At SAPPHIRE NOW 2010, SAP's annual marquis customer event, SAP Co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott share insights into how companies strive to align IT strategy with business goals. Three themes: 1) real-time 2) unwired and 3) sustainable.
Real-time. Enterprises need information more quickly; daily, weekly, or monthly updates rarely suffice. At the same time, the amount of data that companies now have available to them is astounding.
Unwired. Firms are increasingly leveraging mobile so that employees, customers, and partners are no longer bound by their IT systems and hampered in decision-making but instead empowered with information and decision tools anywhere. (SAP's acquisition of Sybase adds to their capability in mobile.)
Sustainable. Not just goals towards green and reduction of carbon emissions, companies also want to make sure they get leverage out of their investments; today's technology decisions must make long-term sense on the IT strategy path.
Most organizations who speak with Forrester struggle to balance business goals such as real-time information, mobile access, and sustainability with cost pressures and management of existing IT investments. Firms strive to get the most out of their existing IT investments while balancing investment in newer technologies -- such as analytics, mobile devices, or GRC solutions. Increasingly, IT departments are also facing another challenge -- as businesses can easily go outside of IT to buy and often self-provision new tools to achieve their goals: SaaS and Web 2.0 solutions and mobile devices such as iPads or BlackBerrys.
Is it me or do you feel like everyone is restructuring their IT organization – or at least talking about it? Chatter among CIOs often turns into a debate over the merits of plan-build-run models versus demand/supply models – or any other IT model du jour. So, I was eager to get my hands on the first draft of Marc Cecere’s presentation on “Future BT Organizational Models” that he’ll be delivering at Forrester’s IT Forum in Las Vegas (it’s next week, so I’m up to my elbows in draft presentations – reviewing our CIO analysts’ content, pushing their thinking further, and frankly reveling in all the new research). Here’s a sneak peek:
Monday, May 17: I'm on my way to SAP's SapphireNow to figure out where the world's largest enterprise vendor is taking its customers after buying Sybase. Is SAP's future mobile apps? Newfangled "in-memory" architectures? Cloud-based apps? Or is SAP just grabbing a database to compete with Oracle's?
I know you've got questions too about the future of enterprise applications -- and not just about SAP's direction. I've had many discussions with individual Forrester clients about the future of applications over the years, but never with everyone. Now, OutSystems and I have come up with a new use of social media to open the doors on a worldwide Q&A on the future of applications. Visit What's the Future of Applications? Ask Rymer for details.
We call it "social consulting." Here is how it works:
1. During the next week, visit the "Ask Rymer" site and post your biggest, baddest questions about the future of applications. We've got to account for change agents ranging from the Apple iPad to Smart Computing approaches to cloud computing to Lean Software to understand the future of applications. And we've got to continue our progress toward software that is designed for people and built for continuous change.
Recently, SAP announced a definitive agreement to acquire Sybase for $5.8 billion, at $65 a share, a 44% premium over the share's three-month average price. The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2010. Sybase will operate as a standalone unit under the name “Sybase, a SAP Company,” and be run by Sybase’s management team.
Although execs from SAP and Sybase have stressed mobility, real-time information, in-memory, and analytics benefits that come from this acquisition, the increasing pressure from Oracle cannot be undermined. Oracle’s stronger focus of stack level integration and selling around applications, middleware and database, and recent acquisition of SUN has put pressure on SAP.
SAP-Sybase Deal Offers A Lot Of Synergies
SAP and Sybase offer many benefits ranging from in-memory technologies, databases, analytics, and data integration to mobility and ILM.
On Thursday, May 13, 2010 SAP released its new sustainability report. The report achieved an A+ GRI rating versus the B+ for the previous 2008 one. It uses videos and interactive elements to tell a carefully orchestrated story about SAP’s sustainability performance and provide a baseline for continuous improvement. You will find a few new KPIs, such as business health, culture index and employee satisfaction, and also interesting data about carbon footprint reductions, energy consumption, financial performance, and customer satisfaction.
The SAP report is nicely orchestrated and illustrated. But at least as interesting as the performance data is the message about the company’s strong commitment to the sustainability concept. We defined business sustainability as an underlying approach to business strategy, which optimizes the firm’s business processes and resources. SAP uses the concept as a natural go-to-market strategy and an opportunity to repackage existing and new software offerings into a new and more consistent solutions framework. Known as the SAP Sustainability Library, this framework is an excellent source of insights, best practices, and case studies, including SAP’s own sustainability report.
SAP’s Sustainability Library is a basic tutorial for business process executives seeking to understand and get a grip on sustainability. Even if you are not an SAP customer, you should seize SAP’s breakthrough work as an opportunity to learn and extract new ideas, best practices, and solutions that have the potential to increase the profitability and long-term health of your organization.
A client recently requested a presentation on the future of enterprise architecture. I always enjoy these types of topics, partly because they give me some latitude to think creatively but also because they make me think about things that don’t come up that often in my day-to-day problem set. In the presentation I covered a lot ground about the current state of EA, trends affecting EA’s future, and what EAs should focus on to ensure future success. Business architecture played heavily in my view. But the bottom line can be summarized in five scenarios. Here are the five scenarios I came up with and my take on each.
Scenario 1: EA disappears as a unique function. I think this scenario is inevitable in the long run (but here I am talking about 20 to 30 years) as we move to purchased applications (“there’s an app for that”) and Moore’s law continues to drive down the cost of hardware to the point where performance/capacity/reliability/etc. issues all but disappear. But in the near term (let’s call it 10 years) I think this is a highly unlikely outcome. Because, even though EAs struggle to demonstrate value, the promise of EA value among CIOs remains strong.
A few weeks ago IBM invited me to a day-long conference in San Francisco to preview a new product direction around case management. At first I was a bit hesitant because case management is a bit outside of my normal research agenda, but an old pal in IBM analyst relations convinced me to come over. It was well worth the time. What I saw was much more than I expected as IBM plans to productize a true Information Workplace offering around the pervasive business issue of case management. The concept of an Information Workplace, first presented by Forrester in 2005, is defined as:
A software platform now emerging to support all types of information workers by providing seamless, multimodal, contextual, mobile, right-time access to content, data, voice, processes, expertise, business intelligence, eLearning content, and other information through the use of portals, collaboration tools, business process management, content repositories, content analytics, taxonomies, search, information rights management, and other emerging technologies.
In the fanfare surrounding Microsoft’s unveiling of Office and SharePoint 2010, the co-authoring capability Microsoft is offering in OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel stood out. Put simply, co-authoring is the ability of multiple people to work synchronously on a document. Microsoft has built a number of features to make real-time editing work: notification of who is working on the document and integration with OCS to facilitate conversations; locking of sections to editing; and a “save to share” feature that reconciles changes between editors after they’ve finished, to name a few. However, lost in this talk of real-time document collaboration is a more basic need that I believe Microsoft is actually solving (hinted at in the title of this post).
SAP’s acquisition of Sybase was one of those deals that just makes sense on so many levels for both parties.
SAP is of course one of the dominant brands in enterprise applications, and it also has strong business intelligence (BI), data integration (DI), business process management (BPM), and service-oriented architecture (SOA) offerings. But, until this bombshell announcement, SAP had been lacking some key solution components that it needed to compete more effectively with the other dominant IT brands—specifically, with Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft.
Unlike these rivals, SAP had been lacking an enterprise-grade database management system (DBMS) product of its own (no—the open-source MaxDB doesn’t qualify). Likewise, SAP has had no complex event processing (CEP) tools for truly real-time analytics and transactional computing. Furthermore, SAP had been lacking any in-database analytics features that would allow partners and customers to execute data mining, text analytics, and other advanced analytics features in its data warehousing (DW) platform. Also, though SAP has mobile access middleware in its NetWeaver platform, it has not been able to offer customers a truly world-class mobility-enabling toolset.
Enter Sybase, a venerable and diversified IT brand that brings all of these key capabilities—and then some—to its soon-to-be corporate parent. This is as important an acquisition for SAP as Business Objects was two years ago. It will prove just as pivotal a move for fending off aggressive encroachment by Oracle into SAP core accounts.
Most of us have already heard that Sybase will become part of SAP — or, to be more precise, that SAP and Sybase announced that SAP's subsidiary, SAP America, Inc., signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire Sybase. When this acquisition takes place, there will be various impact areas across SAP and Sybase’s combined portfolio. Rather than discussing this big picture, I would like to focus on SAP for Banking.