SAP is wired…

I read Wired magazine and the Economist in the paper form whenever I get stuck in Airports, and online versions just about every week.  Both write about interesting stuff, often with a witty turn of phrase. One, in English english; the other in American english. (My blog is in South African English with a twist of too long in Germany.)

Anyway. loved this from Wired  SAP got rank number 10 on the wired 40 list.

CEOs like their business apps to be just like their cars: big, fast, and German. While archrival Oracle expands its product line at M&A sword point, SAP rolls its own code, crafting slick modules for everything from analytics to HR. Can it meet the audacious goal of doubling its market cap by 2011? Innovation, ho!

I have said before that SAP needs to market its Germaness

I saw a  post from Jason on the SAP Oracle state of affairs. Check it out.  this comment is especially astute.

The ecosystem partners will tell you that SAP is out-executing Oracle by a significant margin.

SAP training classes are full as our partners retrain ex-Oracle and PSFT consultants onto SAP. This tells me more than a clever press release does. 


Environment, privacy, net-neutrality, myspace, Google and regulation…

Bit of a rant this….. 

Al Gore has done a fabulous job of highlighting environmental issues, especially in the US. I’m yet to see his movie, but I will. While at university in the 1980’s, a common bumpersticker on a battered student chariot was “my other car is a Porsche”, today it is probably “my other car is a Prius” The more people are aware of the problems we face, the more likely things are to change. Here in Germany, we are big on recycling, green power and so on, but there is much more we could do.

This post is not about the physical environment though, it is about  our on-line one. As we all know, Al invented the Internet, so it is aposite that I try to bring his enviro concepts into the web world. Other than using a lot of clean power (see Carr’s post on googles powerplant),  information companies don’t create environmental damage, do it? Well actually they do, but in a different way.

Just as smokestack industries, cars etc damage the analogue environment, in the  digital world spam, fraud, bugs, on-line child porn, online stalking and grooming, identity theft and privacy intrusions threaten our quality of life.  Technology creates new threats , and sometimes makes real world ills easier to perpetrate.

I’m glad that Karl Benz built the first car. (Actually his first factory was in the village where I live, Ladenburg) I’m also glad that the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety act was passed in the US, despite the opposition of the car industry 

Information companies create injuries to our privacy, either intentionally, perhaps through carelessness, or  because the tools they use aren’t up to the job, or because market forces drive them to do so.  Read this paper by hirsch,  Dean and law prof at Columbia. He applies the concepts of negative externality and the tragedy of the commons to the privacy issue. Clever stuff.

Vinnie led me to Eric Keller, who posted recently on data theft and the responsibilities of software vendors. He is bang on middle stump. (cricketing metaphor for correct) The issue is brought into a much starker context by the terrible mySpace case.

Information and software companies face relatively little regulation. All of us are driven to build applications and offer solutions that the market demands.  We build software to obey laws, but only when we perceive a market demand for those solutions, for example SOX, or IFRS.

As the digital world becomes more and more vital to our personalities, our jobs, friendships, thoughts, politics and  beliefs should the web and the vast databases of information about us be determined solely by short term shareholder value?   

As consumers and users of technology, we are like 18 year olds buying our first car. All we want is horsepower and a pimped ride, seat belts are a big girls blouse. If the seatbelt was an option, we wouldn’t order it. I think lawyers call this  Volenti non fit injuria

The ongoing issue of net neutrality illustrates clearly that information companies depend on regulatory frameworks,  They need the US government to insure that the net remains free, and not controlled by the telcos, at least this is what rocketboom in her Volvo and others tell us.  The free market alone will not protect those freedoms it seems. Shock horror, Google and co are asking for regulation. rightly so, in my view.

Also recently Google, Microsoft Ebay and others have called for federal privacy legislation. This is a sign that the information companies are beginning to realise that privacy is worth protecting. See John Palfrey  and Edwards for more on this.

This is not out of altruism. Google, just like a carbon emissions producer, wants to know its boundaries. 

Personally I’d like to see a stronger legal obligation on the makers of our online world to build it safely. When I buy my kids a toy, or put them in a car in the real world, regulation helps me insure that they  are safe. When they go online into myspace or wherever, I should demand the same. I would be failing them as a parent if I didn’t.

The world’s leading manufacturers have realised, mainly after significant government and societal cohersion that they have a responsibility to protect and nurture our planet.  Software vendors and Information companies have a responsibility to protect and nurture our digital environment especially where it interacts with our analogue lives.

The industry should  build safer, better, cleaner, privacy aware applications, or governments and citizens will rightly demand that we do.  If we are to ride faster and further on Al Gore’s information highway, lets build safer cars. Building privacy and safety into our digital world is not easy, it will be expensive, and inconvenient, but worth it.

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search rankings and the World Cup

Weird this. Zoliblog has posted previously on his google fame with Duet. Well here is your ERP -SAP guy, as a football expert.  The post got less hits than the USA did goals at the world cup, so I think perhaps dogpile is an appropriate name for the tool.

One of my regular blog reads is Davos newbies.  Lance Knobel twrites about soccer and world politics with a fabulous turn of phrase. Read this post and learn about boosterism.

I’m sitting in my little bit of German garden at 21.22 and the sun is still shining. I think I will go in and catch the second half of the game, befitting my new status as football-soccer guru. 


podcasts and big hills.

Last week I decided to ride up (on my bicycle) a big hill in Austria called grossglockner. It is good training for a race I'm doing in August, and for the blogger charity ride up mont Ventoux in late September. It is popular with the motorbike crowd, as the road is well tarred, and quite wide for an alpine high road. Luckily, it is the world cup, so most of  the leather types were in front of the TV.

I started at Fusch. (Edelweisspitze is another 150 metres up from the Fuscher Tor the last bit is cobbled and rather steep)

I dont normally ride with music, as it distracts me from concentrating on the traffic, however as I was planning to climb the best part of 2000 metres, with lots of it at 12% I figured some distraction was not a bad idea.

All the music on my MP3 player  is stuff I've bought over time on CD and transferred to my laptop. I've not copied music since the days of cassettes. I figure I make enough money to pay for music.

Anyway, my ride up the hill playlist included Davie Bowie, The Killers, the Strokes, Toten Hosen, Nesse Dorma, Libertines, Talking Heads (road to nowhere), Jack Johnson, Elvis Costello, Wir Sind Helden, chumbawumba(tubthumping), Juluka, Freshly Ground and Kaiser Chiefs (i predict a riot)

About 15 minutes from the top I started to hear strange, yet familar voices talking to me about  open source. Perhaps I was more tired than I thought. Actually, I'd managed to add a redmonk podcast to my playlist. Cote and James joined me on the mountain. It was too steep to take my hands of the handlebars to turn them off, and if I'd stopped I never have got back on again. James talked about how he was like a hosted service in the sky. This was hard to follow with a heart rate of over 170.  I think I ought to listen to it without the endorphins or cannabinoids.

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Google spreadsheets and SAP….

Interesting story this.  Google's spreadsheet endevoours have got a lot of hype, but I wasn't expecting to see enterprise application integration emerging so quickly.

Panorama has effectively integrated its NovaView BI suite with Google Spreadsheets to allow companies to collaborate over spreadsheets over the web and outside corporate firewalls.

It seems that two things drive innovation in this space.

1. It is technically much easier to do this than in the past. (All that clever SOAy sort of thing does make some sense it seems)

2. There is a market for innovation on top of the SAP platform  If you can find a niche then things can move very quickly partly because of the sheer size of the user base. Look at the Virsa story.

This sort of innovation is good for SAP, as it drives more users. The multi-UI fest continues. "How should I access my SAP today?"

Election report…..

A few months ago there was a lot of coverage about the "betriebsrat" or works council process at SAP. I wrote about it, as did most of the German newspapers. There was some nonsense written, especially in the foreign press and in the blogsphere about SAP being unionised…

The elections took place this week.

The irksome thing for most employees is that they were asked to vote in a election for a council that they don't want..

There was no violence (however, being Germany, they may have been some pushing in the queues to vote) , no evidence of fraud, and there was no recount, no problems with chad.

and so far, no need for any multi-coloured coalitions.

65% of the people eligible to vote did. I'm not sure what the other 35% were doing, hopefully they were too busy writing code, not watching the football. Here is the formal announcement

There has been quite a bit of reporting on the election today and yesterday, mainly in the German press. The vast majority of the elected council are anti-union, and the union types only got a couple of people on the council. (3)

I missed the Napoleon Dynamite candidate. (Actually, come to think about it, a lot of developers do look like and dress like him, and having been to some parties here, I can vouch that the dancing styles are remarkably similar…)

I'm not sure what difference it will make to the state of affairs here in the asparagus fields. The real winners of the election were probably the local tee-shirt company and the brochure printers. So, we now have a works council just like almost every other German company with more than one employee, a filing cabinet and a stamp.

An analyst from Ovum tries to make a story out of this, commenting…

However, something has changed in Walldorf. Once the undisputed centre of SAP's global expansion, employees have started to become more unsettled. They cannot fail to notice the increasing importance of SAP's US and Chinese operations and the rising number of non-German managers – which is only a natural development in a globally acting enterprise. Out of the newly created jobs in 2005, 1,300 were in Asia, 900 in the US and 400 in Germany, while 100 administrative jobs were moved from Germany into a Shared Services Centre in Prague. This is understandable food for thought. But these issues will not be stopped by a German workers' council; they could even be made worse!

I'm not sure that IT analysts should be the ones commenting on the significance of works councils. Line 56 then tries to make even more out of it.

My view: SAP's management and employees have a better grasp of the dynamics of globalisation than they are given credit for. The election results illustrate clearly that the vast majority of SAP's German employees understand that globalisation is part of SAP's strength and not something to be afraid of.

The German press coverage is better at explaining the implications of the results.

Die Welt: Unions well beaten off…

Handelsblatt: SAP votes for " the old system" – (meaning a rejection of the unions)

German FT. Den Sieg als Durchbruch für die Gewerkschaftssache zu verbuchen, trifft es nicht. Letztlich kommt es für ein Unternehmen weniger darauf an, ob es einen Betriebsrat gibt oder nicht, als darauf, inwieweit dieser kooperiert. Die SAP-Unternehmenskultur lässt da wenig Probleme erwarten. This is not a victory for the unions. The question for a company is not whether there is or isnt a works council, but how they cooperate. The SAP organisation culture means that we dont expect any problems. (translation very rough)

The most remarkable thing about this whole business is that it took 30 odd years for three blokes to ask for a works' council.

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BPO and standardis(z)ation

BPO is receiving lots of coverage at the moment, especially given the Accenture Unilever deal.  Big deals continue to be closed, but the challenge remains;  how make it profitable and scalable.Long term BPO success is dependent to being able to provide a process more cheaply and more effectively than a single "in house" operation could do. If BPO cant do this, then they is little point in doing it.

It will be interesting to compare the Accenture Unilever story with that of the Procter and Gamble IBM story. Procter and Gamble had moved all core HR and Payroll processing onto a single SAP HR instance (all 90 odd thousand people and all 90 odd countries) Unilever, I believe, on the other hand, has a big mix of local and global systems, some Peoplesoft, some SAP.

AT SAP, we believe that standardization and making use of technology effectively are key to achieving profitablity for BPO providers, and ultimately for the long term success of the concept.

If you are interested in picking up more about Morgan Chambers and SAP views on BPO, I suggest you have a listen to this webcast at the bottom of this post. (excuse formatting – the fancy HTML invite and my minimalist blog look clash..)

If you are looking at BPO as a customer, then this may help you figure out some of the questions you may want to ask your provider.


June 28, 2006, 10am EDT / 4pm CESTJoin SAP and Morgan Chambers for this free online seminar ´Hosted by SAP and outsourcing advisors Morgan Chambers, this webinar will address why sustainability is important in today’s BPO marketplace, the benefits of standardisation and the leverage of technology in order to successfully achieve this goal.Wednesday, June 28, 2006.
10am – 11am EDT / 4pm – 5pm Central European Summer Time
Creating Sustainable BPO Relationships
Recently, the BPO marketplace has seen a shift change towards a focus on creating sustainable Outsourcing relationships. Although there is still a recognition that short term cost savings will be a factor in any BPO transaction, executives are now looking to achieve more long term benefits from their Outsourcing contracts.
Targeted at BPO decision makers, analysts and providers, the Webinar will provide in-depth information on

: 1. What typifies sustainability for both the client and the vendor in today’s BPO market

2.   Why companies should be looking to achieve sustainability, including a comparison and contrasts between contract and relationship styles in Europe and North America

 .   The impact of standardisation on achieving sustainability in B'PO

4.   How technology can be used as a lever to support sustainability, and especially standardisation

5.   Which aspects need to be considered when choosing and implementing the underlying technology solution for BPO.

A case study will illustrate how one organisation has utilised standardisation, both on a process and technology level, as key to transformation and the achievement of long term sustainable benefits. Attendees will have the opportunity to post questions to the speakers for discussion at the end of the event.
Registration for this event is free. To register, please click here. For further information, please contact Helena Mancini at Morgan Chambers or Sebastian Burgarth at SAP.

Mont Ventoux, the echo chamber, web 2.0 and a good cause

There is a hill in France called Mont Ventoux, and some of us are going to ride up it for charity at the end of September. 

some stats from wikipedia

South from Bédoin: 22 km over 1610 m. This is the most famous and difficult ascent. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.6%. Until Saint-Estève, the climb is easy, but the 16 remaining kilometres have an average gradient of 10%. The last kilometres have strong, violent winds. The ride takes 2-3 hours for trained amateur individuals, and professionals can ride it in 1-1.5 hours. The fastest time so far recorded has been that of Iban Mayo in the individual climbing time trial of the 2004 Dauphiné Libéré: 55' 51". The time was measured from Bédoin for the first time in the 1958 Tour de France, in which Charly Gaul was the fastest at 1h 2' 9".

Sig of thingamy  is game, as is Hamish of the Cardboard Spaceship, we are working on some others, and we welcome any other bloggers (and non-bloggers) to join us. I'm hoping to do sub 2 hours, but I will be happy just to get to the top.

We thought it would be great to see how blogging etc can help a good cause, and we are using a Wiki (thehughpage), the web and so on to help organise things.  No doubt Sig and Hamish will tap Hugh for a cartoon or two. (update Cartoon has arrived)

  Good old fashioned bug friends, family and colleagues  techniques will be deployed too. 

So we are looking for some fellow mad people for the ride, and of course, your cash.

War is a wicked thing.

Read hugh's post quoting W.H Auden, and then image it with children.

We have registered  at, raising money for warchild. But feel free to set up your own if you want, and link it to the wiki.

..( I learnt about the justgiving site from a colleague at SAP UK who ran the london marathon, it is a simple and safe way to donate.

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I knew English lit would come in useful one day.

 The other day, while searching the web for something entirely different I found this

(serendipity indeed), what a fabulous blog, and compared to many analyst reports and marketing materials, remarkably easy to read…(once you get used to it)

My gentil rederes alle, what merveilous werkes we see yn thys tyme. BSL! Several sithes within oon daies space ich am astonyed with the wonderful werkynges of the Internette. Trewely, yt beth a thyng of grete wisdam and power.

I especially liked this post, and the comment about java (see bold below)

Dear Geoff:

I'm changing the taps on a plastic bathtub. I've got a cranked spanner to loosen off the tail nuts, but I'm worried that the corrosion on the threads is so bad they're not going to come off, or that I might damage the fabric of the tub trying. Because I'm working in a restricted space (the cavity between the tub and the wall – about four inches) sawing would take ages, and the fact that the tub is plastic would make trying to burn the corrosion off pretty risky, too. I've tried loosening off with a synthetic penetrating oil, but all it seems to be doing is making the tails greasy.

What do you recommend?


Frustrated DIYer

My deere Mayster Frustratede Dyere,

Ich do much wondre that a welthy mayster of the Dyeinge crafte swich as yowrself sholde haue a fyne and riche bathynge tvbbe with runnyge watir and yet haue nat the moneye for to payen men wyse yn tvbbe-crafte whane ye nede repairynge of the aforeseyde tvbbe.

For no man in hymself ys sufficiente for al nedes, and therefor as Aristotelis saith in his booke of Politique, diverse men aren ygrouped togedir yn citees and reaumes for to svpplie eche othir wyth hire diverse skilles. Oon man cardeth the woole, oon man spinneth the woole, and an oothir dyeth the woole a fayre colour. Oon man ys skillede yn the husbandrie of beestes, an othir yn the preparacioun of java-basid onlyne gamblynge interfaces, and yet an othir in the produccioun of artificiale guacamole flavour for potato crispes.

Thus, Mayster Dyere, kepe ye to yowr owen crafe of dyemakynge and dyeinge of textiles, and employe sum maysters of tvbberye to fixe yowr bathtube. Also ye maye wisshe to haue installyd sum of those jacuzzi air-jettes; they are helle of swete aftir a longe daye of travel.

It would be nice if writers of software marketing materials would offer a similar glossary. 

Chaucer is a great rollicking read. He was the Hunter S Thompson of his day. The Canterbury tales is the orginal road tour.

Reading this, you can see the shared roots of  English and German. Actually, I have just realised that I don't actually speak German, just a form of middle english.

My regular readers may remember that English lit helped with a pivotal moment a good few years, described here.)

Deutschland, America, flags and the (fifa) world cup.

One of the many things that struck me when I’ve visited the USA is the pride with which many Americans show off their flag and are often openly patriotic. It is not unusual to see huge flagpoles with vast flags in relatively modest gardens.


 Americans often wear their patriotism on their sleeves, literally too. Some find this  jarring, but I don’t.  In business American based companies have used this well, and have effectively marketed the American dream around the world. 

This sense of cheeriness and optimism and belief in “the American way and dream” has helped American business tremedously. 

I think the likes of IBM are beginning to understand the limits of this (see the CEOS letter to the FT) He is dead right about the “colonial” model, and the need to adapt. This relates to software design too, but that would be a book, not just a post….

I grew up in South Africa, and one of the most hated symbols by many was the old flag. But the new flag is a fabulous rallying symbol to all, and is on cars, tee-shirts and flag poles all over the place.

German patriotism is a much more complex thing. Germany’s past is unavoidable, and most Germans are not at all open about being “patriotic” Germans rarely seem to give of the  impression that they are proud to be German, even if they may feel so inside. Instead, complaining about Germany is too cool, and easy to do, and is done too often.

The world cup is changing this, everywhere flags abound. Germans are out there supporting their team, and at the same time feeling good about being German and hosting this magnificent event.  It is helping to create a positive stimmung (feeling) that I havent felt in 10 years of visiting and living here.

I watched a TV programme this morning where one of the politicians was getting upset about this wave of German nationalism. (At least that is what I thought he was on about. political german is nearly as complex as SOA  German.)

I think he is so wrong. Maybe Germans are just realising that it is okay to be proud about where you are from. This is a good thing.

German companies like SAP should do more of the same. Germany is the world export champion at the moment. Here’s hoping that Germany win the World cup too.

MTV get it.