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. 


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.


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.  


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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Wikis, users and ERP…

Disclaimer: Having first actually added something to a wiki all of nine months ago  I can hardly call myself a wiki expert-pioneer.  Here at SAP there is a tremendous amount of wiki related activity,  behind the firewall it has been going on for years and now, outside, with the Wiki over on SDN.  Check it out.

Yet not everyone here gets the free-format emergent nature of a wiki.

Tesha definitely gets it. She is one of the key drivers behind the SDN wiki. 

She  forwarded me this email the other day.  It was sent by a colleague.


I realized, that within the Wiki, I would be able to change every content in the Edit area (or even delete it!)- is that really the purpose of that forum? I think, that should be restricted.

It made me laugh for a second and feel  smug because I have drunk the emergence kool-aid, but  I then realised that a year ago I would have probably said pretty much the same thing.  For many people the lack of control and structure is  unnerving, especially here in Enterpriseyland.  It is easy to understand why.

One of the key functions of an ERP system is to stop users entering stuff wrongly. That’s why there are lots of rules and tables and so on.  It is amazing how many users will enter Mr and Female unless there is a validation to stop it,  put Fred on the executive stock programme when he  should on the telesales employee of the month lunch token programme, or order too many pencils.  

ERP systems are about control, accuracy, repetition, discipline and execution. They help you run the business, consistently. Consistence is cool.

 Normally, you don’t want just anyone getting creative with the invoicing process,  embracing chaos in the goods receivable department,  grassroots movements in MRO,  an out of the box way to calculate VAT,  mashing up  intracompany account reconcilation, or  paradigm shifting the shift schedules.

If you think about it  a bit more deeply, one of the goals of an ERP system is to have as few users fiddling with the process as possible.  Automation, lights out processing, end to end.  Put brutally, the fewer users to mess up the process the better.  The fastest, slickest, most cost effective processes tend not to have any users  at all.

JP discussed McAfee’s HBR article, and made this insightful comment….

He does not say “IT that is specified by random and ever-changing and poorly articulated and inconsistent and sometimes even nonexistent business processes.”

He is so right. 

 Enterprise applications aren’ t all about passionate users.    

We need to eat the process broccoli, not just the UI ice cream.


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SAP’s secret language (no not ABAP)

I read a lot about how written and spoken English is heading down hill.

Buy this book, The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language or, if you like, I can lend you my copy. I suggest you also buy this book. The Adventure of English, by Melvyn Bragg. Whoever borrowed my copy please give it back. The English language though, is fascinating and dynamic. I quote from the review…

“In this book Melvyn Bragg shows us the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings to a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language.”

My wife and I speak a minor guttural Germanic dialect too. It is a mix of German words with our own unique take on German Grammar and pronunciation. She describes it here.

While my vocabulary is always growing, my grammar is like a rebellious teenager: refusing to grow up and refine itself.

We lived in Germany from 1996-1999, and then we moved to the UK for a couple of years. In order to keep my German going I went to German lessons. At first, the teacher was really pleased to be teaching something other than “ein Bier, bitte.” But after a while she realised the shoddy state of my grammar mixed in with a large dose of kurpfaelzisch dialect and slang. Coming from Hannover, she commented, “Sie sprechen Deutsch wie ein besoffener Bauer” Which translates to you speak German like a drunk farmer. I was insulted, but then when I told my German mates about it, they felt it was high praise, as that was exactly how they had taught me the language.

That is not to say that Pfaelzisch can’t be literary. Here is a bit of Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo kummt in de Gade)

Romeo: Was soll ich narre mache?

(Julia guckt owe aus’m Fenschter raus)

Romeo: Ach Gott er Leit, was guckt dann do owe durch’s Fenschter? Des esch jo die Julia. Kumm emol raus mei Sießi ! Sie esches, mei Schneck, mei Liebschti ! O wie se die Hand uff de Backe lecht ! Wär isch doch de Handschuh uff dere Hand und deed den sieße Backe kisse.
Julia: Jesses er Leit, was babbelscht dann so gschwolle do rum ?
Romeo: Ach Gott, her der des mol a, die redd jo! Hob, red nochmol, sach noch was. Dei Stimm esch jo so schäh !

I suppose that is the long tail of Shakespeare.

There is some concern in Germany and lots in France about the growing dominance of English, and how it encroaches and consumes. My German readers my find this clip interesting.

Here is the French view on this issue,  in English?

Alphabet soup describes the jargon that permeates the software industry well. As an industry we bombard our customers with three letter acronyms. SAP is as guilty as anyone in this regard. We cloak solutions in a fog of TLAs.  Lawyers and economists use latin phrases like volenti non injura,consensus facit legem, ceteris paribus, de minimis non curat lex and so on. The terms are useful to those in the know, but they create a barrier to the rest of us. 

Adding the 2.0 suffix merely makes it worse. Also, the software industry forces english acronyms into foreign languages. ROI, SOA,ERP, and have now penetrated the fabric of German and French. If you think it is tough following the alphabet soup in your own language, spare a thought for those that are doing it in a second or third language.

SAP’s headoffice is near Mannheim, a zone of serious dialect. Historically it is rich in innovation, the first car was built nearby.  Baden-Württenberg has made a very successful advertising campaign, it translates to “we can do everything except high-German.” There have been a number of TV ads, bumper stickers and so on.  Some of the ads are rather funny. 

This clip was put together by an unknown, but really witty colleague. It is about 4 years old, but still relevant. It has been mailed around SAP internally and externally many times, but recently it has found its way onto-into youtube.  I wasn’t sure whether to post it or not, but anyway, here it is.  We can laugh at ourselves here in enterpriseyland. I really enjoyed the recent IBM mainframe ads, also to be found on youtube, tip James  VW has had a lot of fun with parody in with the launch of the new GTI. 

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Workday press coverage, mangled statistics and SaaS love

Workday is launching on 6th November (that is the same day I was launched 37 years ago)  Auspicious choice indeed. I’m curious about Workday. They have a strong team of HR tech folks, and the SaaS play is certainly trendy. 

I saw  press coverage here in computing UK 

Firstly the author has totally mangled the market statistics for the HR market.

AMR Research data on growth in the online applications sector suggests that HR is currently a slower-growth area than some others. It rose 13 percent between 2004 and 2005, compared to 300 percent for ERP generally, 60 percent for CRM and 125 percent for sourcing/procurement, the analyst said.

Gosh. I read lots of reports from AMR, but that one passed me by. I was bonused last year on ERP revenue, so either the report is wrong, or I got shafted.

Secondly, I was struck by the amount of friendly SaaS love. Salesforce and Netsuite all welcoming Workday to the party. I’m not sure the rest of the nascent HR SaaS crowd will be so welcoming.   

Thirdly, the marketing to date is very traditional, press releases, static website….. No blog that I can find, no conversation,  Where is the thingamy type marketing?  Or the simplyhired youtube?

It is early days yet,  and marketing innovation doesn’t correlate with application innovation, but I would have expected something cool by now.  I’d read Dave Duffield’s blog, and so would most of the the HR technology world.

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