more thoughts on Duet- MBS etc..

Charlie  Jeff and  others have mentioned that Duet has miffed off some of the folks from Microsoft business systems (see here). Any significant alliance is going to upset part of a big business.

Oracle Application presales guys get really upset because more SAP applications run on Oracle databases than do Oracle applications. 

At SAP we have a lot of discussions about how Duet and the Portal work together and overlap. The guys who built the calendar feature in the SAP portal probably don't like Duet either.  I dont think we have all the answers yet.

For me, the interesting thing about Duet is not the product.

Okay, Yes, it does all that bringing SAP apps to the familiar desktop of the user etc, but Outlook has been arounds for aeons. SAP has been doing employee self service since the mid 1990s, we have sold over 13 million ESS users.

What is interesting to me,

1. It is a joint development. SAP developers and Microsoft developers working on the same product, together. In joint teams. SAP's dev lead on this is one of our best.

2. It will be sold and marketed by both companies.

The second point here is going to be key. How will we and Microsoft go to market, how will the Microsoft salesforce line up behind Duet? In the "early" accounts where I have been involved, I've seen strong colaboration between MSFT and SAP teams.

 If I was a top sales guy at MSFT, what would I rather be selling 

yet another post about the world is flat

I have realised that if you have a blog, it is compulsory to write a post about the book "the world is flat."  I read the book on the plane flying to home to South Africa from Germany last month. It was a good read, if a tad repetitive, and occasionally naive, and a lot of it reads like basic common sense.

The flight was made interesting by the guy I sat next to. He is an artist from Mozambique, Mankew Mahumnana, and he had just come from an exhibition in Germany. I have no portuguese, he had little english or german, so we communicated in zulu. I say communicate, because my zulu is very very very  shabby, but somehow we got on well. His art is really cool stuff.


He drew me a picture in the back of my world is flat book, and signed it. I now want to get him to do something for my lounge at home.

The world is flat. I meet an artist from mozambique on a plane and hopefully he will  do something for my lounge in Germany.

supporting innovation with Lego (real Lego not ESA Lego)

While wading and wallowing through the best part of three weeks email, I picked up on an internal announcement about SAP and Lego. My priotisation skills being what they are, I read it and decided to post it so that you could read it too. 

Lego has come along way since I was a boy….funny how now it is used by almost everyone to describe software architectures…I'm not sure Lego deserves this treatment.

Anyway, SAP employees volunteer time to coach kids to build robots, and these kids then enter a competition. The best ones go through to a international competition. The SAP sponsored and supported teams did really well. see link here

FLL: SAP Teams Clean Up!

Six SAP-sponsored FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams qualified for the finals of the international robot competition FLL Challenge 2005 in Atlanta, Georgia and Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

The winners have been chosen, and once again the SAP teams got the edge on the competition. The SAP All Stars from Germany received the coveted Innovative Robot Award, as well as commendation for their professionalism. "The SAP All Stars perform the art of engineering at its highest level. We didn't see the BMW logo on the front of the robot, but we're certain that BMW would have loved the design," an impressed member of the jury said.

The Japanese team SAP Edison, as well as SAP Eleven, gave a convincing performance on account of their exemplary teamwork. They received a commendation for the excellent programming of their robot. The Alliance Award went to SAP Marine against Pollution from Paris. The jury was impressed by the teenagers' effective cooperation with three other teams. Furthermore, the members of the SAP Light Bird team from Japan were notworthy for the exemplary presentation of their ideas and their good cooperation. The Leimbach SAPmarines were also successful in the finals.

The FIRST LEGO League is an international robot competition for children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 16. The goal of the event is to get the "generations of tomorrow" interested in science and technology. SAP employees across the world are encouraged to act as mentors and coaches for the FIRST LEGO League in helping interested children and teenagers in individual project teams. In September 2005, teams started preparing for the competition, with the theme "Ocean Odyssey." Eighty-five teams with a total of more than 170 SAP employees from 19 countries took part in the initiative. A total of about 7,000 FLL teams participated worldwide.

Anything that makes kids take an interest in technology is a good thing.  

Lego is an SAP customer. They threw out Oracle a while ago. thought I ought to mention that in passing….


This is my first day back at work for nearly 3 weeks  (thank you german labour law). more about that in another post once I have been through the email torrent. It was weird not accessing the web or the blogsphere for this time. no doubt there will be much to a catch up on. I will watch the sapphire blogging thingy that Jeff has arranged with interest

Mendocino is now called Duet. (hmmmm).  It is better than, but as my mate  phillip noted it does have more than a tinge of Kenny Rogers to it.

I have presented it to several customers over the past six months. It does hit the right note. (aaaah)

The website though, is great. Check it out  (see if you can see the mac in the demo!) 

Meeting Redmonk.

On Friday after working in London, I met up with James Governor of Redmonk fame at his local wine spot, Bedales. 

The theory was to meet for a glass or two of wine, but the scope of the project soon expanded. Clever concept Bedales, a mix of wine shop and wine bar, great selection and very well run by the lovely Emily. We did that odd english thing of sitting outside because the sun was vaguely shining. The wine helped us keep warm.  Next time I'm in the city, I'll return.

We spent some of the time talking about compliance, web 2.0, SAP, IBM, Oracle and so on, but we spent more time talking about kids, former lives, and the South African software mafia. James has an excellent grasp of the enterprise software space.  SAP should be talking more with Redmonk.

I met James through his blog, and I read his research because it was free and easy to obtain, unlike the traditional analyst stuff.  I will continue to read more because it is good. The Redmonk paper on compliance architecture  remains the best piece I've read on compliance and software. Hopefully after our chat he can update it with the SAP stuff! Building a sustainable architeture for compliance is a key SAP play at the moment, the Virsa acquistion is part of this plan. I think this will be a big part of the sapphire story, so expect to hear a lot more details from Neetin and the compliance team.

I'll write more about compliance after my workshop this week, then I'm off to South Africa to see the family.

So you have a cool Composite app? How do you sell it?

Steve Ballmer from Microsoft recently commented on how complex the enterprise software sale is.

 “The truth is that the way information technology decisions are made in a company is really complicated. You really have four points of view, and we have to work with all of them–end-users, central IT, line-of-business executives, and then the business leaders, who could be the head of sales, finance or operations.”

There is an excellent article here by Dale Vine  of Freeefrom Dynamics (this is where I picked up the quote) on the complex nature of enterprise software sales, and Hamish  has some thoughts too.  SAP has developed a strong sales force over the years, and it plays a part in our success.

I think one of the major challenges that small software innovators face is in building a proper sales process, team, business development, partnerships and so on. This is not easy. A top sales guy can make a huge difference to the success of start up or niche firm, but often they can't attract the calibre of people that they need to manage the complex sale.

As most of my merry band of 3 readers know, SAP is putting a lot of effort into the ISV channel, and we will see lots of applications emerging over the next year, hopefully emulating the success that Virsa has had. (see Joshua Greenbaum's article)

 A friend of mine has recently left SAP to set up a company, ISV-ecoNet,advising and supporting ISV selling into the SAP customer base. He ran the Netweaver sales team at SAP Germany, so he knows his stuff. He will be able to help companies align their sales and marketing strategies with SAP's, build help build the right contacts in SAP's sales team and in the vast German customer base, and close the deals. He aims to build a portfolio of hot niche products that complement SAP, and help the ISVs bring them to market and close deals. I think he is onto a winner. It will help SAP and it will help the ISVs.

As an example, he is working with a electronic signature company, Authentidate  who have built a great solution that integrates into SAP. Electronic signature is particularly hot in Germany at the moment, due to some recent significant legislative changes, and the German cultural fixation with the "stempel".


vaporising middle management….with web 2.0?

I have been interested in history since I before could read. The Weimar republic introduced me to the issue of hyperinflation. The image of wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread is a haunting one.

We have a hyperinflation problem today in the workplace.

When my father was working for a listed company in the early 1980’s, he was the finance manager, that meant he ran the finance department and was on the board of the company. He reported to the general manager. Today things are rather different.  Everyday I meet more and more vice presidents, senior vice presidents, executive vice presidents, directors, CFO, COOs and so on. I think there are more directors and VPs now than not. Titles have lost their meaning.   Recently, when a friend of mine said proudly, “I’ve been made a director”, my father dryly asked, “under the terms of 1985 Companies Act?”

America has one Vice President. So why does a company need thousands of them? I think it is time for a job title revaluation. Which of you Chief senior executive commander vice presidents evangelist strategists is going to be first…?

What does this have to do with web 2.0?  If it lives up to its hype it at the least should improve information flows in organisations.  Nicholas Carr has an interesting post on this. He quotes McAffee:

It has historically been the case that as organizations grow it becomes more and more difficult for people within them to find a particular information resource – a person, a fact, a piece of knowledge or expertise. Enterprise 2.0 technologies, however, can be a force in the opposite direction. They can make large organizations in some ways more searchable, analyzable and navigable than smaller ones, and make it easier for people to find precisely what they’re looking for. The new technologies certainly don’t overcome all the dysfunctions of corporate scale, but they might be able to address some of them.

I will be reading more of this McAffee fellow, sound stuff. He compares Nupedia with Wikipedia. And comments..

technologists have done a brilliant job at three tasks: building platforms to let lots of users express themselves, letting the structure of these platforms emerge over time instead of imposing it up front, and helping users deal with the resulting flood of content.

If web 2.0 does exactly what it says on the tin, it means that layers of excel and powerpoint assembling politcially-aware sycophantic middle-managers (VPs etc) can be vaporised. Knowledge workers (I hate that term) can make stuff, and those that need it can find it. We could have more developers, more support people and more sales people instead. 

I should stop this and go with my wheelbarrow to a meeting.