That video…the force is with us….

There have been a couple of links and comments from blogs (Jeff Nolan, Zoliblog and Paralax…) to the video made by development folks here in Walldorf. I'm not sure that they meant it to be seen by over a 1000 people on youtube (when I last looked), but good for them. I think it will get more hits than most brochures on the website. It makes a good point too. ABAP isnt dead. My views-questions? 1.I'm tired of the view that Germans don't have a sense of humour, this helps prove that cliche wrong. 2. It isn't "one voice" (SAP speak for "on brand") These new forms of informal marketing will continue to challenge the traditional press release and corporate whitepaper and website stuff. How will big corporate marketing departments like SAP's react? Will they try to squash it, encourage it, ignore it or over do it ? 3.Howcome developers of all nationalities dig star wars? 4. Youtube is cool.

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The cardboard spaceship and thingamy

At the risk of doing one of those I found this on fred's blog which linked to mary's blog which linked to john's blog which linked to the guy from Footloose….

By a rather long and winding road I discovered Hamish's blog where, amongst other things he discusses Thingamy. (Hamish calls himself a geek, but he has been known to shop extensively on Jermyn Street in his SAP UK Eagle house days which does dent his geekdom claim somewhat). His blog is a fine read.

I'm intrigued by thingamy. Without having seen it I'll dangerously and arrogantly agree with Hamish that it isn't an SAP killer.  Sig seems to agree too. That doesn't mean there isn't a market for what he wants to do. 

It does raise an interesting point though. What should a software start up in the enterprise space be aiming at doing?  I'm not convinced that building most apps, especially ERP ones, from scratch today makes sense, no matter how profoundly brilliant the tool is or may be. To test this model I'd suggest applying the rumplestiltskin test. Lock up the Thingamy or any other tool team and only let them out when they have a compliant Polish payroll, or a room full of gold silk. (Polish payroll would probably take longer) That sounds trite but most of what ERP applications do is boring, complex stuff. Companies do this stuff, not because they want to, but because a lawmaker, auditor, union or some regulatory authority demands it. 

I think we will see a lot more interesting innovation on top of ERP platforms. I think much of  it will be with SAP tools, such as visual composer, but the market will decide. Anyway Netweaver is all about ending the  "But it's a bit like in school – the big boys do not want to be friends with the little boys even if the little boys wants to be their friend." mentality that Sig mentions, and it seems to be working. I think the hot space will be in mixing existing applications with new ones, whats called composite apps at SAP. This business process innovation is what keeps SAP on its toes, and it is where the main R&D spend is going. SAP's CEO makes some good points here.

I'd look at Virsa (I've blogged about them before) and Redwood as examples of "little boys" that SAP is friends with. This ecosystem thingy is really important to SAP, so companies that ride that wave may not end up being so little. (update: SAP acquired Virsa yesterday)

Sig has a passion and vision for what he wants to do. I wish him luck. I'd love to have a bike ride sometime somewhere hilly and warm, as long as he has lots of patience.

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Blawgs (lawyers and blogs)

I'll post the comment here that I sent to roughtype. 

Last week some of the heavyweights of the blogsphere (Carr, Israel, Scobe, Vogels and so on) debated the merits of the corporate blog, and whether lawyers should be involved or not.

I'd like to take issue with Israel's comments:  "For [the] record, your advice on calling in the lawyers is lame and a sure-fire to make the blogs as lame as your idea." 

I think he is talking to the wrong lawyers.

The blogsphere is now home to a thriving community of lawyers and people interested in law that make use of blogs  for the same reasons that non-lawyers do. there is a term to describe these law blogs. (Blawg) there is even a tee-shirt, presumably not for wear in court.

Innovative lawyers use podcasts and blogs to communicate with their clients and prospects. Some examples, and there are many more. See Human Law for podcast use. nakedlaw provides commentary on new cases and trends.  IPKat is an excellent source for patent, copyright and other IP issues and commentary. Law professor commentary is not currently precedent, but useful reading nevertheless. Blogs are really helping to inform about the law, especially information technology related law.  Susskind's talk here on the future of law is well worth a listen.

Contrary to common wisdom, some lawyers are very humourous. Geeklawyer is one of the funniest blogs I've come across. I'll try and call him if I ever get into trouble for my blog. Geeklawyer is the Rumpole of the the web.

Despite the dangers of "corporate" blogging, it seems that savvy lawyers themselves see these risks as acceptable. The blog is changing the way law is marketed, and the way legal information is spread.  Working with a lawyer that understands the risks of  the blog, while grasping its business benefits is surely the sensible way forward.

Lawyer bashing is an easy sport. Like it or not, the law permeates much of what we do, corporate or otherwise.

Employees are going to blog anyway, so understanding what they are upto and why is basic risk management and common sense.  As Lydon Johnson commented about Edgar Hoover,

"It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in."

Imagine his blog.

Sandboxes….and the law continued

This is on from the post where I raised the data protection law issues of  "we’ve created a simple, one-click process for cloning your entire Salesforce deployment an exact replica that includes all customizations and data." Sfdc offering. (see the other post for all the details)

This was picked up by Niel  last night. But as I was wading through some stuff on messrs Sarbanes and Oxley,and I thought "hang on" this may be more than just a "EU privacy thing"

Almost everything gets linked to SOX today so I may stretching this stretching this a bit (repeat: I'm not a lawyer), but surely there is a SOX management of internal controls issue here too. All sorts of confidential information such as pipeline would reside in the "exact data" you would be extracting. Even some of the configuration would be confidental in nature. I suspect most auditors would be very uncomfortable with this sort of "exact data" residing in a sandbox, with all sorts of IT bods accessing it. The issue becomes worse if you are then using this "exact data" to test an interface to an appexchange application. Who knows where it may end up being passed to….

If I look to the Numerix comments on  Niel, your company notes some sensible best practice.

Limit Real Data Exposure. Information used in testing efforts can be exposed to numerous groups: internal testing teams, outsourced testers and consultants. In addition, information such as payroll checks and invoices, are likely to be printed as part of the testing process. Making information available to this growing number of teams increases the likelihood of falling out of compliance with legislation, including HIPPA and the Data Protection Act (UK). So, limit access to real data and scramble data early in the testing cycle.

As part of such an offering, SaaS, or otherwise, I'd expect to see a strong scrambling feature and clear guidelines on handling test data. Perhaps these are part of the offering? If they are, surely they should be positioned in the marketing?
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Viral marketing and ERP of the Century

There is a friend of mine, John Pollard lives in Madison Wisconsin. (Yes, I have American friends, and Madison is a cool spot). He is a musician (drummer)  and really creative guy. He used to work at SAP, but now works in advertising. He wrote a rap song last year relating to ERP and SAP, (called ERP of the century) and the thing was downloaded over 20,000 times.  Most of SAP has heard it, but in case you haven't, the lyrics are really funny. You may want to check it out at Morsekode.  There is another song there too, using the same tune. If someone has some budget, he can write another tune, promise.

I'm not in marketing, but I think we need more of this sort of thing. We need more humour in our lives.

Speaking of friends, the ex-md of SAP South Africa is currently racing across Africa. From Cairo to Capetown!!!! over 12000kms  have a look at  I reckon he must be the world's fittest manager.  He is in second place at the moment, but knowing George I wouldnt be suprised if he crosses the line first. 

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