May 2007


This has nothing at all  to do with software. 

 

 

A little bit of Africa brought to you via youtube.  Thanks Adam for forwarding.

 

click below if you can’t watch the embedded clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

 

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Back in my distant past (1991 I think it was) at WBS , as part of the the strategy course, we played a business simulation game.  (one of those 12 hour games where each hour is a year, and you have 5-6 variables to play with) We played against the MBA types, who arrogantly expected to beat the post graduate diploma  management  HR and Bus Admin teams.  Every year since 1968  or whenever the MBAs had won.

The combined HR and Bus Admin PDM team brought a PC computer along. We quickly built a spreadsheet and simulated the balance sheets, cash flows etc of all the competitors.  In each round we figured out where to invest, and were able to what-if some really weird scenarios. This enabled us to figure out the core algorithm of the microworld.  The credit goes to Rob and Patrick.  Well, to cut a long story short, within half  scheduled rounds we had put everyone else into bankruptcy.  The MBA’s cried foul,  and protested to the Dean.  He was impressed with our strategy, so the victory was upheld  but next year he banned computers from the game. 

Business simulation and scenario planning has interested me ever since, and I wish I’d spent more time on simulation and scenario planning theory. It is fascinating stuff.

It is goodness to see IBM moving this to the next level. James Governor twittered about it, and later then I saw this on news.com

IBM on Monday introduced a three-dimensional video game that puts a businessperson in a virtual office with the task of constructing a more efficient company.

The game, called Innov8, is meant to address a lack of skills in understanding and improving a company’s internal business processes.

Process improvement is a critical component to service-oriented architectures (SOA), a way of designing software as a series of interlinked, modular business services. The software for modeling and running this modular software is called business process management, or BPM.

To get business and IT people (to understand BPM), you need to look at a simulator or game. It’s the way people learn today–it has to be visual and they want to have fun. And the businesspeople said they like to compete,” Carter said.

This idea came up briefly in at Sapphire, so it is interesting to see that IBM are already some way down the road to achieving this. 

Games have become so intricate and immersing that it is only a matter of time until they become part of the software evaluation process.  Simulate closing down a plant, or adding 3 new countries to a product rollout, an SEC audit, a takeover.

I also saw that IBM are putting full time sales people into Second Life.

(or click here if it doesn’t display http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJPwoGQAMAM)

This is not your father’s IBM.

There has to be a better way to sell software than death by powerpoint. Who said that buying enterprise software can’t be fun.

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I’d been vaguely  planning to write a more serious Sapphire tome sometime this week. The prod to do it now, on Sunday evening, came from Inside-IT.ch (a Swiss-online IT magazine).  It took a gentle potshot at us bloggers for not being serious enough.  Too much talk about ties and pictures of shockhorrorfun on flickr apparently. I was going to respond on the site, but the registration pages put me off. I just want to comment, not move to Switzerland.  German speakers can read it here.

 In theory I suppose I should split this up into more bite size chunks, but I find that difficult to do. (A bit like SOA)

Much of the blog commentary on the Sapphires has been on the brief sighting of A1S, whether it is market changing , the business model, whether SAP gets SaaS , and what it will cannibalize. This discussion is goodness and I hope those running A1S will read and absorb what’s been written.  I’m pleased that Salesforce are dissing us already, this probably means we are doing something right.

Hasso Plattner’s focus at Atlanta on the cloud and massive in-memory computing means that down the road there will be some fundamental changes in architecture and delivery mechanisms, even in the highend of the market.  Lots of ponder on then. (see Zoli on Hasso at Software 2007)

Other themes – SAP’s “embrace” of social media and blogging received lots of coverage, both from Atlanta and Vienna.  SDN especially has received heaps of positive feedback.  Harmony and other web 2.0 for the enterprise endeavours are also good news. Lightweight is a word I’d like to hear more of at SAP.

Charlie Wood has a super take on Sapphire, thoughtful yet concise. Please Read it.  (And if you are a SAP ecosystem guy, Charlie is exactly the sort of chap we need ISVing and making a good living off the SAP platform. At the moment he is doing stuff with salesforce.) Also have a look at Charlie’s post on the Pascal Brosset meeting.

But I work for SAP, so what was my take on Sapphire- not purely  as a blogger, but as an employee?  My day job focuses on the executives at our bigger companies, so fascinating though A1S  is, while it remains under the covers and focused on the space between B1 and All in One, it doesn’t impact my 9-5 existence much.   So what did I take away from Sapphire to motivate me?  What are the things that will drive business this year in my day to day? 

1. GRC is rocking. It has moved way beyond SOX, and with the Risk product coming on line this growth will further accelerate.

2. Office of the CFO focus. I’m a huge fan of the non-technical sell.  I expect the tuck-in acquisitions of Pilot and Outlooksoft will begin to pay off in q3-q4.  As with the Virsa solution, it will take a couple of quarters for the sales force to get on the ball, but once they do, this will ramp up seriously.

3. Microsoft is serious about Duet.

4. ERP and Netweaver adoption is there for all to see.  Both ASUG and  DSAG confirm this momentum. The naysayers have been proved wrong on this one. 2,000 new productive systems in year.

 This means that there are now lots more upgrade references, so this will drive further adoption. The dropping of the that dumb 2005 moniker will cause a little confusion and a ppt find and replace fest here in Walldorf, but I’ most of us are relieved to see it go. Henning Kagermann noted several times that this is the fastest release adoption in SAP’s history.  This tells me that the business is healthy. 

5. PeopleSoft replacements continuing. I received an RFP from an organization during Sapphire that nearly caused me to fall off my chair.  If they want a new HR-payroll, then, gosh.

6. Appliances. Enterprise Search, BI accelerator, and Duet. I need to find out more about these.

7. Endorsed solutions like Ruleburst. I have another post about them in the works.  We need to do a better job at helping sell other people’s stuff.

What else?

Henning’s concept of Business Network Transformation will become increasingly significant. How well a business integrates with customers and partners will be a major determinant of success. The same applies to SAP.(That is a familiar rant here)

 So, while much of the hype and ink spillage was on the SME, there is much for us enterprisey types to get on with selling and implementing.  The partners I spoke to at Sapphire are all busy. (Well done Axon, btw)  There is a healthy buzz in the ERP space. Nobody seems to be sitting around waiting for A1S. 

But my biggest takeaway remains Hasso’s comment at Atlanta.  Here is the clip.

This is SAP’s competitive advantage. The best companies in the world run our stuff, and want it to improve it.  I’m convinced that much of SAP’s success has been that great companies have bought our stuff, and told us how to make it better. We haven’t always listened, but now, more than ever we need to. Increasingly the future of business is not about internal process improvement, it is about the network. We need to gulp the kool-aid of quality collaboration and co-innovation.  Unlike most startups we have customers that lead their industries and trust us. Startups need to guess smart, we just have to ask.

Those that think that nothing is happening in ERP miss the significant architectural changes that have taken place over the past few years. Ask anyone who is building SAP add-ons today compared to 5 years ago.

The challenge is to still manage the add this field or sort out the molga  stuff, while elevating the discussion to a business level. This is what the Industry Value Networks and the Enterprise Services are supposed to do (neat wiki use BTW). Over the next six months or so I’ve decided to learn as much as I can about the Industry Value Networks and Enterprise Services. (a side project)

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the term  “industry go-to-market”, it tends to drown out the need to focus on the cross-industry processes that are SAP’s bread and butter.  But from what I have seen of the Banking Enterprise Services, I’ll probably need to change my mind.  Have a look at what the forestry and paper IVN is all about. The enterprise services and the IVN need to get more aligned, I made the same typo as Maggie did and I work here. We need to simplify how we label and explain these concepts.

 But basically if we really listen to this lot…

 

And get them doing this with us.

Who knows where this could go? 

All SAP employees ought to  read Sig’s post. He sums up this place better than I can, and I work here.

As in few companies, it seems that the “engineering” is still in the driver’s seat.
After the (only one it was) distinctly marketing theory driven presentation I suggested that one should draw a parallel to the car industry – BMW and Porsche are engineer driven, GM is purely marketing DNA. Then you know the rest…
Yep, SAP seems to be an engineering and product (tangible) driven firm, while… you know who… seems to acquire and drive forward for more marketing oriented reasons

Update: forgot the photo credits to David Terrar and Marilyn Pratt. more on flickr, tagged sapphire07

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Jason Wood takes time off from writing his epic Sapphire Atlanta review post to comment on the Oracle Agile buy.  I’m not a PLM expert,  so I have little idea if this deal makes sense or not.  Agile is hardly a poster child for growth, but I suppose  it does help fill a gap in Oracle’s line up…

But while drifting through youTube I discovered that we here at SAP don’t need to buy Agile. He already works for us. Here is Amol from SAP Labs in India in action.

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It is a public holiday and father’s day here in Germany, so I get to relax a bit.  At Sapphire I made an off hand comment about executive dress sense, and someone said write a post about it.  So I will.

Scott Schuman’s the Sartorialist is one of my favourite blogs and, in the words of the Kinks, I am a dedicated follower of fashion. Well sort of.  I do like a good suit and tie.  I’m a regular reader of the English cut blog too. 

I’m not a mathematician, but one of the joys of working at SAP is that I get to meet some really interesting mathematicians and physicists. Loren, for instance, who has a great food blog, explained basic stats to me  with the patience of Job. 

There is a fascinating book that anyone interested in ties or maths should buy. (I’m not sure who has my copy, so please drop it back) Two theoretical physicists, Fink and Mao wrote the 85 ways to tie a tie. The Mathematics of knots is, apparently, a significant field of study. They comment on the site.

Recently in the magazine Nature, we proposed a mathematical model to calculate and classify all possible tie knots. Of the 85 found, we duly predicted the four knots in widespread use and further introduced nine new aesthetic ones.

The maths is a little beyond me, but it is fun trying some of the different knots out. 

Photos from the sapphire07 flickr photo stream. Thanks mainly to David and Charlie. Herewith sartorial SAP. (corrections to my descriptions welcome from any fashionistas out there)

 

Henning Kagermann wearing a mid spread collar with snap tabs, single cuffs white shirt, and a pink woven tie. Knotted with a Windsor.

Here is Kagermann at Sapphire Atlanta. consistent look, different tie.

Ernie Gunst: Head of SAP EMEA

Similar look. Strong pink tie, Windsor or half Windsor knot. mid spread collar. In my opinion the trousers are probably a touch long, although this look is quite fashionable at the moment.

 

The pink tie theme has reached the SME market. Tom Kindermans, SVP SME EMEA. Midspread collar, perfectly tied Windsor (I think) . Suit probably Hugo Boss.

Leo breaks the pink tie trend with an elegant dark blue patterned tie.  Grey suit with faint pale blue chalk stripe, single cuff shirt.  Immaculate!

 Chris Conde, CEO of Sungard. In a bow tie. Excellent! I saw it close up later, and it is a blue and red checked pattern. Definitely not a clip on. (I asked him!)

 

For his keynote Leo wore a blue suit with a blue tie. The tie had small polka dots on. Single cuff white shirt, mid-spread and a half- Windsor knot.

Hasso Plattner at Atlanta. For years Hasso has often worn a very widespread, cutback collar, and he tends to tie a big Windsor knot. Here in chalk stripe double breasted suit. 

 

Hans-Peter Klaey, mid spread collar, quite long points, probably an eterna shirt. I think this is his favourite tie, as he wears it alot. 

 

 

Amit Chatterjee, head of GRC,with button down collar, Lucian check, single cuff. 4 in hand knot. This is a very American look, but the tie is probably an Armani or similar.

 

 

 Ian Kimbell’s tie, on the other hand, is rather off the wall. Much like Ian.

To quote my favourite novelist of all time.

“What do ties matter, Jeeves, at a time like this? … “There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter” — PG Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Impending Doom

Indeed. 

Perhaps  I will start a photo blog of developer attire next.

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I attended the SME session yesterday, but I’m not really comfortable blogging about A1S (NDA’s and so on), I’ll leave that to my blogging compadres- David Terrar has a post here.   My thoughts from the SME presentation  will remain in the twilight zone of written but not posted posts that lurk in most bloggers’ blogs.   

One thing did find out that I’d like to mention is that Woodworm is a SAP customer . Wordworm makes cricket bats  accessories and clothing. They use Business One. There is a nice story here on the BBC site

 

A cricket bat is thing of beauty.  (photo from the woodworm site)

It is super to see innovation and tradition blending together. The CEO, Joe Sillett, shows a deep passion for cricket and his products and a clear understanding of what it takes to run a business and the role that technology plays.  The SAP video is great, check it here.  The growth of the company is impressive.

 

As my son, Oliver, (2) will open the batting for Germany as well as fielding at cover point, perhaps Woodworm would be interested in sponsoring him?

 

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Sig and I were wandering the showfloor yesterday instead attending the press conference. I figured I’d give the press conference a miss. Dennis, James and lots of others were in attendance, so we figured that anything profound would be picked up by them. Instead, we bumped into a couple of old friends, and stopped by at a several partner stands for a chat.

Earlier Dennis pointed to Oracle’s poster fest.  On our wanderings we found a poster on a partner stand that is a perfect response to Oracle’s posing.  Sig took the photo with his Nokia.

 

 SAP, Wipro and Enableware working together is coolness. This is the tram to be on.

 

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