In recent post (s) on ZDNET, amongst other things, Dennis Howlett has another go at SAP for being too conservative, brittle, wedded to the past, and so on. I disagree with him, but he is entitled to his own opinions.
I might be mellowing; but If I commented on everything on the ZDNET blogs written about SAP and ERP that I disagree with, I wouldn’t get any day job done, talk to customers, or see my family.
However, this statement….
…It may satisfy in the short term and absolutely plays to the laggard businesses to which SAP must be selling.
Made me fume. Calling our customers laggards is low, shallow and simply plain wrong. It is also downright rude.
(photo thanks to David Terrar’s Sapphire Flickr stream)
So Dennis, 41,000 laggards?
Customers trust us to help run their businesses. They don’t want us to experiment with their invoicing, supply chains, customer data, core banking systems and inventory systems. They don’t want us to jump from fad to fad. If we let something new loose on 41,000 customers it had better work. This is a huge responsibility. To knock engineering is to fundamentally fail to understand the business that we are in. Our customers demand consistency, reliability and innovation. Learning from the best companies in the world is a serious competitive advantage, it is also damn hard. Sometimes we get it wrong.
When we ship product, it isn’t an experiment. Perpetual beta is not a good model for payroll or availibility to promise. Businesses stop working when this stuff fails, as is often and rightly pointed out.
We need to balance this operational reality with the need to innovate for the future. This is what Dan Farber missed when he talked to Denis Browne about the imagineering team. With a big chunk of the world’s economy running SAP software, healthy scepticism about this weeks’s next great thing exactly what is required. The insight to spot the real innovation in a sea of neat ideas and hyped up concepts and mobilising it in a SAP relevant context is what Denis Browne and his team does profoundly well.