some free advice

Don’t try taking off your raincoat while riding your bicycle, you might crash. This is not good for your knees, elbows, shoulders and ego.  It also  may make a big hole in your raincoat, which impacts its ablity to stop rain rather profoundly. 

This will not stop the ride up Ventoux on Saturday, it merely gives me a excuse when Sig beats me!

I’m off to Sweden this afternoon to advise on a large  HR shared services project, and then I’m in the UK on Thursday to see a UK Bank about their ERP 2005 upgrade.  Friday we will drive down to France for the ride on Saturday.

I’d like to thank all the folks who have blogged about the ride, Dennis, Davids, James, JeffMark, Charlie and many more,  and especially those that have contributed to the fund for Warchild

I may be sounding like a broken record on this, but take out your credit card and click here


Well done Oracle.

Oracle had a good quarter. They beat analyst expectations handsomely. Woodrow provides a useful analysis of the results here. Well done Oracle.

I’m a member of a computer law group in London, and I’m always impressed by how competing law firms are so civil to each other. I see the same in Banking, in the Oil industry, in fact just about everywhere else. Why is the enterprise software industry so damn rude? Aggressive competition doesn’t mean that you need to bad mouth the competition at every opportunity.

I remember once in a demo some years ago the prospect asked me a whole lot of questions that had obviously come from an Oracle guy. I say this because the questions started, “Oracle say you don’t have this function etc.” After answering him, showing that his Oracle source was way out of date, he then asked, “what are Oracle’s weaknesses?” So he was at least being fair.

I said “I’m sorry I don’t really know.” I could have rattled off a whole lot of them, but I didn’t. I then said “I can tell you what I don’t like about the SAP product though.” I then told him. The account manager thought I was mad, but we won the deal.

Larry Elison has built an awesome company from nothing. Respect. He has some super people, and several excellent products.  Respect. He has lots of customers who have made him rich.

He would have been better served by not mouthing off about SAP. Instead he should have thanked his customers and his people for a good quarter.

I also wish SAP wouldn’t stoop down into this unseemly slagging match. If Larry wants to sprout drivel about what SAP is or isn’t doing, that is his business, the market is clever enough to realise that, surely?

I don’t think we should rise to the bait. We should leave speculating about Fusion to the analysts, and focus on making our customers happy.

As my mother told me when I was small and skinny, the best way to handle the playground bully is to ignore him.

Can the leaders of the software industry please treat each other with some common courtesy, please?

Understanding HR market share. (not)

I’m fond of the Workforce Management Magazine. It has a lot of good content, even if it is a tad US centric. If you are interested in HR stuff, subscribe.  Ed wrote an article on the market share in the the HR application space here.  He picks up on the differences between an AMR study in market share and a Gartner study, and comments on the strong growth in the HR applications space. I’d been meaning to write something on the mysteries of market share analysis, Ed’s piece prompted me to do it now.

I’m confused. AMR include consulting service revenue in their analysis and Gartner don’t.  This can’t explain the vast divergence in the two sets of numbers though. As Ed notes:

An August 15 report from AMR Research shows Oracle on top in 2005, with a 26 percent share of worldwide revenue in human capital management applications. SAP ranked second with a 23 percent share. In June, research firm Gartner Dataquest found SAP was the market-share leader in 2005, with 24.1 percent of worldwide human capital management software revenue. Oracle was a distant second with 14.4 percent market share. AMR’s figures include revenue from professional services, while Gartner’s do not.

Either Oracle is making a vast monster pile in consulting revenue or something is really odd in the land of market share magic.  Gartner see SAP ahead by 10 percent, and AMR see SAP behind by almost 3%. This a big difference when you are talking about over a billion dollars of revenue. 130 million I think.

The reports can be obtained from AMR and Gartner, but I can’t share them here.

Guessing or asking how much money SAP and Oracle make out of a single application is a little bit like asking Mercedes and BMW to compare how much revenue they get from steering wheels. Both vendors do stand alone deals, but most business is done as part of a broader enterprise deal.

What can we learn from the the numbers? 

Either way, what these numbers show is that with buying PeopleSoft and the activities since then, Oracle has basically erased the revenue that they were getting from their own  HR application suite. Let me explain why.

From 1999-2003  PSFT and SAP were neck and neck in global HR revenue, (based on IDC, Gartner etc) Some years SAP was ahead, some years PSFT, and the numbers changed if you included payroll or not, and currency rates also had an impact. Oracle would typically come in third, at about a third of what one of other two did.  PSFT was slightly stronger in the US, but SAP dominant everywhere else. (The US bias of the analyst community enabled PSFT to claim the “mindshare” lead, but that is for another rant)

 For the sake of argument, lets call it a dead heat. (I’m being overly generous here)

 1999-2003    PSFT HR rev =  SAP HR rev.

 2005              (PSFT+ORACLE+JDE) HR rev = SAP HR rev.

This is backed up by Gartner who say…

Oracle’s HR software revenue fell nearly 32 percent in 2005, while SAP’s rose 10 percent.

“Hi Larry, this is Charles here, we had an okay HR business bringing in a couple of 100 mill, and we have misplaced it during the acquisition.”

Am I the only one confused by this? For those of you out there buying software do these numbers matter?  What do financial analysts look at? Do they care? I’d like to see how Goldman Sachs etc analyse product revenue…maybe they have a clearer answer?

An internal request. 

My request to the SAP marketing folks is that they devote a tiny bit more of their vast budget to letting the market know what we are doing in the HR-HCM space. Every week internally I hear of new HR wins, PeopleSoft replacements, go lives and successes, but I don’t see many of these being marketed. There have been some significant product enhancements with ERP2005, but who knows about them? I know that is important to position other “strategic” stuff, but we made over a billion dollars with HR last year, and it would nice if you could tell some one about it.  It would make our job in the field a whole lot easier, and I wouldn’t have to keep reading drivel about PeopleSoft the HR thought leader.

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Ventoux (or van2.0 for those that are suffix besotted)

A couple of months ago I heard about Sig, and Thingamy. I was intrigued.

We got talking and realised that we both cycle a bit (well we invest our hard earned cash in carbon and titanium) We figured that riding up Ventoux would be fun in that I like pain kind of way, and we asked a couple of mates (Hamish, Dean and Martin) to join in. We also had a plan to use the power of the blogsphere to raise some money for Charity. Warchild.

Well the date for our Ventoux assault is set for the end of the month. Time flies. Sig is probably a lot fitter and stronger than me, and with better kit. (check out his helmet on his blog. I think he will have to wear it uphill, perhaps filled with a set of German tax tables) Also I will need to find some fit bod to come along with me and defend the enterprisey honour that is at stake here.  In SAP implementation tradition I may need a partner to help.

My training last week consisted of flying to South Africa, talking at a conference and lifting my elbow occasionally, and I am off to Vienna to for a workshop about compliance later this week.

So far the traditional fundraising method of bugging your mates is beating the blogsphere by a huge margin. We would like to see this change. Putting it bluntly if you think that kids who get caught in war deserve some help, then take out your credit card and click here.  Blog about it too. Thanks James and Dennis!  Hugh of GapingVoid has even drawn us a cartoon.

Here is what we are going up (eeek) and down (yippee) We plan to avoid any blood transfusions or testosterone plasters.

I’ll be driving down from Germany on Friday the 29th, and I have space in the Espace for another bod or two, so if you are interested tagging along, get in touch. 

Back from the Rainbow Nation…Mafikizolo and ERP.

Vendorprisey has been a tad quiet of late.  (Unlike Jeff, this is not a precursor to heading off to pastures new!)

I got a call to head down to South Africa and do a talk at a major public sector HR event. This meant that the blog took a back seat, as I had a great chance catch up with friends and family too. (I need to brush up on teched and all the other goings on in starship enterprisey, but that can wait)

I spoke to an audience of about 600 people on how technology can help deliver better HR services. I think the audience found the talk useful, and I wasn’t too salesy, no one left, and I got lots of questions. Check out the City of Cape Town project for an example of ERP stuff in the public sector. 

One of the challenges  when presenting SAP to a South African audience is that when you say SAP, people immediately think you mean The South African Police. I work for SAPthegermansoftwarecompany doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so well as it ought to, well neither does mySAPERP2005HCMpoweredbynetweaverandenterpriseSOA, I guess.

(UPDATE. I had lunch with an SAP South Africa sales guy today back here in Walldorf and he said the SAP name has its advantages. It is a great way of getting through the secretary barrier when trying to get meeting. See example here)

 “This is Greg from SAP, could you put me through to your CFO, please?”

Secretary, “May I ask what it is in connection with?”

Greg: “Certainly, I’d like to discuss your compliance issues “

Secretary: “Hold on, Let me see if he is available..”

Secretary “I’ve got the police on the other line, they want to talk to you about compliance!!!!”

CFO “Sh*t, of course, put them through and hold all calls for the next 40 minutes!!!”

 It is easy to assume that when you work for a big elephant that everyone knows who you are. I need to remember to keep that SAP arrogant thing firmly under control. We might be big in software, but that isn’t really the centre of the universe outside of our little enterprisey world.

The transformation in the SA public services is very impressive. The audience reflected the ethnic make up of the nation, and to have done this in 10 years is simply awesome. Two things that struck me immediately were.

1. How little “blaming” of the past took place. All the speakers where talking about the future, rather than the past.

2. The focus on making the South African government more effective and efficient. I sensed a real drive to be world-class, to do things right, and an openness to learn from both what the private sector does and what other public sector organisations elsewhere in the world do.

I was also invited to the evening event, simply, wow. I had forgotten how South Africans can really party. Most Germans only hit the dance floor when ninety-nine red balloons plays, and then only reluctantly. There was no chance of anyone remaining in their seats at the 10th Annual Public Service trainier’s gala banquet.

Go out and buy two CDs. one, for a mellow listen. Zamajobe. She was on while we ate, but you could see lots of foot tapping and shoulder moving going on. After speeches Mafikzolo  really rocked the place, everyone was on the dancefloor. I had a fabulous time, despite my distinct lack of rhythm.  I will be disturbing my neighbours with the sounds of Kwaito for sometime to come. (BTW Mafikizolo’s record company need to get the website sorted out, this band should be world famous!!!!)

I’d like to thank Irene Mpolweni, the organiser, for the opportunity to present and for the fabulous hospitality. Hopefully they will invite me back next year. Thanks also to Gail Walters from SAP South Africa.  

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Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

Second life suffers real world breach

Second Life,” the fast-growing online site where hundreds of thousands of people play out fantasy lives online, has suffered a computer security breach that exposed the real-world personal data of its users.

Or to abuse the bard further, there is something rotten in the state of online. Almost every day, I read of major lapses in security and privacy. Whether it is a bank throwing stuff away it shouldn’t, or the AOL debacle, or laptops left in the back of cars with James Bond’s details on. (I read these everyday because I get an interesting newsletter from the Privacy association !)

Back to the Second life and stuff. At the recent Geeklaw (GIKII) conference, Nic Suzor, from QUT law School in oz presented a paper on Governance in Virtual Environments.  (The slides don’t do the presentation justice, but do check out the naked gnome protest)

Nic raised the point that some people spend a lot of time in these worlds, up to 60 hours a week, and they have very little rights or protection.

Contractual terms like this worry me.

Linden Lab has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to suspend or terminate your Account, terminate this Agreement, and/or refuse any and all current or future use of the Service without notice or liability to you. In the event that Linden Lab suspends or terminates your Account or this Agreement, you understand and agree that you shall receive no refund or exchange for any unused time on a subscription, any license or subscription fees, any content or data associated with your Account, or for anything else.

If you are going to spend half your life somewhere, at least check the T&Cs. Would you sign that if you were buying somewhere to spend your weekends?

It is true that big companies often mess up with privacy. But I also worry about many of the web 2.0ish stuff that simply ignores privacy laws all together.

I like the fact that the FTC is handing out some fines.

The Federal Trade Commission announced a $1 million settlement with the social networking site on Thursday, the largest penalty levied to date under the Children Online Privacy Protection Act.

And earlier this year.

Data broker ChoicePoint Inc. yesterday agreed to pay a $10 million federal fine over security breaches that exposed more than 160,000 people to possible identity theft. Privacy experts praised the settlement as a warning to companies to get more serious about protecting sensitive information.

The Alpharetta, Ga.-based company, one of the nation’s largest buyers and sellers of personal information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses, also agreed to pay $5 million into a fund to compensate people who suffered as a result of the breaches.

I also like the fact that some consumers are beginning to take things a little more seriously themselves too. Look at the Facebook saga.

I’d suggest that anyone planning to collect personal data get their act together, sort out your policy, and make sure you enforce it. And while you are at it, put together some T&Cs that respect the on-line and off-line rights of your customers. Just because you are some hip new 2.0 thingy doesnt mean the law doesn’t apply to you.  

 I wonder how many social networks or virtual worlds have notified the UK data protection authorities when processing personal data about UK citizens. I wonder how many the IC will prosecute for not doing so.


A rant about suffixes, especially numeric ones with decimal points.

For sometime now, the little corner of the blogsphere that writes about enterprise software has been going on about Enterprise 2.0, either in defence of its wikipedia status, or discussing what it “means.” Dion Hinchcliffe provides a useful summary of enterprise 2.0 here. I’ve written about it too, as have most of the irregulars.

Putting the wikipedia stuff aside, there are two camps, one that thinks the term should be narrow, and another camp that thinks it should be broad. For the sake of simplicity I label them Camp V and Camp A. If I have placed anyone in the wrong camp, apologies.

Camp A: (McAfee, BoothbyMayfield+others)

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers

Camp V:(Mirchandani , Rangaswami, +others)

Enterprise 2.0 is the synergy of a new set of technologies, development models and delivery methods that are used to develop business software and deliver it to users.

The English language is bountiful, dynamic and often beautiful.  It has no committees like French has, deciding which words are allowed.

I wonder why we can’t think of two terms, one to describe the use of emergent  software in an enterprise software, and the other to describe a broader shift in Enterprise technology.

I could understand it if the argument was over a really fabulous word, like cyberspace, or the Internet.

The car isn’t called horse 2.0.

The lightbulb isn’t called candle 2.0

Fax (Facsimile) isn’t called letter 2.0

If we are so innovative in the 21st century, the least we can do is to think of some new terms that inspire. Think ROBOT, Television, VelcroRadio, even scuba (Self-Contained Underwater-Breathing Apparatus)

I propose that we bury the term, and boycott all use of 2.0 from now on (well after the office 2.0 event)

 If this stuff is really that innovative then it deserves a proper word. (I’ll save my rant on dropping vowels for latr) Dust off those thinking caps, and like inventors of yore, come up with something that one day we could use in a scrabble game.

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The long tail of ERP and HR software

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hosting several customers from the Nordics (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Denmark..) in Walldorf. We discussed the upgrade from 4.6c to ERP2005, Duet etc. I think they got some good info and advice. Ralf from our internal IT explained how we had done the internal upgrade, and how our systems are architected here in enterpriseyland. Stefan talked about SAP’s HR strategy. All in all a full agenda.

What was really interesting for me was learning more about our business in Iceland. There are only 300,000 people there, yet we have 20-30 customers, and the system is translated into Icelandic. (the language that the Vikings spoke) A partner has built an Iceland payroll addon. I wonder if any other “global” vendors even know where Iceland is?

If you go out for a drink with folks from the Nordics- be warned. They can drink schnapps like lemonade.

Geek Law

I attended an academic law conference on Monday and Tuesday this week, called GIKII. Andres provides a brief review , and I’m sure other posts will ooze out this week. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had never presented to a legal academic sort of audience before. It turns out that legal academics have a sense of humour. There was one latin maxim joke, and even that was funny. I will be spending some time in the BAILII  site, as it is a great source of UK legal material, and it is free. (interesting case here on what happens when an outsourcing agreement goes sour, but I digress)

I reckon topics weren’t representative of a typical technology law conference.  The sun shone in Edinburgh, which was equally odd.  (We ate at a restaurant called Howies. Go there if you are ever in Edinburgh. Good nosh indeed.)

The event was organised by Prof Lilian Edwards, (who has a very good blog.) She is moving from Edinburgh to sunny Southampton, where she will chair the IT tech law department. This is a strong department (top ranking of 5*)   Tim Berners Lee is on the Comp Sci Faculty there too. (the website sucks, but between Lilian and Tim, they should be able to sort it out)

I learnt lots, and it seems that my PhD thinking is not too shabby. I now need to write the damn thing. It may mean I need to blog less, but everything has its price.

Governance Risk and Compliance announcement

Big announcement today with SAP and Cisco. Webcast is running at the moment (it was when I started the post anyway), you can read the press release here.  I’ll post more once I’ve digested it and talked to a few folks internally. I’d be interested to hear what James makes of this….

Three main points… 

1. Accelerated roadmap on the GRC repository. (central system to record control, policies, risk, not just SAP content, but plans for other content too.

2. GRC process control application. cross application, dashboard, risk identification…

3. Risk management application. Built from the internal risk management tool from SAP. This thing rocks.

The combination of SAP and Cisco means that there  is good coverage of the infrastructure risk issues as well. This will help in delivering more support for COBIT and other IT governance models. 

As part of the Finance Best Practice Meeting in September I will be moderating a session on GRC, BMW and GM are presenting, as well as Amit, the Lead dude for the GRC developments.  Should be interesting. This stuff is so much more than just SOX.