Comprehensive integration solutions (CISes) have been in the market for several years and provide robust features for solving application, B2B, and process integration challenges. But what a lot of people don't yet understand is that these tools can also dramatically speed up general-purpose application development efforts as well. Savings of 40% to 60% reduction in time and cost are frequently quoted by enterprises using a CIS for application development. How is this possible, you ask?
CIS products provide several tightly integrated components that can speed up development efforts, including:
A graphical environment that supports model-driven development. This approach replaces manual java coding with dynamic interpretation of java code based on process models created in either BPMN or BPEL diagrams.
An embedded ESB that provides out-of-the-box features supporting messaging, routing, and transaction management. ESBs can be used to minimize the creation of point-to-point integration interfaces with a more-flexible service bus approach.
An integration server that supports both simple and complex transformations with full support for a wide range of EDI and XML-based data formats.
A registry/repository for supporting the creation, management, and reuse of a wide range of application artifacts, including services.
While the increasing capability of tools to cross integration silos is a significant development, the main thrust behind holistic integration efforts inside of enterprises should be focused on bringing together the disparate integration teams (for application, B2B, process, and data integration) to create a comprehensive enterprise integration strategy and implementation plan. These teams have traditionally operated in isolation, but that has to change if we really want to make progress in improving the success of integration efforts. As the following chart shows, this process is tool agnostic.
There are many hurdles to this approach, not the least of which will be internal resistance from individual team members. However, we have spoken with a few organizations that have adopted this strategy, and they believe they are on the right track. Is your organization considering this? Does this approach make sense? Please share your thoughts.
SAP's recent acquisition of Crossgate does not mark a significant change in either vendor's level of B2B functionality. It is strictly a matter of SAP exerting control over an increasingly important deployment channel (SaaS-based B2B document exchange). SAP and Crossgate first entered into a partnership in 2007, and the two parties have gradually worked to integrate their respective offerings since that time.
However, this is not the only opportunity that SAP customers have to support their electronic document exchange needs. Seeburger has provided (directly and indirectly) effective B2B alternatives for SAP customers for more than twenty years, and we do not expect this to change. GXS and Sterling Commerce (IBM) also support managed services document exchange for many SAP customers (similar to those of Crossgate). And finally, a growing number of integration providers offer direct B2B document exchange capability based on the AS1/AS2/AS3 protocols.
So this announcement is about "more of the same" than anything else.
The acquisition of RightNow by Oracle makes sense for both companies’ CRM solutions strategies. Oracle wants to beef up its overall “cloud” portfolio. This is a strength of RightNow, one of the pioneers of the SaaS deployment model. It also needs a stronger play in the customer service sector — an area that salesforce.com targeted several years ago. This is the core domain strength of RightNow.
RightNow has had good success, posting strong growth over the last several years — but a $250 million software company found itself at an awkward size to compete against giants like Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft.
The big risk to this deal is that the corporate cultures of Oracle and RightNow could not be more different. Oracle’s bare-knuckle approach to sales and how it treats customers is the complete opposite of RightNow’s ethos of client centricity and flexibility.
Many clients that have chosen RightNow may not be happy to hear that Oracle is their new software supplier for customer service. And the employees at RightNow are likely to find working for Oracle an unpleasant contrast to Montana-based RightNow’s corporate ethos.
It’s exciting to see the news of yet another acquisition in the world of customer service with the announcement of Oracle’s intent to acquire RightNow. Today’s contact center ecosystem is complex and comprised of a great number of vendors who provide overlapping and competing capabilities. I’ve previously blogged about what these critical software components are. The reason why these acquisitions are good is that they align with what customers want: a simpler technology ecosystem to manage from both a systems perspective and a contractual perspective. And suite solutions available from unified communications (UC), CRM, and workforce optimization (WFO) vendors are evolving and include comprehensive feature sets. These vendors have either built these capabilities out or acquired them via M&A activity — and we expect more M&A to happen.
Now, to focus on the RightNow acquisition. This acquisition, at a high level, is a win-win for both companies:
RightNow gets the big-company marketing, professional services, and sales reach of Oracle to grow beyond its current run rate and compete more effectively with salesforce.com, Microsoft, and to a lesser degree SAP. Forrester rated RightNow as a leader in our Forrester Wave™ for CRM and CRM customer service suites.
But we know that businesses must be pragmatic in choosing initiatives that will help deliver service in line with customer expectations, and at a cost that makes sense to the business.
Companies are looking at many ways to move the needle on customer service by leveraging the power of social media, mobile, and new cloud-based deployment methods. However, I hear few companies talking about what they are doing to optimize the customer service agent’s experience so that he can deliver better service to his customers.
Today, customer service agents use tens, if not hundreds, of disconnected systems to address a customer’s request. Have a look at the example of a desktop that Jacada gave me — lots of apps, and even some green-screen apps!
“… and they lived happily ever after.” This is the typical ending of most Hollywood movies, which is why I am not a big fan. I much prefer European or independent movies that leave it up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions. It’s just so much more realistic. Keep this in mind, please, as you read this blog, because its only purpose is to present my point of view on what’s happening in the cloud BI market, not to predict where it’s going. I’ll leave that up to your comments — just like your own thoughts and feelings after a good, thoughtful European or indie movie.
First of all, let’s define the market. Unfortunately, the terms SaaS and cloud are often used synonymously and therefore, alas, incorrectly.
SaaS is just a licensing structure. Many vendors (open source, for example) offer SaaS software subscription models, which has nothing to do with cloud-based hosting.
Cloud, in my humble opinion, is all about multitenant software hosted on public or private clouds. It’s not about cloud hosting of traditional software innately architected for single tenancy.
This is a very smart move by Oracle. Until the Siebel and Hyperion acquisitions, Oracle was not a leader in the BI and analytics space. Those acquisitions put them squarely in the top three together with IBM and SAP. However, until this morning, Oracle played mostly in the traditional BI space: reporting, querying, and analytics based on relational databases. But these mainstream relational databases are an awkward fit for BI. You can use them, but it requires lots of tuning and customization and constant optimization — which is difficult, time-consuming, and costly. Unfortunately, row-based RDBMSes like IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and Sybase ASE were originally designed and architected for transaction processing, not reporting and analysis. In order to tune such a RDBMS for BI usage, specifically data warehousing, architects usually:
Denormalize data models to optimize reporting and analysis.
Build indexes to optimize queries.
Build aggregate tables to optimize summary queries.
Build OLAP cubes to further optimize analytic queries.
My colleague and friend Mike Gualtieri wrote a really interesting blog the other day titled "Agile Software Is A Cop-Out; Here's What's Next." While I am not going to discuss the great conclusions and "next practices" of software (SW) development Mike suggests in that blog, I do want to focus on the assumption he makes about using working SW as a measurement of Agile.
I am currently researching that area and investigating how organizations actually measure the value of Agile SW development (business and IT value). And I am finding that, while organizations aim to deliver working SW, they also define value metrics to measure progress and much more:
Cycle time (e.g., from concept to production);
Business value (from number of times a feature is used by clients to impact on sales revenue, etc.);
Productivity metrics (such as burndown velocity, number of features deployed versus estimated); and last but not least
Quality metrics (such as defects per sprint/release, etc.).