
  • Vendors who squeeze customers during the down turn will breed mistrust. As economic conditions worsen, software vendors often find themselves faced with margin pressures that eventually lead to cuts (in order of priority) in marketing, back office, customer service, sales, and R&D. Efficiency efforts often result in short term gains as management finds ways to be more efficient and improve their processes. Unfortunately, some vendors will go too far, leading to poor customer service, aggressive sales forces, and stagnating product lines. This often results in angry but locked in customers who will defect at the first opportunity during the next economic recovery. But the underlying issue here is trust. Does the customer currently trust their software vendor to do the right thing?

Software Vendors Can Take Proactive Measures To Improve Trust During Economic Uncertainty

So the real question - Will software vendors take a longer term view to find ways to both reduce expenses and improve how they treat their customers while delivering new innovation. At first, this may sound like a paradox, but unlike industries such as financial services and retail, high tech companies have not run out of cash. In fact, lessons learned from previous boom and bust cycles have taught them to hoard cash for rainy days or acquisitions. Most software vendors who survived the last economic rout socked away healthy levels of cash on hand. The real issue - convincing nervous shareholders that they need to reinvest a greater percentage of revenue back into areas such as service and R&D during the downturn so that they are able to capitalize during the next economic boom cycle.

5 Stakeholder Focused Strategies Can Be Funded Through Maintenance and Support Fees

Where would the money come from? Maintenance and support fees represent the most logical source. Recent conversations with insiders estimate the profitability of maintenance and support fees at up to 85% of the fees for products in the third year or greater in maturity. Further, most support organizations privately admit that not enough of the fees actually go back into the support organization, let alone new product development. Vendors could quickly earn customer trust by providing transparency as to where those monies are being allocated. Five steps that would improve ownership experiences and improve trust include:

  1. Lowering the overall cost of ownership. Customers seek rapid implementation methodologies, richer admin tools, and lower cost access to skilled resources. Cost of maintenance for established products should drop over time, not increase because customers also gain greater proficiency and can leverage self service help tools. Customers seek a reduction in the complexity, cost, and time required to upgrade products. The outcome - efficiency efforts will leave money on the table for innovatioin and new projects.
  2. Delivering hybrid deployment options. With SaaS adoption doubling every year and potentially increasing during the down turn, today's products and solutions should support multiple deployment options. Customers may choose hybrid options that require seamless integration among on-premise, hosting, and SaaS models. The outcome - choice will keep customers from feeling locked in.
  3. Increasing the pace of innovation. By reinvesting more maintenance dollars into the product, vendors can better meet industry specific and customer specific enhancement requests. Inclusion of customers in the design process of future releases, improves the relationship and provides a tangible value to the maintenance dollar. The outcome - rapid delivery of such requirements will build long term trust of how the customer's maintenance monies are deployed.
  4. Supporting greater heterogeneity. Vendors need to deliver on the promise of SOA and web services. Customer have sought improved integration from this next generation of architecture. The intent is to connect legacy systems and support best of breed vendors. The outcome -Any action to improve the capability to integrate with other systems will improve value.
  5. Orchestrating value in partner ecosystems. The larger vendors have the opportunity to show how their ecosystem partners can also provide a complete solution that support regulatory compliance and operational efficiency business drivers. Smaller vendors can identify synergies with partners to build ad hoc and eventually mutual partnerships. The outcome - customers will see the value in how ecosystems can bring new solutions to life.

The bottom line.

The most valuable commodity in this economy and in business relationships is trust. The current downturn in the economy has been exacerbated by a deterioration in trust and a lack of any one party to improve trust and accountability. Software vendors have this opportunity to take their position of strength and demonstrate how they can provide customers value during a down turn. In doing so, they will help their customers succeed and earn customer loyalty and good will when the economy picks up.

Your POV.

If your a vendor, what's missing? Will you be able to convince your board and management? For customers, what else are you looking for from your vendor. What will breed greater trust? Post a comment or drop me a line at rwang0@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Initial News Analysis: Oracle Buys Primavera

Oracle’s announced the acquisition of Primavera, a leading project based solution (PBS) provider. This latest acquisition signals continued consolidation in the project based solution market which is a 6.6B market based on recent market forecasts. Oracle’s move addresses a significant need as project professionals remain challenged by existing business solutions that force-fit production and manufacturing applications to meet the needs of knowledge-based information workers. The new global business unit is in line with Oracle’s industry strategy and will be headed by Primavera’s current CEO, Joel Koppelman.

As enterprises continue the shift to a service-based and project-based world, project-based solutions (PBS) are the only applications category that enterprises can rely on to deliver process automation, process improvement, and innovation for this new world of work. PBS transcends traditional functional boundaries of project management, ERP, CRM, and supply chain management (SCM) to include requests from areas like project accounting, change management, time/expense, and analytics that surround the work being accomplished.

The bottom line.

Oracle’s acquisition signals its intent to prioritize project based businesses such as architecture, engineering and construction, government contracting aerospace and defense, professional services, oil and gas, and utilities. Expect more consolidation in this industry as project focused businesses gain the attention of apps vendors and the users who already benefit from this project focused world.

For deeper analysis check it out on the Forrester blog.

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

News Analysis: IBM Storms Into Cloud Computing With an ISV Friendly Pricing Model

The War for Mind Share In the Skies

The recent announcement of IBM’s Cloud Computing initiatives represents the latest front in the marketing and delivery battle for customers, partners, and ISV’s. IBM has pulled together a mix of existing technologies and new developments into a four pronged attack that focuses on:

  • Cloud service delivery to end customers - leveraging existing Lotus Collaboration technologies (e.g. Sametime Unyte) and the newly announced Bluehouse, a web-delivered social networking and collaboration cloud service.
  • Customer integration of cloud services - delivering system integrator led practices around salesforce.com and Succeess Factors through IBM’s Global Business Services (GBS).
  • ISV enablement of cloud services - providing ISV’s with tools to design, build, deliver, and market cloud services.
  • Customer enablement of cloud services - helping customers deploy their own clouds through a suite of enabling technologies known as “Blue Cloud”.

Pricing Model Favorable to Broader ISV Adoption

With vendors looking to attract the greatest number of ISV’s into their cloud, OEM pricing often becomes an issue for PaaS adoption by ISV’s. Typical barriers to entry stem from a disconnect on how middleware is paid for and how SaaS models generate revenue, prohibitive upfront costs, and the lack of scaled pricing. IBM’s SaaS pricing pilot launched in July makes a pont to address key barriers wth low up front cost, fixed predictable annual costs, and a one year cancellation option.

The bottom line.

SaaS platform wars continue to intensify. Oracle’s announcement last week at Oracle Open World and this week’s announcement by IBM stresses the importance of this emerging battleground. As the enterprise vendors join Amazon, AppNexus, GoGrid, and Google, expect the convergence of Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 to hasten.

Your POV.

So now your turn. Do you think the enterprise vendors will transition to the new world or will today’s cloud vendors become tomorrow’s enterprise veterans. Post a comment or drop me a line at rwang0@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Tuesday’s Tip: Packaged Apps Strategy - Building Blocks for a Recession Proof Apps Strategy

The tightening credit crisis continues to impact IT budgets and 2009 planning assumptions. Ongoing conversations with clients confirm that most enterprises anticipate some retrenchment of budgets. As business and IT teams seek to reduce the cost of existing systems, several key enterprise packaged app strategies rise in importance:

  • Software contract reviews - leading clients invest time in reviewing existing contracts for new opportunities to reduce costs, anticipate business model flexibility, and contain overall vendor lock-in.
  • Vendor rationalization without lock-in risk - now may be the right time to identify vendors core to the overall business strategy and build stronger long term partnerships. On the other hand, vendors who have tried to raise prices or failed to deliver as a technology partner should be weaned off approve vendor lists, especially if you risk vendor lock in.
  • Shared services deployment - enterprises with multiple divisions and business units are looking at shared services to drive further efficiency by eliminating duplicate software, infrastructure, and staffing.
  • Project portfolio analysis - clients are looking to “stop feeding the beast” and reduce the overall spend for legacy systems while freeing up the remaining budget for new innovation. Leading clients deploy application scoring and ranking methodologies.

The bottom line.

As you begin the planning of your recession proof packaged apps strategy, leverage a long term apps strategy frameworks to assess people management and organizational alignment, business process definition and optimization planning, technology strategy planning, and solution centric ecosystem maturity. Keep in context the 4 major business drivers from efficiency, regulatory compliance, growth, and strategy.

Your POV.

Got a strategy, lessons learned, or success story to share? Post here or send a private email to rwang0@gmail.com. If I use it, I’ll send you a copy of one of our Long Term Packaged Apps Strategy reports. Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday’s Musings: Adoption of SaaS Models May Accelerate with Economic Downturn

All signs lead to an impending slow down in economic spending. Whether this will adversely impact IT budgets is not the issue, but how much will the carnage be is the concern being debated. Regardless, overall funding for new investments appears to be bleak which is why innovative business leaders seeking to fund innovation without significant capital outlays will most likely gravitate to alternative deployment options such as Software as a Service (SaaS) or other OnDemand models because of:

  • Subscription billing - why worry about the cumbersome capital expenditure budgeting process when you can sneak this in with operational expenses?
  • Rapid deployment - avoid the headaches of complicated deployments, the expense of system integration, and the cost of maintaining a data center.
  • Affordable constant innovation - avoid the cost and disruption of upgrades while receiving more frequent delivery of new features and innovation.
  • Purpose built functionality - most SaaS offerings are designed for a specific industry, role, or market segment. The result - strong capability in micro-verticals and other purpose built scenarios.

The hallmarks of SaaS are hard to ignore, especially during the advent of an economic slow down. Based on some of the growth rates in the previous quarter, vendors like Amitive, Concur, Intuit, NetSuite, Plexus, SalesForce.com, SuccessFactors, Taleo, and Zoho may have the leg up.

Your POV

Look forward to hearing your comments about how on-premise vendors will fare compared to the SaaS vendors. If you’ve got an idea or suggestion to share, please comment or send a private email to rwang0@gmail.com. Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Event Report: Initiate Exchange - Customers Confirm Latest Customer Hub/MDM Trends

Quick thoughts from Scottsdale. Initiate as many you know is one of the leaders in the customer hubs/MDM market. At their annual conference, Initiate Exchange, a few key trends emerged from conversations with customers and partners:

  • Rapid deployment still key to securing buy-in a the business level. The registry style approach lends itself to demonstrating quick value. This has led project sponsors to secure more funding for longer term MDM projects. Conversations with Initiate customers confirm that implementation times are quicker because of the types and complexity of the initial deployments.
  • Exchanges move beyond the healthcare arena. Commercial customers are learning from the trend of collaborative Healthcare networks. These networks typically share patient and provider data within and across their networks in order to support accurate information across the ecosystem. Retailers and manufacturers are starting to see the value in this area.
  • Scarce skill sets abound in kicking off MDM projects. Customers confirm that staffing of technical resources has improved significantly. But both system integrators and customers admit that scarce skill exist for project kick off activities such as setting the stage from change management, building the infrastructure for data governance, and creating and staffing effective program management. This is a trend not just for attendees but across the inudstry.
  • Version 8.5 generates a lot of interest. Customers who stopped by the demo kiosk expressed positive comments about the new collaborative data stewardship capabilities, streamlined user experience, and the Initiate Inspector Inbox. Those with Group 1 looked forward to using the geo codes in the new adapters.

The bottom line

Initiate customers remain quite satisfied with their choice and the level of investment in R&D by the management team. A growing list of partners continue to bolster Initiate’s mindshare in industries outside of their core pharma, healthcare, and public sector.

Your POV

Do these trends jive with what you are seeing in MDM and CDI? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Post a comment or privately reach out to me at rwang0@gmail.com Check it out on the Forrester Blogs.

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday’s Whispers


Congratulations to all! If you’ve got a change or know of a promotion, drop me a line!

David Corrigan is now a VP of Product Management at Camilion Solutions. David was the public face for MDM at IBM and the acquired entity DWL.

Ira Hall is now Acting Director of Global Revenue at Silicon Graphics. He joins from PWC where he served as a Director and Advisory Services Partner.

Charlene Li is now a Thought Leader and Founder at Altimeter Group as of July 2008. She joins from Forrester Research where she was a VP and Principal Analyst; and co-author of Groundswell.

Jeff McKee is now a Sr. Director, Microsoft OEM Division Product Management. He previously led various roles within the Microsoft Dynamics AX team including Director, Microsoft Dynamics ERP Industry Product Management.

Robert McNeill is the Founder at ThoughtBright. He joins from Service-now.com where he was the VP of Strategy and Marketing.

Mark Szeleyny is now Director of Product Marketing at ON24. He joins from Jigsaw where he served similar roles in growing that startup.

Eric Verniaut is now at Lawson as the company’s Executive VP of Lawson Professional Services. He joins from T-Systems North America where he serve as the CEO and Chairman - Americas Regions.


Got a scoop or something to share? Please post or send on to rwang0@gmail.com and we’ll keep your anonymity.

  1. Project Based Solutions - The word on the street is that there will be some more acquisitions in the project based solutions space. This market is going through consolidation and the acquisition of OpenAir by NetSuite was just the beginning.
  2. Heatlhcare Information Systems are all the buzz. The VC’s I’m talking to hint that a big name like a McKesson, Cerner, Epic, or Medi-tech may make the move or be the target.

(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 2008 by R Wang. All rights reserved