The Village View

Friday, March 31, 2006

Democracy a la deutsche labor

In a vote this month, 91 percent rejected a proposal to set up a council.

"I thought, in a democracy, when you have a vote of 91 percent to 9 percent, the 9 percent would accept that," the chief executive of SAP, Henning Kagermann, said Tuesday.

However, three employees who supported a works council filed a petition with a German labor court. Because Germany guarantees workers the right to organize, SAP concluded that it had no legal ground to block a council.

I don't purport to understand German labor laws, but I do understand basic math. 9 out of 10 employees don't want it, but hey, we're gonna get one anyway. Willkommen in Deutschland.

I think this has a lot less to do with protecting the German worker and a lot more to do with protecting IG Metall. The union lost over 100,000 members from 2003 to 2004. SAP has 10,000 employees in Germany; maybe they're hoping they can pick a few up new members. Well, they've got 3, so that's a start.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

NetSuite gets sweet on idea of going public

Founded in 1998 by Oracle's Larry Ellison (who still owns 60 percent of the company) and NetSuite's Chief Technology Officer Evan Goldberg

But the exact timing of an IPO will also depend on the opinions of the majority owner, said McGeever: "Larry Ellison doesn't need the money to get rich and retire early."

I've got an idea about Ellison's plans for NetSuite, so i'm not real sure why going public makes sense for him (it may not). My thought is that Oracle will acquire NetSuite some day to compete in the in the SME market. If you look at where Oracle doesn't compte (in the app market) it's at the bottom end; smaller-mid and below. This is the area of the Sage's and Microsoft Dynamics (and to a degree the SAP Business One offering). Oracle's EBS Special Edition could therotically play here, but my understanding is that that offering is more aimed at the middle of the mid-market. I always thought a Oracle NetSuite offering would fit nicely in this space.

Oracle is testing the subscription waters

the company is experimenting with a subscription model in Latin America. "We are running a program in Latin America where we bundle software licenses, support, implementation, apps management and hosting for our E-Business Suite and then charge a monthly fee," said Chris Hummel, vice president of Oracle On Demand. "We continue to evaluate this program and incorporate the learning into our global products and services."

I blogged about the possibility of Oracle going to a subscription model last month. And Larry was at it again, talking about Oracle's "subscription revenue" in the recent earnings announcement. (Of course, what he calls "subscription" in today's revenue stream is what the rest of the industry calls "maintenance.")

It's too early to tell if Oracle will actually change it's licensing & sales model or if its just trying to get a valuation bump by convincing the Street that its maintenance revenue should be valued at a higher multiple.

Friday, March 24, 2006

SAP center eyes US$3b market

SAP AG, Europe's biggest enterprise software vendor, opened a new research center in Shanghai yesterday with plans to triple the number of research employees in China to 1,800 in 2008.

In the past nine years, SAP China's revenue surged 70 percent annually on average...

Oracle also recently announced an increased prescence in China. IDC predicts the Chinese software market will be $6.23 billion in 2009. That should be about 3% of global software expenditures in that year (using global numbers from Ovum). It seems obvious that both SAP and Oracle are betting that that percentage will increase greatly in the next decade.

As for me, I just finished my book on the history of China. Might be time to buy a beginners Mandarin book next. Or maybe I should learn Hindi instead?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Oracle competitor gets funded

This is good news for SAP as Oracle gets a significant part of their revenue from SAP application customers. More non-Oracle database options are a good thing.

EnterpriseDB Corp, the open source database company that is pursuing the Oracle market, has announced that its first reference customer is also investing in the company.

The customer, Sony Online Entertainment Inc, one of the largest multi-player gaming sites on the Internet, chose the Postgres-based open source database to lower its operating costs as the site enters a critical period of growth in membership.

Thanks to Jeff for the tip on this.

Oracle Business Intelligence event in New York

Oracle Business Intelligence and Analytics briefing New York, March 22, 2006

I attended some presentations of this event today. Please find my notes attached. Feel free to leave comments with any questions you may have. Also, I understand that a webcast will be available on the Oracle website.

What technologies will be the centerpiece of Oracle Fusion Analytics? Is it Siebel Analytics? What about PeopleSoft EPM?

- Oracle Business Intelligence Suite includes
- Siebel Business Analytics
- Oracle DB (they hit the point repeatedly throughout the presentations that there is BI functionality built into the db)
- Fusion Middleware
- Enterprisewide Analytic Applications
- 3 Products
- Oracle Business Intelligence SE1
- aimed at mid-market, "going after Microsoft"
- $25k "for everything"
- 2 processors allowed
- SE1 db
- Oracle Business Intelligence SE
- For largely Oracle db environments
- Discoverer
- Discoverer OLAP
- Discoverer Plus
- Discoverer View
- Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (EE)
- For hetergeneous environments
- Analytic server
- My sense is that this is primarily the Siebel product
- 25% of Siebel revenue was coming from their BI products and this was growing (hedge fund guy next to me that follows Oracle seemed to think it was even more then this)
- Phillips - BI always part of our platform, Siebel will allow us to accelerate this
- Unclear what the role of Peoplesoft EPM is. Was mentioned, but not to a great degree or in much detail

What will happen to all of Oracle’s other BI products (aka Discoverer, Daily Business Intelligence)?

- Discoverer looks like it's being marketed as BI SE
- Unclear about role of Daily BI

Who will lead the Business Intelligence Business Unit?
- Phillips indicated it would be Thomas Kurian

Other notes:

- Enterprise BI @ Cisco Systems
- 8000 users going to 20,000
- Sales/Marketing, HR, top 500 Execs
- Understand this is the Siebel product
- Go to Market
- Specialist BI sales force
- Specialist BI consultants
- Focused partner + channel development
- Protect, Extend, Evolve
- Protect - Oracle will offer Lifetime support on all its BI products. "not like some other vendors"
- Extend
- New capabilities
- Analytic applications extend value for Oracle EBS, Peoplesoft, Siebel and SAP customers
- Evolve
- Fusion Apps

Henry Morris
- Presentation based on his 11/05 study entitled "Oracle + Peoplesoft + Siebel: What does the combination mean for BI, Analytics and Performance management?"
- Oracle should leverage the Siebel acquisition to extend functionality
- Important to maintan investment in Performance management in Peoplesoft

Thomas Kurian
- Product Strategy
- Integrated BI Tools
- Best of Breed, next generation BI infrastructure
- Integrated BI database
- BI functions integrated in database
- Integrated Analytic Applications
-> BI = applications + leveraging database
- BI built on common platform
- common metadata, UI, security model
- unified notion of information against what you perform calculations
- Integrated tools & technology

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

There you go again

"The applications business grew 77%. But a lot of that growth came from purchased companies. The year-earlier period included only two months of PeopleSoft and no Siebel or Retek. And the applications business is even less impressive when compared with the comparable period in 2004, when all the companies were operating independently. Then, the companies including Oracle notched $297 million in application sales, according to research by Pat Walravens of JMP Securities. Oracle's third-quarter application revenue of $269 million doesn't look quite so hot, some argue."

As I was listening to Larry, Safra and Charles yesterday on Oracle's earnings call, Ronald Reagan's words to Jimmy Carter in 1980 kept ringing in my ears. "There you go again"

Comparing revenue numbers from a year ago to current ones that don't include the same products. Oracle did the same thing last quarter and folks are starting to catch on.

"Oracle (ORCL ) is developing something of a pattern. The big U.S. software maker reports earnings that on the surface look impressive. But when analysts and investors get a closer look, they're less than enthused. That was the case on Mar. 20, when Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison unveiled fiscal third-quarter results. "

“We reported record revenues..." Oh, yeah, let's take a look at your database numbers. If I'm not mistaken database revenue is just over 80% of total Oracle revenue.

" excuse for what's ailing the database business. For a third straight quarter, database revenue disappointed, climbing only 4%. Ellison said again on the conference call that database revenues will grow in low double digits for the next few years. "

There you go again.

Friday, March 17, 2006

How Microsoft could disrupt Google search

Was reading through Google's 10k this afternoon when I came across the paragraph below. Don't know why I hadn't really thought of this before. Imagine if Microsoft made is harder to access any data in an Office format.

Would it harm Microsoft (push folks more towards OpenOffice, Adobe or even Writely) or Google (push folks to MSN for searching) more?

Proprietary document formats may limit the effectiveness of our search technology by preventing our technology from accessing the content of documents in such formats which could limit the effectiveness of our products and services.

A large amount of information on the Internet is provided in proprietary document formats such as Microsoft Word. The providers of the software application used to create these documents could engineer the document format to prevent or interfere with our ability to access the document contents with our search technology. This would mean that the document contents would not be included in our search results even if the contents were directly relevant to a search. These types of activities could assist our competitors or diminish the value of our search results. The software providers may also seek to require us to pay them royalties in exchange for giving us the ability to search documents in their format. If the software provider also competes with us in the search business, they may give their search technology a preferential ability to search documents in their proprietary format. Any of these results could harm our brand and our operating results.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Parasitic scrapbooking

I've been reading a PR blog ever since I went to a recent alumni event. I'm mostly interested in how blogs (and social media in general) can be implemented into the larger PR strategy of an enterprise. Well today, I learned I'm wasting my time on this whole blogging thing; I could just as well be out there playing paintball (which sounds like a heck of a lot more fun).

Blogging, in and of itself, is of no special media or cultural significance. Most bloggers are, in effect, hobbyists – and what they do is more akin to the hugely popular hobby of scrapbooking than it is to journalism or criticism. To give an analogy, the mere fact that a large number of people wargame, paintball or engage in military re-enactments is of no significance to the Pentagon or defense policy. I think the msm-execs who are rushing to embrace the blogosphere are blinded by technology into confusing what is culturally interesting with what is culturally significant.

also, it seems like we're bloodsuckers:

Overwhelmingly, the influence is one way – bloggers are media parasites. Very few bring something original to the fray, largely because the nature of the medium is about commenting on rather than creating something.

Both of these are from Trevor Butterworth in an interview on The Flack BLOG!

Not sure why commenting on a news story or blog post is getting a bad rap. Surely hearing someone else's view on a story enhances my understanding of it or makes me question my own views. Often a post's comments will raise important issues that the author of the original piece may have neglected. Importantly, comments make the interaction bi-directional; the reader is not an inactive recipient of information, but rather participating in a discussion. Perhaps that causes some in mainstream media to feel they are losing their monopoly on the truth. Maybe that's the reason for the name calling.

Driver's license provides access to state library holdings

Finally a reason for New Yorkers to get a driver's license.

New Yorkers will now be able to use their driver's licenses to gain free access from their home to thousands of subscription-charging newspapers, magazines, extensive reference works and cutting-edge research.

The State Library's New York Online Virtual Electronic Library _ also known as NOVEL _ provides access to the largest state library system in the nation.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

IBM's AppExchange

IBM is launching its SOA Business Central as a federated catalog of IBM and SOA software services developed by business partners.

SOA Business Central will include the upcoming WebSphere Registry and Repository for SOA Governance software product. Customers will be able to search, download and install services from the catalog, which will include utilities for the publication, subscription, management and policy enforcement of SOA services and assets.

Sounds similar to's AppExchange. However, perhaps instead of full-blown applications created by partners based on exposed SFdC services, these are the services themselves being offered by IBM and partners. At any rate, seems like a great idea: IBM without much of its own app layer provides access to services and potentially creates some lock-in for WebSphere.

here's IBM's own press release

Monday, March 13, 2006

The metrics of influence--the mania for measuring the blogosphere

I understand the point that Tom Foremski makes about the importance of qualitative analysis of the influence of blogs. He's absolutely right that you need to be involved in the community to get a sense for how effective your blogging is. However, I think he's too quick to dimiss the need for quanitative analytics for two reasons:

1) You can't manage what you can't measure. If you solely use qualitative, subjective measurements you're bound to have a biased, inaccurate perception of what your measuring.

2) Corporate communications groups will be more likely to support efforts to reach out to the blogosphere if they can show their bosses what impact they're having. (Ditto for those of us outside of the Comms group pushing the use of blogs). You gotta show impact and within corporations that means numbers. Stating that we're reaching "important" blogger A, while interesting, is not entirely persuasive as we attempt to convince our firms to dedicate time and resources to influencing the blogosphere.

Finding the right metrics to measure a blog's value as an influencer will never be as simple as measuring numbers of links, comments, trackbacks, Alexa rank, Technorati rank, etc. Because you have to understand the context of each blog and how it fits into its online communities. And you can only do that by being involved in those communities, online and offline.

ZDNet article on my group

This is a 3 part article based on an interview with my boss. It talks a bit about what we in the Apollo Strategy group are doing to improve the manner in which SAP competes with Oracle.

part 1
part 2
part 3

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Oracle targets China's second tier

Small- and medium-sized enterprises - those with annul revenues less than US$500 million - are the focus of Oracle's five-year plan called "Golden China," Budge said. The workforce at these companies accounts for 75 percent of the nation's total, and SMEs contribute more than 50 percent of China's gross domestic product

Friday, March 03, 2006

My reading list

Just finished reading The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White which my boss sent me. (He also graciously sent me RFID and Beyond; haven't quite gotten to that one yet). In addition to a blow-by-blow of what happened with the company and its CEO, the book is an excellent mini-history of the database industry and wars. Also, gives a bit of a primer on databases themselves. One observation: interesting to see how Oracle and Ellision used similar competitive tactics (advertising etc) back then as we're seeing them use nowadays.

Am trying to finish China: Its History and Culture I know what you're thinking: well, of course it's taking you forever, there's 3000+ years of history. True, but I got the 300 page, "hit me with the highlights" version.

Looking forward to starting my new gift from our friends at AppExchange for Dummies. They sent it to me as a pdf.

Of course, I'm still working my way through SAP NetWeaver for Dummies.

I always welcome reading suggestions.

Solving for the Open Source Variable

As you can imagine, given recent Oracle moves, Open Source has been on our minds. My colleague, Rob Halsey, has an interesting post on his blog.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tufts Breakfast Speaker Series - Changing tides of PR

I went to an alumni event (early) yesterday morning: PR veteran Peter Himler speaking on changes in PR. Went for two reasons: (1) keep active in my alumni community and (2) given the work my group at SAP is doing in social media wanted to get a PR professional’s insights.

As I thought it would largely deal with "regular" PR issues, my intention was to ask a couple questions on social media in hopes of spending a few minutes on the subject. It turns out, we spent most of the time speaking about blogging, search and the like. The fact that an old school PR guy would spend so much time on this subject re-enforces to me that we are right to be pushing use of social media within SAP.

Peter re-enforced the idea that people get their news differently now. Instead of sending hundreds of press releases out by email or regular mail, why not let those who are interested in your company subscribe to an RSS feed.

I asked a question about what metrics are applicable to guage how effective a company is in managing its image/message in the blogosphere. Peter mentioned Intelliseek rankings, but pointed out that many metrics are probably anectodal. Probably, but in order to continue to push the idea of blogging through(or past) our media relations folks, we're going to have to show that we're being effective in conveying "our" message. How to measure this effectiveness is still not as clear as I'd like. I’m going to ping Peter periodically as he’s likely to figure it out.

Another observation is around the reaction of a representative of the New York Times. She made some insightful comments, but I sensed that she felt there was an inherent danger to so many non-journalists blogging. Her concern was around the factuality and bias of what is being written and that most bloggers were not trained journalists. Maybe. However, an individual blogger has as much right to post on his/her blog as the NYT does to write an article. Just as I (dis)trust the Times, I need to make a judgment about the bias and accuracy of those blogs that I choose to read. I think the watchword here is: Caveat Emptor.