Oracle playing GRC catch up?

In between all the SAP Business Objects pontifications, I just noticed this morning that Oracle has bought LogicalApps. This seems to be a rather delayed response to SAP’s acquisition of Virsa nearly 2 years ago, and another catch up attempt. In SAPspeak this would be a “tuck-in” but it is also an admission from Oracle that SAP is winning in the GRC space. It is a defensive play, and won’t really strengthen Oracle’s position beyond its core Oracle financials users. Nevetheless it makes sense.

LogicalApps plays in the SOX 404 and financial closing space, and from my understanding mainly sells to Oracle customers, and does well at it. Logicalapps has itself grown by acquistion, having bought Applimation earlier this year. Interesting also to see the focus on OMB A-123, a US public sector regulation. The customer base seems to be overwhelmingly US based. I’d not heard of them in a European context.

Over the last 4 years or so, there has been an explosion of GRC related vendors.Despite a rapidly growing market, more consolidation is likely. Perhaps I’m misreading this, but the venture funded 150 odd employee 300 customer, IPO unlikely for a while company is a tough place to be. Chasm jumping and all that.

I look forward to reading the Approva  Audit Trail blog take on this. Perhaps Mark Crofton could take a pause from winning GRC deals and do a post too?

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Big it up for Sun…and measuring Green

I continue to be impressed by Sun Microsystems.  Until I met James Governor and then started reading Jonathan’s blog, Sun wasn’t really on my radar.  Now I follow Sun quite closely.  It strikes me as a very innovative organisation.  I saw this announcement today about Measuring Green.  I’ve just been over to the openeco.org site.  Goodness indeed.

According research on cited on Nick Carr’s blog, Roughtype, a considerable portion of the earth’s energy consumption is from computer usage.

a global basis, Sarokin estimates that the computing grid consumes 868 billion kWh a year, or 5.3% of total consumption

There are other estimates that put this higher.

It not at a Moore’s law level of growth, but as we continue to consume more and more services, buy more and more software, the word will require more and more hardware, and unless things change, use more power.

About a year ago Carr wrote about Frugal Computing. He picked up this quote.

 The computers we love so dearly,” wrote Timothy Prickett Morgan in 2004, “are among the most inefficient devices ever invented”; most of the electricity that goes into them is released “as heat, noise, and light”:

The heat of computers comes from chips and mechanical components, the noise comes from fans and disks, and light comes in the form of blinking lights and monitors. Once any kind of computer makes its heat … the energy cycle doesn’t end there. That heat has to be removed so the computers and the people near them can continue functioning properly. This, ironically, takes more fans and air conditioners, and therefore more electricity … And while the electricity bills for running and cooling computers are generally not part of an IT budget, a company with lots of computers has to pay for all that juice

I think it high time to add the role of the software vendor into this discussion.  I believe the software industry ought to do three things.

1. Start designing software that has a lower energy consumption footprint. After all people buy hardware to run software.  The equation is a simple one.  I like the concept of the Green API. (tip James)

2. Build software that helps others reduce and measure energy consumption. I’m thinking here of supply chain monitoring,  for instance, enabling customers to make buying decisions based on green criteria.  When I buy my next car, I’d be prepared to wait longer for delivery if my order was optimised for lower energy consumption in the production process.  I’m probably not the only one.

3. Ditch the fallacy that software is a clean industry without externalities.

So when I read about Sun’s involvement with a community to help cut greenhouse emissions,  I say brill and fab.  There is a goodly dose of 2.0 community is this too.  Making it open source also helps drive it out as a broader initiative-

Our goal is to lower the barriers for companies to measure and report their environmental footprint,” says Sun’s vice president of eco-responsibility, Dave Douglas. “For a company like Sun, figuring out how much energy you’re burning is pretty complex. So we’re trying to use open-source software development ideas to take the tools we’ve developed internally and make them publicly available.”

Forbes nails the significance of this when it noted.

Innovators in the green information-technology movement reap good publicity from their ever-higher standards of energy efficiency. The real goody two-shoes, however, inflict those standards on their competitors

Measuring environmental impact of a business becomes and important factor in evaluating the risk profile of investments, so investment bankers and the like are demanding more transparency on environmental risk.  This is already starting.  Look at Ceres :

The SEC exists to make sure that investors have the information that they need to make smart decisions,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a group that promotes environmental standards among private companies. Ceres and the Calvert Group, an asset management firm, said in a January report that more than half of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index “are doing a poor job of disclosing climate change risk.”

SAP is getting its act together, but I think we should learn lots from what Sun is up to.  Part of this is about beefing up the GRC strategy to include a stronger environmental element, especially in the areas of risk management and disclosure, but a bigger part of it involves looking closely at the broader social implications of software.

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Understanding CSR..

I’m becoming deeply interested in corporate social responsibility, partly from a SAP product point of view, but more because I’m fascinated by the relationship between business and broader society. 

Much of what I’ve learnt about CSR over the last year or so has been through talking with James Farrar and James Governor.

Global warming is apparently the world’s most boring topic, yet despite this, James weaves carbon offsetting, the pope, Ian Paisley and Leonardo DiCaprio together into a most insightful, witty  post titled spiritual offset.

Not that the Holy See is being complacent about climate change, while it is clearing the path for us to the eternal, it is also still managing it’s own carbon footprint back here on this mortal coil. Last month the Vatican announced a massive carbon offset programme

I’m convinced that sustainability issues will become increasingly vital, both in terms of customer and shareholder relationships. It isn’t just about green issues, but the recent protests at Heathrow and the growing activism across the world point to a rapidly changing social fabric.

In the meantime, it is critical for all major organisations whether business, government or even the church to have antenna up, information on hand and be at the ready to engage intelligently with increasingly enabled and informed stakeholders

Welcome to the blogosphere James. Subscribed.

 

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Excellent move Lawson

In my little euro-centric large enterprise echo-chamber I tend not to think about  Lawson much. By many accounts they do very well in Healthcare and Retail in the US and they have a excellent relationship and technical tie-in with IBM, but even with the Intentia acquisition I don’t see them much in the EMEA HR and Compliance space.

I have more than a passing interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) , and I firmly believe that strong CSR makes economic and moral sense. Sun seems to be leading the charge from the hardware vendor side. James Governor has much to say on the green theme.  

Back to Lawson. Please read this press release.

Lawson Software (Nasdaq:LWSN) today announced a new initiative to provide organizations and companies software-based options to help them manage their growing array of environmental and social programs. Lawson’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative aims to harness information technology to automate and integrate the management of these programs to help companies meet their social and environmental targets, whether government-mandated or company-set.

 AMR see a market for solutions to support CSR.

Detailed research conducted by industry analyst firm AMR Research suggests companies are ready for an information technology solution to support corporate responsibility initiatives. According to the survey of 150 individuals in mid-size and large companies in Europe and North America, more than seven in 10 plan to use IT to manage corporate responsibility initiatives within the next two years.

Great move Lawson.  There is lots going on here in Walldorf, but I believe it is high time SAP started a CSR conversation with the market. Both Lawson and Salesforce.com are teaching the industry a lesson here.

 

 

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Compliance (GRC) SAP, IBM….

I’ve written about SAP GRC in the past, but figured it was time for an update.

At the recent analyst meeting, Doug Merritt covered SAP’s GRC story. It is well worth a watch.  He clearly articulates SAP’s strategy and progress to date. Slides here.  Doug looks after GRC, Analytics and Usability, an important job indeed.  He came from PeopleSoft a couple of years ago and has done a great of job of balancing “I’ve got a whole lot of great new ideas” and respecting our weird Walldorfivian ways. 

Business is good, strong Q3, product development on track, strong road map and the go-to-market is going well. Since  launching GRC, the analyst firms have picked up on term, so rather than play catch up I think  there is an element of (and I hate this term), shock, horror, thought leadership.  This GRC  market is growing rapidly, and it not just about SOX.  Risk Management, in the longer term, will be very significant.  (see demo here)

 The SAP site for GRC  took me to a Deloitte podcast with Lee Dittmar from Deloitte ,  Robert Worrall, CIO, Sun Microsystems; Holly Roland, Senior Director, SAP GRC Solutions Marketing, SAP; and Steve Taylor, CEO, Resolver Inc. You need to register on the Business Trends Quarterly site to listen. 

IBM’s purchase of Consul vindicates SAP’s  Virsa purchase, does this mean that the compliance space is consolidating already?

IBM to acquire Consul risk management, Inc. “Auditor-in-a-Box” Software Deal To Help Protect Clients From Internal Users Accessing Unauthorized Information

ARMONK, NY — December 5, 2006: IBM today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Consul, a privately-held software company headquartered in Delft, Netherlands with a principal office in Herndon, Virginia. Financial details were not disclosed. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and is anticipated to close in the first quarter of the 2007 calendar year. Upon approval, Consul will become part of IBM’s Tivoli software unit.

I haven’t seen the Consul product.

I’m suprised that Oracle haven’t bought something in this space.  I would have thought a cool compliance product that could connect across dozens of products orginally from different vendors  would be just what the doctor ordered. 

 

The Financial Times Rocks

I’m on the plane on the the way to Nice as I write this. ( I’m using the windows live writer as  my new blogging frontend. Cool tool)  I’m meeting with Shell, BASF,  Siemens,  JTI, Tetrapak,  Renault, TeliaSonera, Danfoss,  and Henkel  to discuss and debate HR shared services.   Shared services is well on the way to being the main mechanism for delivering HR administrative processes.  There is a growing process mentality in HR today, and this is good news.  More on that on the flight back.

I  picked up the paper as  I boarded the plane, because I left the novel I really wanted to read at home.   In today’s FT I read several interesting articles. 

Accounting-

A  new proposal from the accounting firms, suggesting that we move away from quarterly reporting to real time reporting.  There is dissent about IFRS, Lord Browne of BP commenting.

some would argue that IFRS neither produce a record of the accountability of management nor a measure of the changes  in the economic value of  the assets and liabilities. I would agree with them. What IFRS actually does is make our results more difficult to understand

KMPG etc would like to replace the quarterely reporting with real-time Internet based reporting. This would, they suggest, enable investors to gather information whenever they want it. I look forward to reading the report and seeing what Dennis and other accounting types have to say about it.

We all talk about blogging as a real time dialogue, but imagine if the financials of a  company were the same.  The systems implications of such a change would be considerable, but if I would make the market more transparent then I’m all for it. Some bloggers I know will  moan about the cost of it all.

Microsoft

Bill Gates continues to impress me. 

According to Mr Gates, tech companies have made the mistake before of believing in overnight transformations.

When it comes to back office ERP, we’ll have some things on-premise and somethings published out on the web. We think few companies will be  purely on premise, or purely on the web.

Sounds like Microsoft and SAP both worship at the Hybrid Church.  

Livedoor

Japan’s financial reporting scandal. Mr Horie sounds just like the US CEO’s in court. …I know zip about accounts. Blame my CFO. “I never studied accounting, A management book I read said to leave that to the specialists, so that’s what I did.” hmmmm. 

other stuff

TCO, Romanian innovation,  Where are all the women in IT,  How to guess a password, Strategic IT consultants,  a full page advert from Novell and Micrsoft declaring undying love, technical woes at the LME, and a funny quote about Google.

“I can offer one straw for Yahoo to clutch at though. As I type this in Google Docs, “Google” is still showing up as a spelling error.”

The FT rocks.  I’d even buy it.

 

 

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Counterpane and SAP

As part of my pre-global-warming-glacier-pace academic efforts I read quite a lot of stuff on application security. I’m just about to send the final version of a paper to the Computer Law and Security Report. It has taken ages to write. Howcome blog posts can be churned out in minutes but papers take months?

Bruce Schneier, the CTO of Counterpane,  is arguably the most famous security guy around. His Blog is well worth reading, covering such topics as forging a boarding pass, airport security and surveillance as art.  His books and heavier stuff are a must if you are interested in security, privacy and so on. If you are interested in this space, also read Jeff Jonas. 

Bruce’s company, Counterpane,  has announced a new solution

Counterpane Introduces Integrated Application Monitoring & Security Auditing for SAP Platform, Empowers Enterprises to Defend Against Unauthorized Activity on SAP Applications
Technological innovations coupled with proven correlation logic and security expertise ensure customers improved compliance, enhanced security posture and prevention of financial loss

Mountain View, CA – October 2, 2006 – Counterpane Internet Security, Inc., The Managed Security Company and the authority on enterprise security, today unveiled Integrated Application Monitoring & Security Auditing for SAP Platform, a new data security solution that leverages its industry leading Managed Security Services.

I’ll be interested to see how this fits together or competes with the SAP GRC offering.  But anyway, having the world’s top security experts helping customers avoid attacks is indeed goodness. I’ll have to ask Frank, he actually does SAP security as his day job.

I also read that they have been acquired by BT Global Services.  Ovum provides comment here.  Interesting that a UK telco firm is acquiring them. (Imagine the reaction if it had been a Chinese telco)

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