May 2006


Google will have us believe that search is the holy grail. (apologies Dan Brown)  Nicholas
Carr on roughtype comments on Google's attempts to surplant GUIs with search. I don't buy it. Charles, a fellow SAPler has some doubts too.

There is a lot of Google myopia at the moment with everyone wondering what will google do next. I'd like to stop thinking about Google and look at enterprise search more generally.

If enterprise search is such a big deal, howcome Autonomy isn't making SAP or Oracle kind of money?  By all accounts, the technology is brilliant (lots of maths PhDs)

Autonomy is founded on a unique combination of technologies borne out of research carried out at Cambridge University. Autonomy's strength lies in advanced pattern-matching techniques (non-linear adaptive digital signal processing), rooted in the theories of Bayesian Inference and Claude Shannon's Principles of Information, that enable identification of the patterns that naturally occur in text, based on the usage and frequency of words or terms that correspond to specific concepts 

 The company has 

  • a solid track record
  • is well run.
  • a very impressive government and blue chip customer base
  • Strong partners.

 It growing fast at the moment, but 50 million dollars revenue is not a big number. 

I don't think enterprise search is as bigger deal as Google and co think it is. If it was Autonomy would be 10x the size it is, or would have been snapped up by someone else for a big number.

If I'm wrong and enterprise search does end up being a really big thing, then Autonomy would seem to me to be a better bet than Google.  -Over 5 years track record in deploying search in the enterprise , understand stuff like security, ERP  and LDAP integration, have partners to configure the stuff, ……

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This has nothing to do with SAP, Sapphire and so on. 

I watched the champions league final last night.  I enjoy football but I'm really sick and tired about how everyone blames the referee. The managers, the players and so on.

Wenger and Henry both criticised referee Terje Hauge and his linesmen because they thought Eto'o's goal was offside.

Henry said: "I don't know if the referee was wearing a Barcelona shirt. If the referee did not want us to win he should have said so from the off.

"Some of the calls were strange. I believe the referee did not do his job. I would have liked to have seen a proper referee."

Wenger had no complaints about Lehmann's sending off, for a trip on Eto'o, but was furious about the Cameroon striker's goal.

The Arsenal boss said: "My biggest regret is that the first goal was offside.

"When you are 11 against 10 and you concede an offside goal, it's very difficult to accept.

Every game seems to be the same. The referee gets the blame. I think the commentators are the worst of the lot. more time is spent moaning about the ref than is spent on the game.

In cricket, the umpire is equally important. But if you show any dissent, it is called bringing the game into disrepute, and you get fined a big chunk of your match fee. In Rugby you get a card, or 10 metres on the foul.

My suggestions to fix football.

1. any dissent. Yellow card. Second time Red. The player will be fined a weeks wage, and the money donated to  charity.

2. All managers should be a referee for a season before they get their licence to manage a top team.

3. All commentators should ref at least one game. This would be televised and critiqued by a panel of referees.

Football needs the referees. It is about time they got some respect.

In the buzz about Duet, it is maybe worth reminding you about the SAP-Abobe forms integration.  I have written about this before It is at the core of the new HR administrator role, and is fundamental to most of the manager self service stuff.  The interactive forms tools are really powerful, and any customer on ERP 2004 or ERP 2005 needs to look at them now! Even those on earlier releases can do some cool stuff.

Beyond HR there is much  happening with records management, especially for complex public sector type processes. (Tax forms and so on)

I have just got off the phone with Henry Blythe, commercal director at Arch  Arch is a niche consultancy, and they just focus on Adobe SAP integration. Give them a call. they have done some really awesome stuff in government forms handling and in HR, and they have some really innovative ideas for e-recruitment…

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I've watched a bit of the US sapphire via SAP TV. you can do the same if you register at sap.com.

So far, the most interesting bit was the ADP cameo in Leo's keynote. check it out. ADP's CEO elect, Gary Butler posed the question "why are SAP and ADP working together?"   dont they compete in the HR space?  

 Well, the answer is the offering GlobalView. This combines SAP's HCM and CRM solutions with ADP service delivery. good stuff. This isnt just an announcement about future plans to work together. ADP have invested over 50 million dollars setting up the architecture and getting templates etc in order, and will invest another 50 million over the next two years to expand the service to more than 50 countries.

The payment model is novel, as you only pay when you go live. Also they have 50 major mulitnationals signed upto to this already, with over 500 000 employees! (Microsoft, AHOLD, NCR, CISCO, Unisys, Celestica, EMC….)   

The model works for the customer, they pay for a service when it goes live and as they consume it. ADP can focus on service, not trying to build software. It works for SAP, as the customer is on an SAP platform, and we have a new revenue stream.  It wasnt easy putting this deal together, and both ADP and SAP had to change a lot of internal doubters to drive it through. Our BPO team have done a great job in aligning the goto market and our sales organisation too (there is even a BPO safe passage option).  The guy who ran the  SAP EMEA HR business, Phillip Booth, is driving the relationship from the SAP side. ADP are really scaling up on this too.

Does this shake up the BPO space. You bet.  Hewitt is the odd one out still clinging to the venerable Cyborg. ACS, Convergys, Arinso are all in the SAP boat. I think this shows a lot of HR thought leadership from SAP. 

BPO is here to stay. SAP gets it. What is Oracle's BPO story? Anyone? I'd be interested to see what the other HR tech and BPO bloggers have to say on this one, Dubs, Human Capitalist, Vinnie…..?  

IBM have announced Harmony. "I'd like to teach the world to sing" will probably be coming to a Software conference near you soon. eeek. For those companies that have a strong lotus notes culture, the IBM play makes a lot of sense. Bringing SAP to more users is good for SAP. (avoided the notes-harmony pun as it would have been a bit flat)

Building new interfaces to SAP isn't a new game, but it has got a whole lot easier. With Netweaver, SAP did a lot of work to "decouple" application logic and the presentation logic. Customers are starting to benefit from this technical change. We are moving rapidly to a multi-UI world.

Duet and Harmony are two big plays that take advantage of this, but I expect to see a lot more. Already, blackberrys and other mobile devices are creating new ways to work with SAP. I'm hearing about all sorts of cool stuff with the latest voice technologies. There will be a lot more UI innovation taking place on top of the the SAP platform, and this is good for the customer. If 3M could develop a post-it version, I'd demo it tomorrow. 

I'm not convinced that the world needs to run in a browser either. I'm reminded of a piece that I read from Alan Cooper. in the distant past of 2001 he said.

The browser is a red herring; it's a dead end. The idea of having batched processing inside a very stupid program that's controlled remotely is a software architecture that was invented about 25 years ago by IBM, and was abandoned about 20 years ago because it's a bad architecture. We've gone tremendously retrograde by bringing in Web browsers. Now we have an infinite variety of computers all around the world and an infinite variety of remote sites all around the world. That's the power. And the power would be greater and the capabilities would be three orders of magnitude greater if we could get rid of this old, stupid, stinking technology of browsers. We have stepped backward in terms of user interface, capability, and the breadth of our thinking about what we could do as a civilization. The browser is a very weak and stupid program because it was written as essentially a master's thesis inside a university and as an experiment. Internet Explorer is nothing more than a master's thesis program.

put that in the the web 2.0 pipe and smoke it.

UPDATE:

Josh Greenbaum provides a view on IBM's strategy. Check it out here.

Charlie  Jeff and  others have mentioned that Duet has miffed off some of the folks from Microsoft business systems (see here). Any significant alliance is going to upset part of a big business.

Oracle Application presales guys get really upset because more SAP applications run on Oracle databases than do Oracle applications. 

At SAP we have a lot of discussions about how Duet and the Portal work together and overlap. The guys who built the calendar feature in the SAP portal probably don't like Duet either.  I dont think we have all the answers yet.

For me, the interesting thing about Duet is not the product.

Okay, Yes, it does all that bringing SAP apps to the familiar desktop of the user etc, but Outlook has been arounds for aeons. SAP has been doing employee self service since the mid 1990s, we have sold over 13 million ESS users.

What is interesting to me,

1. It is a joint development. SAP developers and Microsoft developers working on the same product, together. In joint teams. SAP's dev lead on this is one of our best.

2. It will be sold and marketed by both companies.

The second point here is going to be key. How will we and Microsoft go to market, how will the Microsoft salesforce line up behind Duet? In the "early" accounts where I have been involved, I've seen strong colaboration between MSFT and SAP teams.

 If I was a top sales guy at MSFT, what would I rather be selling 

I have realised that if you have a blog, it is compulsory to write a post about the book "the world is flat."  I read the book on the plane flying to home to South Africa from Germany last month. It was a good read, if a tad repetitive, and occasionally naive, and a lot of it reads like basic common sense.

The flight was made interesting by the guy I sat next to. He is an artist from Mozambique, Mankew Mahumnana, and he had just come from an exhibition in Germany. I have no portuguese, he had little english or german, so we communicated in zulu. I say communicate, because my zulu is very very very  shabby, but somehow we got on well. His art is really cool stuff.

 

He drew me a picture in the back of my world is flat book, and signed it. I now want to get him to do something for my lounge at home.

The world is flat. I meet an artist from mozambique on a plane and hopefully he will  do something for my lounge in Germany.

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