So, your organization needs to get social. We all get the benefits. More interactions among more knowledge workers with more frictionless access to more content equals a perfect environment for something new and great to happen. "Peanut butter, have you met chocolate? Oh, you work in separate parts of the organization and haven't had the pleasure yet? Well, you two are a match made in heaven. And, the vast majority of the organization agrees."
Flip comments aside, companies are considering making big bets on enterprise social technologies. For many organizations, particularly in North America and Western Europe, knowledge workers are the last real opportunity for competitive differentiation. Social technologies offer the promise of magnifying that differentiation and potentially in dramatic fashion. The question is how do you drive the cultural and organizational change that come with Enterprise 2.0 as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the end of the day, how do you go about setting up the best environment to drive those incredibly valuable serendipitous interactions?
Andrew McAfee, the father of Enterprise 2.0, recently blogged that the way to get to critical mass most quickly is to drop the pilot and go straight to enterprise deployment. While the conversation that followed was somewhat contentious (including some interesting discussion on a panel I was on at the Gilbane Conference yesterday) Andy's main contention is not up for debate. Social networks thrive on scale and critical mass. The more quickly and broadly that the social network evolves, the greater the chance it has to thrive and ultimately produce those accidental and potentially magical interactions.
Here I sit finally getting a chance to reflect on my 30 hours in Saudi Arabia. Yes, just a little more than one day. But one day was enough to change any preconception that I might have had, and spark my interest to learn more. My “day” started with the VIP treatment through passport control – which I must say was much appreciated. The airport in Riyadh is certainly not Dubai International – far from it. But if there were any disappointment at the inauspicious first impression, it stopped there. Although to set the stage, I was invited to Saudi Arabia by IBM to participate in an analyst event showcasing “Smarter Cities” initiatives in the Kingdom. So admittedly, I was only presented the “smart” side of Riyadh. I am eager to see more.
Today, Google announced Google App Engine for Business, and integration with VMware’s SpringSource offerings. On Monday, we got a preview of the news from David Glazer, Engineering Director at Google, and Jerry Chen, Senior Director Cloud Services at VMware.
For tech industry strategists, this is another step in the development of cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Java Spring developers now have a full platform-as-a-service host offering in Google App Engine for Business, the previously announced VMforce offering from salesforce.com, plus the options of running their own platform and OS stacks on premise or in virtual machines at service providers supporting vCloud Express, such as Terremark.
What’s next? IBM and Oracle have yet to put up full Java PaaS offerings, so I expect that to show up sometime soon – feels late already for them to put up some kind of early developer version. And SAP is also likely to create their own PaaS offering. But it’s not clear if any of them will put the same emphasis on portability and flexible, rich Web-facing apps that Google and VMware are.
So Google aims to expand into enterprise support – but will need more than the planned SQL support, SSL, and SLAs they are adding this year. They'll also need to figure out how to fully integrate into corporate networks, the way that CloudSwitch aims to do.
During this week’s Sapphire conference SAP co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott repeatedly stated that their goal is to make SAP the market leader for on-device, on-premises, and on-demand enterprise solutions. This very bold statement raises two simple questions:
With what products and values does SAP want to be the leader? Does the company want to win the technical innovation race or the business optimization and intimacy race?
How does the leadership goal translate into meaningful operational commitments? Does SAP have the determination and resources required to win in all categories?
We don’t have clear answers to these questions, but the next couple of months will show whether and how this goal translates into organizational capabilities. Right now, we just need to wait with patience for the next change and live with the — hopefully incorrect — impression that SAP is pursuing three strategic tracks simultaneously: intimacy, innovation, and growth.
I strongly agree with Paul Hamerman, who recently observed that SAP's success as a company will be a function of how well it looks after the best interests of customers and how it links innovation to customer value — not growth.
Yesterday I attended the first day of SuccessFactors’ California customer conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Efficiency, speed, and good orchestration were evident throughout the day. The CEO, Lars Dalgaard, is a high-energy person who exudes confidence in the growth of his company. He is a real showman, and rather than giving a high-level company overview, his 90-minute presentation focused on product demos with touchscreen projections that worked fairly well. He clearly knows the products, has market momentum, and is driving the company forward. Lars would say, “We are about ‘Execution!’” The SuccessFactors slogan is “Success = Strategy + Execution.” The touted “new” offerings include recruiting (it’s been out for two years); a core HR data management app called Employee Central; calibration; goal execution; and the brand-new offerings through acquisitions -- Inform for workforce planning and analytics, and CubeTree for social collaboration. Acquisitions are new for SuccessFactors, so it hasn’t had experience in bringing together different company cultures and technologies, but my bet is that they’ll be successful.
I've had a couple of interesting discussions about telecom and network equipment makers in the last few days. How can they take advantage of the cloud mania? Here are some quick thoughts:
1. Offer their equipment on a pay-per-use basis. Requires them to assume capital risk and bulk up the balance sheet. Might cannibalize gear sales. The usage pricing should be attractive for occasional use, but unattractive for constant use.
2. Create a cloud service that complements and advantages their telecom gear. Since the equipment sits in telecom operators and service providers around the world, work with customers to create a service that builds on data collected, with permission, from the experience of those customers.
3. Explore whether there's a service-only offering that is attractive to operators and hosters. Can a telecom equipment vendor offer capability as a cloud service, rather than as an on-premise product? There's probably something, but I don't know the market well enough to know. But I can't imagine cloud services fully replacing on-premises equipment.
What are your thoughts on how telecom equipment makers can take advantage of cloud services opportunities?
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:
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 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).