Dennis has a go at my Chairman and CEO….

Dennis posted about Kagermann’s interview with the FT. I normally like to read Dennis’ musings. He is acerbic, controversial and very well informed. He knows lots about accounting stuff.  I didn’t like this post at all though.

Dennis if this was a few centuries ago, I’d have to call you out at dawn, your choice of weapons, for insulting my good leader !-)


Instead, I’ll post this…..

Dennis wrote: 

Now I KNOW he doesn’t read my blog but for the benefit of all you SAPpers out there that do – have a whip round and please give Henning a new telescope

1. Kagermann may well read your blog. A number of your posts have been picked up by the press search (it has a section “from the blogsphere”), which execs and others subscribe to. This is called “early bird” and normally arrives in my email first thing. Typically this will pick up key announcements about SAP competitors and the state of the market. (it isnt a RSS feed, but hey it works, and with a  blackberry optimised version)

2. Winweb looks really interesting. But I had a bit of a look at the free bit on the site. One user, very limited functionality. hmmm. very free. like toy in cornflakes free.

 Dennis goes on to mock this…

“You influence people less by talking to them,” he (Kagermann) says of running SAP, “than through what you do.”

Doing things is always important but Henning: – ever heard of the idea that markets are conversations? Oh well. Can someone double up that request and get a pair of binoculars as well? And could tech support fix Henning’s laptop with Technorati as the home page? Or maybe fix him up with an RSS reader with all the SAP bloggers in it. Classic cluelessness.

3. Kagerman is merely stating actions speak louder than words, and he is right. I buy all the conversation marketing cluetrain stuff, but there is a big difference between conversation and talking. Kagermann is probably the best listener in the business. I like working in company that has a CEO that listens more than he talks, and does stuff without always shouting about it. When Kagermann says something I believe him, and that goes for 99,9% of the folks here… Stick that on your cluetrain.

4. The cluetrain site you linked is somesort of “clever” search site with thousands of pop ups, I narrowly avoided a big dose of spyware. (please remove the link)  the famous “read only” landmark is also unavailable. is up, and is the best example anywhere of a software company “in conversion”, at least according to James. 

Seconds, step back….

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HP move into HR BPO with the Nestle deal.

Read workforce management the other day, and saw that Nestle has agreed an HR BPO deal with HP. Rumours have been circulating for some time on this one. This is HP’s first major HR BPO deal. The scope is “some european” payroll, so it isnt a complete HR BPO transformation thing. My guess is that Nestle and HP want to try it out and build a model together that works. A sensible approach…

Nestle recently appointed a new CFO, and I think this is driving some of this activity. He is ex-Procter and Gamble, and they have an excellent track record in managing BPO partners. The HR deal is on the back of a deal with HP for parts of the finance processing.

I would expect HP to acquire an SAP HR consulting practice sometime soon, as SAP is the dominant packaged application platform for HR BPO. Accenture recently bought Pecaso, so who is next?

It will be interesting to compare Unilever and Nestle over the next couple of years. Nestle have an SAP HR platform which drives most HR transaction processes, but Unilever have a more fragmented set with a mix of PeopleSoft,  SAP payroll outside of the US and bits and pieces of other things too.

Bets anyone?

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google earth and pain

Funny how Google impacts much of what I do.  I use alot at work and home to find stuff, but until yesterday I thought Google Earth was a bit of a lame gimmick.
Earlier this year in what I’m realising was a moment of madness, Martin and I decided to enter the Giro delle Dolomiti.  (we found out about the race via Google) This is a six day jaunt through the Italian Dolomites. (634 kms and 14188 vertical metres)

The idea was to give us a goal to train for, and somehow justify spending money on fancy bicycles that should have gone into pension funds. I find it hard to stay fit and focused without a goal. Otherwise I sit in front of the TV and commentate. There isnt much cricket on German TV either.
This picture shows the second stage, which is probably the toughest.

This looks so abstract though. With google earth it looks so terribly real. You can download it here. (make sure you dont download the gps waypoints, otherwise it falls over)

my legs will be a mashup after this.

In September we will go up Mont Ventoux for Charity. find out how to sponsor us (Sig, Hamish, Dean, Marcus and me) here. We are using the wiki to organise the ride, and the web to raise funds for warchild. If you want to ride, just us send us a note via the wiki.

blogging, newmerix and the German SAP market…

I just got off the phone with Niel, CEO of Newmerix and the famous blogger who drinks with Kagermann. His blog has gone a little thin of late, but that is because he has been busy doing some Larrying. (a new verb, meaning to acquire a software company)

We had a chat about the growing market for tools that help run applications on a day to day basis, not the fancy stuff that will give you competitive advantage to infinity and beyond, and nothing to do with social networks in the enterprise. (more on that another day)  Newmerix is very successful as a Peoplesoft application change control management company, they have recently accquired some software (object manager) to help do the same in the SAP space.  They already have some strong customers, like BMW America.

As customers build more composite applications with Netweaver, they will need tools to monitor changes and assess upgrade impacts. This is where Niel’s lot come in. SAP has its own tools for doing some of what Newmerix does, but I think there is a big enough of a white spot for them to do well, especially in shops that run a mixed bag of applications. Niel has picked up a tremedous amount of SAP savvy in short period of time.

We talked a bit about the SAP world, and how it differs from the PeopleSoft world. I think he was suprised when I mentioned how big the German SAP market is, until not so long ago, it was bigger than the US market, and there are 1000’s of installations here.  Not just in manufacturing, but in every sector. SAP is taught in the German universities and colleges alongside other programming languages and business studies. This makes SAP skills common here. It also makes it tough for big consulting firms. The German market tends to rely on small specialist teams or individual gurus, rather than vast swathes of system integrators. It also means that there are less Peoplesoft customers in Germany than there are readers of this blog.

In house IT shops also develop strong SAP competence, rather than relying on lots of external support. Recently quite a few of the big german companies have spun these strong IT departments off into seperate businesses. It will be interesting to see how they do. (Triton, the ex Hoechst IT department was recently acquired by HP) BASF IT are a major player in HR IT services, offering hosted (sorry SaaS) HR services to local governments and midsized companies….I digress.

Selling into this market is also different from the US, so I advised him to get in touch with Holger, who runs a firm advising SAP related ISV’s in the German market.  

Niel lives in Boulder, Colorado. that seems a fabulous place. I really ought to visit. I’m meeting some interesting people through blogging.

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Yellow pages, UK Trademark law, wikis and passing off.

I sense I may be unpopular in parts of the ‘sphere for this post-response. Cease and desists are the talk of  town at the moment, what with the web2.0 farce, Redmonk and Gartner, and now  Ross highlighted the challenges that Yellowiki faces.  

I’m sticking up for the law on this one.
1. Very very very few judges are stupid. (some lawyers are)
2. UK law has stood up well to 2000+ years of change, it will cope with web 2.0.
3. Ignorance is no defence, neither is having a wiki.
4. If you own something, you have a  right to defend it against damage, even from small guys.
5. The Law examines the facts first and then makes a judgement. 
Yell is attempting to protect its rights in the UK- It is obliged to do so in the interests of its shareholders. This is a basic principle of the free-market system.  Yell, and the previous owners of the mark, have built the brand over many years, so rather than immediately jumping to the defence of the small guy just because it is a wiki, perhaps a more measured look at the case based on UK law would be appropriate. 

We are talking about UK law here, not US law. Trademark law is different, especially with the common law concept of passing off, which may be relevant here.

Passing off is a common law remedy. To succeed, a claimant must show he has a reputation, that there has been a misrepresentation, and that misrepresentation has caused or is likely to cause damage.

The wikipedia entry on passing off is actually rather good (that may be ironic)

It is up to Yell to prove the three part test (the three part test -reputation, misrepresentation, and damage), not for Yellowiki to disprove them. Yellowiki are free to continue trading until a court or a domain name abitration rules otherwise.

Colours can be trademarked.

  • Orange is trademarked for mobile phones
  • I understand that Yellow Pages is a valid trademark in the UK.

As this is related to a domain name, it is likely not be resolved in the UK courts (at least not initially), but rather by domain name dispute arbitration, probably by the WIPO.

These WIPO judgements involving Yell are worth a look at: This has some similarities to the case here. This case was decided in favour of the respondent. This also has some similarities. This case was decided in favour of the compliant.

To quote from that case..

The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the trademark YELLOW PAGES in which the Complainant has rights. The Complainant has established that it enjoys exclusive right to the trademark YELLOW PAGES in the United Kingdom.

Even if the term “yellow pages” is sometimes used to designate classified telephone directories in a descriptive manner, this does not yet result in a finding that YELLOW PAGES is a generic term and that the Complainant does not enjoy any exclusive rights in the trademark YELLOW PAGES in the United Kingdom. First, the fact that the Complainant has obtained a series of trademark registrations for YELLOW PAGES, alone or in combination with other elements, in the United Kingdom obviously proves, at least in the context of these UDRP proceedings, that under UK trademark law, the term YELLOW PAGES is capable of distinguishing the relevant goods and services of one company from those of another. Second, the fact that the term “yellow pages” may be considered as purely generic in certain countries does not have any direct relevance for the legal situation in other countries, in particular in the United Kingdom. Third, the fact that a certain percentage of the public uses a (registered) trademark in a descriptive manner does not yet mean that such trademark has become a descriptive term and that its legal protection has ceased. Only if the public at large would perceive a certain word as purely descriptive, the exclusive rights to a trademark corresponding to such word would be lost. Furthermore, the addition of the words “uk” and “online” do not distinguish the domain name from the trademark.

As you can see from these cases this is not the first time someone has created domain name similar to that of  trademarks belonging to Yell. It is difficult to say which way the case would go. It is not a case of a big guy just bullying a small guy with a spurious cease and desist, but a case with merits on both sides. Exactly what arbitration and the courts are designed to help with.

It is very likely that the inventors of the wiki acted in ignorance when they created the site, but this is no defence in law. When you set up an online business, you need to be aware that it may have offline implications.  Just because you have a wiki, doesnt make you beyond the law.

Instead of just jumping to blindly to the defence of the small guy, I wish that sometimes the collective wisdom of the blogsphere would pause and look at the facts. I dont know who is right, but I’m not a judge, and neither should the blogsphere be.

Yelllowikis call to boycott Yell’s products is more below the belt than Yell’s cease and desist. I may have even donated to their defence, but not now that I read that.  

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Jack Welch on HR and a couple of days in Zurich

Over the last two days I have been running a workshop in  Zurich on talent management with senior HR folk  from some of europe’s top companies. I think the session went well. Innes did a fabulous job organising….

No one left early, and they all promised to come to the next one! Once I have got my thoughts together I’ll post something vaguely coherent about it…. There is alot of cool stuff going on at the moment, especially in the performance management space.

I found this quote this morning, and I wish I had found it earlier. It would have made for a great discussion topic.

Leaders need to put their money where their mouths are and let HR do its real job: elevating people management to the same level of professionalism and integrity as financial management.

He stresses the need for a strong performance management system.

They make the company better, first and foremost by overseeing a rigorous appraisal and evaluation system that lets every person in the organisation know where he or she stands, and monitoring that system with the same intensity usually applied to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance


Read the full article here.

Let me know what you think. I’ll be including Jack (well his quotes) in my next meeting.

just as I posted this, I then found this survey from (v useful HR site)

 IDC says spending on software and services for performance management in 2005 was $973 million and forecasts that spending will reach $1.8 billion by 2009 growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16 percent.

Apologies for the long cut and paste

Some key findings of the survey:
    4The happy respondents are not all that happy: Only 5 percent of the respondents are very satisfied overall with how performance management is handled in their organization; 41.5 percent are somewhat satisfied.

    4The highest level of satisfaction—66 percent—is with how the performance management process identifies top performers. The second-highest level of satisfaction—just under 66 percent—is in goal setting. The areas respondents saw as most lacking are the performance management system’s integration with succession planning, and performance management as a tool for retention.

    4Nearly 65 percent of the organizations say their performance management systems employ only a little automation.    4Of those that are formally automated, 21 percent are using their enterprise resource planning system or HR information system to manage performance. The remainder are using either a separate “best-of-breed” system, such as SuccessFactors, or a best-of-breed system that’s part of a larger talent management suite, such as those provided by companies like Softscape or Workstream. (Best-of-breed performance management vendors focus exclusively on offering performance management or performance management in conjunction with other performance-related talent functions such as succession planning.)

    4Of those not automated today, nearly 45 percent plan to make a change in the next 12 to 18 months.    4Of those that are automated, 26.5 percent say they plan to change their system in the next year or so.     That’s a situation indicating “ample room” for performance management vendors who want to court new customers. Rowan says the level of dissatisfaction with the current performance management processes and the market opportunity it represents are the two most striking points in the survey.

Opportunities and unknowns
    If best-of-breed companies see golden opportunities in the dissatisfaction among respondents, they may be in for a shock: Nearly 57 percent who say they are going to automate their system plan to use their ERP or HR information system to do so. Only 6.5 percent plan to go for a best-of breed system.

We have some work to do  on our performance management solution, especially on ease of use, but it looks like things like Duet, Muse and Webdynpro are giving customers the options to make their performance management apps look how they want. As more global customers leverage these tools, I except us to give the best of breed guys a really tough time. We need to apply all that SOA and Netweaver stuff to some core business processes like performance management.




Links and the law…Gartner, Redmonk and a url….

There is nothing like a bit of IP law to spice up the blogsphere. Scobleizer and co picked up on this too, so James is probably getting more hits than an italian defender. I hope that this doesnt become another web 2.0 O’Reilly type fiasco though. I’m not sure we need a bunch of copyright vigilantes so soon after the trademark lot.

James of Redmonk has been asked-told-demanded etc by Gartner to remove a link from his blog, because it may contravene the Gartner licensing conditions. (I haven’t seen the Gartner letter though)

As part of my LLM a few years ago, we looked at linking, framing and copyright, and I recently heard an excellent talk on this at the computer law group in London. That said, I’m no expert in copyright law.

I browsed through my notes, and came across this.

links are references to Internet addresses, i.e. statements of locations without original content, which fall under the category of facts. As such, they cannot be copyrightable according to the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) or any other copyright legislation, for that matter.

If James merely linked to the url, then it seems there is no grounds for any kind of copyright infringement. If I remember rightly, James’ post linked to the copy of the report on the SAS website. (I’m assuming that SAS have the right to post the report. If they don’t, then that is a different can of worms, SAS’ use of the report would be governed by the Gartner terms   There was a case in the US with Apple that is worth a look at.)

A couple of years ago the German courts ruled that

The court stressed the importance of deep links for the internet and held that it is up to the plaintiffs to prevent deep links with technical measures, if they don’t like them.

I’m not a lawyer, but I really cant see how Gartner can stop you linking to a url.

The out-law site is a great source of legal related stuff, run by a major law firm. Well worth a visit. The editor made the following comment about the apple case, it applies here too.

There are only a few situations where linking causes a problem. Linking to dodgy material is one of them. Another is when the linking is systematic, as with news aggregation or ‘scraping’ services. But most other objections to deep linking will find little or no support in law.

I find the Gartner stuff useful in my job, it is often insightful, and helps me understand the market better. When I get a report via email though, I sometimes wonder, “am I actually allowed to be reading this?” I don’t like that feeling.

BTW. The report costs 495 dollars if you buy it from the Gartner site, but is free on the SAS site?.

I find their licensing and quoting process so complicated that I just don’t bother using it with customers anymore. Life is too short to get approval for quotes.

I started to read James’ stuff because it was free, and easy to access. No walls. See more on that here. I carry on reading it because it is insightful and grammatically refreshing.

The blogsphere is good for independent analysts. I read more blog stuff now than I do traditional analysts.  You should also check out Dale Vile from Freeform Dynamics.  My must reads from Dale.

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Preparation and the World Cup

As I write this, the disappointing final is heading towards a penalty shoot out.  Last night’s 3rd place game was a lot more fun to watch, but I guess that is because less was at stake.

Penalty shootouts are not the prettiest part of the game. They often turn the most experienced and talented players into jelly.(especially the english) The Germans seem to have the hang of them though. Germany have taken part in 4 shoot outs in the world cup, and have scored 16 of their 17 penalties.

What impressed me most about this world cup was a small piece of paper. (no idea how the bild zeitung got hold of the paper: update, according to another site, the bild zeitung fabricated the piece of paper, tip Frank )


This is what Jens lehmann had in his sock in the penalty shoot out with Argentina.  He had a database of several thousand penalty kicks, and had watched videos of all the kicks taken by the top teams in the last 2 years.  More details here. 

He saved two penalties, and dived the right way on the others.

It reminds me of what Gary Player, the famous golfer said. “the more I practice, the luckier I get.”

I’ll pause now and watch the shoot out.

I guess this means that Europe goes back to work tomorrow, except the Italians, who will party on…..

Frank covers the Zindane incident too. amazing that within 10 minutes of the game ending it is on youtube.


joining the mac world

My good wife’s 5 year old Dell laptop gave up the ghost last month. Well the space bar hasn’t spaced for a while,  so we used an external keyboard. The dell was generally showing its age, occasionally not booting properely, and really running slowly. A sort of Alzheimer’s stage of affairs. Then last month the screen died. 

By default we had always had windows, without really thinking about why.  Time for a change. Well we decided to buy a mac laptop, a macbook, primarily because it looks nicer, but also because people like john and Charlie rave about their macs. I have never met anyone that raves about their Dell. I ordered it on the phone, as we wanted a german keyboard but english software, the phone was answered in two rings, and I was dealt with politely and quickly.

The mac arrived yesterday, as promised. My wife opened the box and called me to say that how cool and pretty it looked.  I got home late, and I switched it on. It was delivered charged up, nice touch. And within 3 minutes I was on the web with safari. Everything worked.  

My wife’s copy-editing and corporate journo business and blog will be run from the mac. Let’s see how we get on. It may be trendy to move to ubuntu (see cote), but I think we’ll give the mac OS and iWorks a try first. It looks so damn pretty and friendly. Once I have the mail talking to t-online, then I’ll be really impressed.  Mac newbie advice of course welcome. 

Update. Thanks Charlie Wood for the advice.

update 2. Perhaps we will get the nod now.

moving onto DB2 and global HR systems architecture advice.

Warning: I know as much about databases as I do about using the genitive form correctly in German.

At the beginning of June SAP IT moved the SAP-internal HR system from Oracle to an IBM DB2 database. In parallel, IT completed the implementation of a Unicode universal character set, which will allow the use of all known non-Latin characters in SAP business systems. Both moves have increased the speed of the internal HR system.

My friends in HR and IT said this happened with a minimum of fuss.

Moving quickly away from databases, to something I know a little more about. Global HR systems.

The internal HR system at SAP is actually a super of example of how to deploy SAP globally. There is one core HR system, and this runs the main HR processes.

17 different languages
77 company codes
40 productive payrolls (32 different country versions)
55 countries
32.000 active master data
17.500 ESS users/month using absence ESS
In one single instance, on one client.

I’m not saying that this architecture is the right one for every “global” company, but it is technically possible to do all the core HR processing worldwide on one system. It is an approach that works for Procter and Gamble and many other multinationals too.

While looking for something else with the windows desktop search (neat tool but to be trully compelling it needs to work in my sock drawer) I came across a draft of an article on global HR IT that I wrote a few years ago, and I have included a couple of paragraphs from it here. May interest…

Global. The word “global“ itself has undergone much abuse. From being a simile for big and large, i.e. companies with a turnover of 10 billion), to mean big organizations that are somewhere else (i.e. For someone sitting in Kansas, the British tax office is a “global“), and even those bits of the business that aren’t in the US. The analyst and vendor community are probably equally responsible for this confusion. Whatever definition of global you use, my advice would be to be consistent, and don’t assume that everyone else has the same definition as you do. How you manage the seemingly simple concepts of local and global will be the single greatest influence on project success.

The local side of the story:

It is easy in sitting in the corporate HQ, perhaps in the US, and see the benefits of a global system. You probably have implemented the solution you plan to use for your home country. Your payroll and admin functions run smoothly.  Perhaps you have had employee self-service and other technologies running well for some time.  You take it for granted that your vendor delivers technology support for legal changes. You have a team of skilled HR technology specialists, either in HR, as part of IT, or easily available on the market. You now want to move to the next step, “go global”

 But in distant subsidiaries things might not be the same:

The HR function may operate at a tactical level.  Scarce resources focus on meeting local legal requirements and challenges, often with limited systems support. The HR function reports to the local Managing Director, who is interested in delivering low costs and profits, and doesn’t care about global talent management.

 So, when distant subsidiaries don’t embrace your global vision, it is probably not a conspiracy, but a reflection that they are bogged down in local administrative challenges.

 When scoping a global project, remember that it needs to deliver local benefits too. Otherwise, forget about local support in the long run. Global needs local buy in, otherwise no data will flow into your glorious global solution. Data does not magically appear in these systems, it needs to be put in. Global headcount reports might help corporate, but they don’t make local HR any more effective. A globally compliant HR system running compliance for the major countries will do that though.  Look to see if you can address local pain in a global project. Global processes should help reduce local burdens, not create them. Problems that you may have solved in head office years ago might loom large in a subsidiary. If you don’t know the state of systems and process sophistication in your subsidiaries, it is time you did.

 There are three ways data can get into a global system.

  1. Somebody types it in
  2. It is interfaced
  3. It is there already 

Let’s explore these a bit.

It is tempting to “command” subsidiaries to capture key data into your global system. This might work. It means the subsidiary runs two systems, one for local needs and one for global. If HQ has a lot of power, it means a lot of typing for subsidiary. If not, it means an empty system.

To get around this you might build interfaces between local systems and the global system. Again this can work, but your IT resource soon gets tied up in writing and maintaining 100s of interfaces. Not much space for innovation or change, especially if naming conventions and standards are all over the place. MDM and XI have begun to make this sort of architecture more flexible and cheaper than in the past, but there is no magic dust.

The best way is that global data is already there. If the global and local systems are one single system there are no interfaces. An employee hired in China is in the global headcount report automatically. When the employee is promoted rapidly, the talent management system picks this up, instantly.  This is the first prize. The local organization goes about their daily HR business, yet global data and processes are driven off the same data source.

 It demands a global system that can meet local needs too. This is not easy, either for the vendor, or for the implementer.

Large-scale global projects aren’t easy. Anyone, vendor or consultant that thinks otherwise is simply wrong or lying to you. Corporate politics, local and global differences, time zones, differing cultures and priorities make these projects a real challenge. To succeed you need a system that can meet local and global needs, a great team, an experienced project manager, and a methodology and executive buy-in and active support. There are no short cuts, no magic applications. Hard work, discipline and a focus on detail are essential. Here is a list of points I discuss with customers when we talk about global HR, it may be useful…

Ask why you want a global system in the first place
Balance local and global needs – solve local as well as global pain points
Communicate Communicate -Change management factors
Align with Business, HR and IT strategy
Don’t underestimate local politics (Works Councils, unions…)
Include HR IT in your privacy planning
Learn on the job -templates
Executive buy in from beyond HR and IT
Partner with your vendor/s

If you are interested in talking to me about global HR system deployment, drop me a note, or if you want me to write more on this, then ditto.

I’m hosting a workshop in Zurich on monday and tuesday where some interesting companies and people will be talking about talent management, we have sessions planned on shared services later in the year.  I’ll blog about it next week.

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