What Does Oracle's Court Victory Mean For IT Sourcing Professionals? Not Much, Actually.

Yesterday, Oracle got a surprisingly high award from an Oakland jury in its case against SAP, in respect of its now defunct TomorrowNow subsidiary.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-23/sap-must-pay-oracle-1-3-billion-over-unit-s-downloads.html

Photo of Oakland Raiders Fans

The Oakland Jury, pictured after the verdict.

As my colleague Paul Hamerman blogs here (http://blogs.forrester.com/paul_hamerman/10-11-23-oracle_wins_13_billion_award_over_sap  ) SAP wasn't able to test the validity of the 3rd party support model, so this case has no bearing on the separate case between Oracle and Rimini Street.  I've stated previously that IT sourcing managers should not be put off by that dispute: Don't Let Oracle's Lawsuit Dissuade You From Considering 3SPs, But Recognize The Risks.

SAP customers shouldn't worry about the financial hit. SAP can pay the damages without having to rein back R&D. The pain may also stimulate it to greater competition with Oracle, both commercially and technologically, which will be beneficial for IT buyers. 

Was the award fair? Well, IANAL, so I can't answer that. But my question is, if the basis of the award was "if you take something from someone and you use it, you have to pay", as the juror said, does that mean SAP gets to keep the licenses for which the court is forcing it to pay?

Governing Large Implementation Projects: Execution Is Key -- Findings From Forrester's Recent Sourcing Forum

We met with 30 Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals during an action session at Forrester’s Sourcing & Vendor Management Forum in Chicago to discuss how to improve governance for large implementation projects. Clients were looking for help across the sourcing life cycle – from determining who manages the RFP process, to determining scope with internal stakeholders, to driving governance after the contract is signed.

What tactics are Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals using to tackle these challenges?

1. Renegotiate rates with current players. Forrester’s recent survey found that 68% of organizations are renegotiating with their existing suppliers. One attendee said, “This has always been a priority, now we are bringing more efficiency and innovation to the process.”

2. Drive innovation from vendors. Everyone wants innovation from their suppliers but few receive it.  Attendees shared tips for how they overcome major hurdles to achieving this in their supplier relationships:

a. Define what you mean by innovation. Many struggle to get innovation from their providers because they haven’t defined what that means — are you looking for idea-sharing or process improvements? Determine which type of innovation you need and communicate that to your vendor.

b. Identify metrics. “It’s not just how you measure innovation; it’s how you measure successful innovation.” Clients shared a variety of metrics such as:

i. Requiring the vendor to submit continuous improvement ideas they agree are impactful to your organization

ii. Number of ideas submitted for approval

iii. Number approved

iv.  ROI of implemented idea

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An Impressive Keynote From SAP’s Co-CEO Opens SAP’s UK And Ireland User Conference

I attend several software company customer events each year, and I always feel like the only atheist in a room full of religious zealots. However big or small the vendor, whether it consistently delivers competitive advantage or overcharges for mediocre software, the people who come to the events are usually fans — people whose careers depend on their employer continuing to invest in the product they know.

The SAP UK user conference today in Manchester was no different. So when Jim Hageman Snabe stood up to deliver his keynote, this wasn’t the toughest crowd he’s ever faced. Whatever their concerns about product strategies, support costs, court cases, etc., these people are desperate for him to do well, because otherwise they are out of a job.

Nonetheless, even heretics like me would have to admit that JHS delivered a great keynote. Even Ruby Wax, the Anglo-American comedienne compere was moved to say “you could sell anything.” Here are some of the things that particularly impressed me:

·         Likeability. From linking his speech to Ruby’s opening routine, to funny and pertinent family stories, JHS showed what sort of person he is. This is very different from his predecessors and competitors. When he says he wants SAP to be more customer-focused, it’s clear that he means it.

·         Clarity. JHS set out simply and effectively where he wants SAP to focus its development. He set out six themes: quality first, stabilize the core, reduce TCO, innovate without disruption, improve usability, give customers predictability. Then he explained succinctly how SAP is addressing each one, in parallel with its vision for in-memory computing, on demand availability, and mobile device usability. Even if you disagree with his vision, you’re in no doubt what it is.

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At Last, After A Long Courtship, They’re Engaged! (Ariba and Quadrem, That Is)

No, I’m not wasting Forrester’s blog space for yet more coverage of the royal engagement. I think Ariba’s proposed acquisition of Quadrem, that it announced today, is much more interesting. http://ht.ly/3bPei

Royal souvenir plate

Forrester has been predicting, and advocating, consolidation in the procure-to-pay market for a while:

“Once consolidation starts, the natural imperative of scale in the technology business will transform the market into one in which a few large, successful, interoperating networks enable buyers to reach all their suppliers, however small or physically remote.” Enterprises Should Push Supplier Networks To Deliver Interoperability, July 2009.

While I’m unqualified to comment on whose investors do better from the $150m purchase price for a company with about $50m revenue, I do believe the merger is good news for both sets of customers and suppliers. Firstly, Ariba reinforces its place as one of the four or five large supplier networks that will eventually dominate the market. Its customers now get access to a wider stable of suppliers. Quadrem originated as a marketplace for mining companies, so it is particularly strong in MRO categories and in natural-resource-rich regions such as Africa and Latin America where Ariba is under-represented.

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Re-creating The Way We Work

“Re-creating the way we work.”

That’s Michael Chaney’s vision for procurement at Cisco in an era of Empowered users. Next week at Forrester’s Sourcing & Vendor Management Forum in Chicago, Michael, who heads up Cisco’s procurement relationship group at Cisco, will talk about procurement’s role in the innovation engine at Cisco. I recently caught up with Michael, who is also a member of Forrester’s Sourcing & Vendor Management Council, to discuss procurement’s role in innovation at Cisco.

 

Ross: How has your role evolved in the past year and how do you see it changing over the next?

Chaney: At the beginning of 2010, I was running the global IT VMS (Vendor Management Services) team. My team and I are now part of Global Procurement Services (GPS) helping to drive the value we created within IT across all of Cisco’s global enterprise. Though the operating models are similar, the challenges in connecting with all business functions, developing a broader set of suppliers and actioning a significantly higher level of spend are different. And other groups have also been consolidated in to drive the new GPS model. Our goal this next year is to recreate the way we work and still deliver the incremental value Cisco needs from procurement (like re-building the airplane in flight).  

 

Ross: Empowering technologies – mobile, video, cloud, and social – are introducing new vendors to the business. What challenges do you face bringing new vendors into your business?

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Sourcing Groups Prepare For 2011 -- Cloud Is Key Initiative

Sourcing executives are winding down 2010 and gearing up for 2011. Most of the sourcing executives we have spoken with recently are bullish about the year ahead, despite some looming uncertainty about the economy, particularly in Europe. Spend is opening up again, and buyers are investing in more strategic initiatives. But sourcing groups still struggle to balance low cost and high value.

Many of the sourcing groups currently working with Forrester are asking about cloud as a viable alternative to traditional deployment models. Cloud promises rapid deployment, potentially significant cost savings, and variable pricing in line with how buyers want to pay in the current economy. And cloud offerings continue to mature in areas where buyers previously had concerns (vendor viability, security, architecture, location of data). Cloud adoption is already over 25% in North America, and continues to grow in Europe (led by UK, but also growing in areas like Germany, France, the Nordics).

Most sourcing strategies around cloud consist of five key phases:

1.       Understanding the evolving supplier landscape and market maturity across cloud offerings.

2.       Educating business (and potentially IT) about the advantages and disadvantages of cloud.

3.       Building decision frameworks to support cloud purchases.

4.       Creating a contract negotiation and pricing strategy for cloud; building contract templates.

5.       Working with business, vendor management, and IT to routinely evaluate ROI and decide whether to renew relationships or find alternatives (potentially cloud, hosted, on-premise, or hybrid).

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