The Village View

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

silicon alley 2.0 - return of the buble?

During the week my main source of general news is reading AM New York on the train in the morning. Today's cover story was " From Bust to Boom."

Pretty light article with few data points, but, of course, the requisite use of "2.0." Did think it was interesting that the main example given in the story is of a web design firm, but then they quote the head of the NY Software Industry Association. Seems a bit like two different things.

Although it's likely the article was inspired by a conference yesterday, when the free newspaper that I get handed before stepping onto the subway has a cover story about the tech sector being back, I'm inclined to be bearish.

Closet I'll ever come to being a gamer

I have very little interest in gaming. The last gaming "console" I used regularly was the Atari. But my colleague Craig Cmehil, who himself is always doing cool stuff with SAP (look Mom, it brews coffee!) pointed me to this.

Seems a couple of guys at an SAP customer rigged up the remote of a Wii to a Ruby on Rails app that was connected to SAP BW. Check out their filmed demo on the link above.

Now, you may say, why do I need this? Fair point, but what I think it shows a couple of interesting points:
- There is a community around SAP (SAP Developer Network) and they are doing innovative, non-traditional things (again you can argue about usefulness of this particular item, but it does speak to innovation). There are 700k registered members of SDN. And for those of you interested in the topic of accessing the code, keep in mind, SAP customers have access to SAP source code.
- This wouldn't have been possible without SAP's efforts around working with and supporting newer technologies such as scripting languages. SAP could still do much more to publicize how much work has been done around using and integrating new technologies. Currently, it seems its competitors are doing a better job of painting it as "closed" and themselves as "open." The reality is somewhat different.

Monday, February 26, 2007

My New Job

Over the next month I'll be transitioning from my current strategy role to a business development role in our Governance, Risk and Compliance group. For those of you with some understanding of SAP's structure, I'll be in the SAP Americas unit. The GRC group was formed after the acquisition last year of Virsa. Since then additional product areas have come under the GRC umbrella, including global trades services, environment, health & safety and emissions management. I'll have responsibility initially for two product areas: SAP GRC Access Control and SAP GRC Process Control.

Business development can mean many things. In this case, it means I'll work to maximize revenue for my product line by providing the sales force, marketing, partners et al with product and domain expertise, strategies and best practices. On a more day-to day-level that means things like: deal support, go-to-market strategy, field enablement (education of sales and pre-sales) and interfacing with the development organization. It will also mean a high level of contact with the sales organization and, something I'm really looking forward to, getting in front of customers. In fact, I had my first customer visit today.

What does this mean for my blog? Well hopefully nothing drastic. I would imagine that over the next month or so I'll be posting a bit less, as I will be doing two jobs simultaneously. Ongoing I would imagine that my blog will delve into the areas of Sarbanes-Oxley, compliance, and risk management more. In addition, I hope to have more insights into the sales process of a large enterprise software organizations and a better feel for how customers use SAP products. I hope that this will be of interest to you.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

SAP Acquires Pilot Software

SAP announced the acquisition of business performance management firm Pilot Software. James Governor of RedMonk does a pretty good write up. It's worth a read.

Flagship product PilotWorks competes with the likes of Cognos and Business Objects at the dashboard end of the analytics stack, where key performance indicators are at stake. The acquisition will help SAP to compete more effectively against these players, and their partners, notably IBM, and competitors, Microsoft and Oracle.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Netsuite & eBay team up

This ties into one of my 2007 predictions: Google moves into Enterprise Apps business. How? I posited that a Google On Demand CRM solution could be useful to heavy users of Google Base and might be a good avenue for Google to venture into the apps business. I don't know how many "power sellers" Google Base has, but I have to think eBay Power Sellers far outnumber them. Probably good news for NetSuite as they approach their likely IPO.

both companies have created programs and initiatives to promote and market this integrated solution to eBay’s high-volume sellers called "Power Sellers." This partnership marks the first and only on-demand solution to offer eBay auction management embedded as a sales channel along with powerful capabilities to manage all business operations such as inventory, warehouse management, accounting, direct sales, telesales, keyword marketing, e-mail marketing and site hosting.

The other interesting aspect of this deal is that the pricing is volume-based.
NetSuite will charge a fee based on the number of transactions-up to 100 transactions will cost $99, or .99 cents per transaction. - ComputerWorld

Come one, come all - Teqlo open beta

I blogged recently about a demonstration I got of Teqlo (my old -as in former, not an age related comment - boss Jeff Nolan's company). Well Teqlo was going to do a private beta, but decided to open the flood gates to the public. So, if you're interested in building your own mashups or just understanding what the whole thing is about, open an account and play around. Jeff and Rod are looking for feedback and are more than willing to answer questions that may arise.

Jeff asked me to point out a a couple of things to keep in mind when beta-ing the product:
  • This is a preview of the technology, it doesn't go so far as to define a business
  • Much more will be released in the coming weeks
  • The core data routing technology is the "secret sauce" and what enables users to build things without knowing anything about programming
  • Teqlo needs widgets, if you are a widget developer they want to talk with you

Thursday, February 15, 2007

SAP CEO to stay through mid 2009

There had been much speculation about Kagermann staying or going. Today SAP made it official.

SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) announced that its supervisory board has voted in a meeting today to extend Henning Kagermann’s tenure as chief executive officer of SAP AG through May 31, 2009, the month of the company’s AGM in 2009. Kagermann has agreed to the extension.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Craig Cmehil: series on SAP NetWeaver & Office 2.0

Craig Cmehil (shh MAY hill - I checked with him b/c there are about 5 different pronunciations floating about SAP at any time) is starting a series on connecting SAP NetWeaver to Office 2.o applications. It should be noted that this is not an official SAP thing, this is Craig doing cool stuff on his own.
I'm glad he's putting it in a blog so I can read, and re-read it, because my NetWeaver technical knowledge ain't what is should be. Craig has shown/explained some stuff in the past and I got the general concept, but was too ashamed to expose my ignorance, so I nodded a lot.
The first in the series talks about how Craig is getting NetWeaver to place nice with Zoho. (some of the posting is on the SAP Developer Network which requires registration. But it's free and takes a couple of secs, so no big deal. Besides there are like 1.5 billion people on that network; ok but there really are 700k registered users. Heckuva community).

Free Condoms on the Subway? And Who Says New Yorkers Aren’t Friendly?

This is from a NY Times blog. (At least they have blogs, because the Times definitely does not get it with all the subscriber-only content. I can't imagine that they are making more $$ on the subs then they lost on the ad revenue from fewer page views. But I digress...). It's a shame that they are having their promotion handing out "samples" today given the Nor'easter that is blowing through today.

The new condoms, which mimic the subway’s colorful labeling system, are designed to help in survey recall — and by extension, in data gathering after-the-fact. From The A.P.:

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden [said] that the distinctive wrapper will provide the opportunity to include questions about the condom on the city’s annual health survey.

Monday, February 12, 2007

ALERT: Profane message stopped

I got this when trying to send an email to a good friend of mine at her work email. The funny thing is, is that the profane word (sh*t) was in her original email to me (which got through) and therefore, was included when I hit reply. So, the bank's policy deems it unacceptable to receive profane words, but not send them. Pretty funny.

The IT department has automatically stopped an email sent by you to because it contained profanity. The use of profane language contravenes the company’s email Acceptable Usage Policy.

Teqlo demo

Jeff Nolan, CEO of Teqlo, gave some of the Enterprise Irregulars a demo today. Teqlo is described as an AppExchange for the web or a Mashup platform. It's focused on business users who want more control over the applications and data they use. Think of "user" here as an Excel power user, or in terms of 3rd party SMB ISVs. In other words, this is not a product aimed at the IT department or the business application developer, but rather the person who will actually be using the end result.
In the demo, Jeff showed us how a user can use the Teqlo platform to construct applications that pull data from 3rd party services. Sure you can do eBay and Google Maps (the pre-requisities for any self respecting mash up company) but also from LinkedIn and partners xIgnite and @Road. For xIgnite, Teqlo has 3 widgets or Teqlets including one that will allow you to do a CUSIP look up.
Jason Corsello asked a question about if Jeff wanted to develop niche-y vertical apps or solutions. Jeff seemed open to the possibility, but reminded us during the demo that Teqlo is still a small company (10 employees) and that "we are on step 5 of 47 steps." While I thought Jason's question was interesting, I had been thinking of this from the point of view of integrating very horizontal services that many SMBs would be interested in. For example, the ability to pull information from an accounting system like Peachtree or QuickBooks and integrate it with information from an excel spreadsheet. (I think Dennis was thinking similiarly because he also asked about SMB apps).
All in all, a pretty impressive demo for what I think is going to be an impressive company. Beta accounts are coming soon and I'm on the list.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Oracle continues with merger prowl

Why this qualifies as news is beyond me....

Oracle is not done with its acquisition spree, especially in niche IT segments across different industries, says company president Charles Phillips.
...Phillips said Oracle's acquisition strategy is still in its early days. "There are many areas in the industry where there are very complicated domain experts in different industries that are not part of a larger software company."

Of course, Oracle is going to continue acquiring (here's a list of acquisitions to date). In the Industry-focused event Oracle had a couple of weeks ago, Phillips showed by industry Oracle's product functionality and said basically wherever they didn't have functionality is where you could expect them to make acquisitions. So if you have a small software company that has functionality in one of the following areas, you might want to give Chuck a call.

Utilities SCADA



Energy Trading & Risk Mgt

Fin Serv Customer Channels -Cards

Customer Channels - Kiosk

Customer Channels - POS

Customer Channels - ATM

Customer Channels - Voice

Customer Channels - Wireless

Customer Channels - Smt/Billing

Customer Channels - Teller

Credit Analytics

Fund Management

Mortgage Operations

POS/Debit & Credit Card Ops

Trading/Investment Banking

Electronic Payments

Tax - Assessment

Comms Revenue Assurance

Fraud Management


Space optimization

Task Management

In addition to filling in industry functionality, Oracle needs to acquire application revenue to continue showing the (non-organic) growth rates that they've been touting. If memory and math serve me, Siebel should be mostly anniversarying this quarter (Oracle Q3 '07 ends Feb 28) and completely by next quarter. I'd reckon Oracle would be looking to pick up about a couple of hundred million in annual application revenue to avoid disappointing the market again. So who's in that area? Manhattan Associates, Ariba; I can think of a couple of others.

Last point is not about acquisitions, but rather what is said about Oracle's competition with Microsoft:

Phillips conceded that Oracle was worried about competition from Microsoft five years ago, but said the situation today has changed. "I think they've got a little defocused in areas that we are in," he said. "We're probably most thankful to Google which has distracted Microsoft."

"Microsoft is now more worried about search, Xboxes, games and other things," he added. "They don't come to the table in the enterprise space like they used to. I don't think they are really that relevant to large companies making enterprise decisions."

I would have imagined that Microsoft might beginning to compete well in the space that JD Edwards plays in. Also, as Dynamics CRM adds something like 50K users a quarter that the Siebel, and Siebel On Demand, folks might be getting a little nervous. And, Microsoft SQL Server "not relevant" in the database market? My sense is that both in capability and in messaging Microsoft applications and database have been moving up market and increasingly playing in Oracle's space. Not to mention if, or maybe when, Oracle gets around to acquiring Larry's On Demand SME play, Microsoft would have to figure into any competitive analysis. For Chuck's sake, I hope that's just messaging and that he's got several smart folks internally keeping an idea on Microsoft.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Charity Super Bowl wiki

Ok, so it's a wiki, it's football and it's for charity. Can you really get much better than that? I mean throw in some apple pie and run up the flag.
Charlie O'Donnell who organized the NextNY group started this wiki as a fun way to raise some money for charity. There are still some open spaces , so go ahead and sign up. I would particularly encourage you to sign up if you are not an American and understand absolutely nothing about football; I kid you not, you are exactly the kind of person who ends up winning things like this. Football experts like Jason Wood, who probably built a model before he picked his box, don't stand a chance against you.
In case you're wondering, I'm embracing my inner tree-hugger and am playing for The Nature Conservancy.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

SAP works to improve the Total Customer Experience

One of my bosses at SAP, Steve Mann, is doing a lot of the work around improving the customer experience (both around buying and owning). If you're interested in this field, I'd recommend subscribing to his feed.

Today, he wrote about some recent "ethnographic" interviews his group has done. A couple of the feedback items stuck out:
  • Get to the point - give me the info I need right away and in a no-BS fashion
    • IMO, the current iterration of the website trails both Oracle and websites in terms of ease of use. SFdC's especially is really easy to use and to find information on. The SAP Developer Network website is a great example of a SAP website that is easy to navigate (not to mention the content is fantastic).
  • Overall, give us a buyer's view not a technologist views of the world
    • As all technology companies are wont to do, SAP falls into this trap at times (so do our competitors). It's fundamental that software firms remember that software is a tool, a means to an end. Especially as you move down market (to SMEs) the interest is more in can you solve my problem and less on exactly how you are going to.
I'm glad that SAP in investing resources and good people in addressing the customer experience. By the way, did you have to look up ethnographic? I did.