I spent some of this week at IBM's annual Connect analyst event, a cornerstone for understanding Big Blue's direction from the perspective of its fastest-growing and most profitable division.
And the direction is pretty clear: behind-the-scenes product integration is enabling tighter marketing and sales integration across what have been separate brands (Lotus, Tivoli, Cognos, etc.) in the software portfolio. Now the emphasis is on capabilities, and on tuning or packaging those capabilities into industry-oriented bundles such as "social business" or "smarter commerce."
IBM's Smarter Planet initiative is starting to have a positive impact in its software business. For the first couple of years since launch, Smarter Planet was principally a door-opener for IBM's business consulting teams, creating interest among clients in how IBM could help assess and improve business performance.
As those engagements have progressed and multiplied, the consulting organization has created "patterns" across them, problems that they run into repeatedly in a particular industry or geography. Those patterns are now being put into code for industry-specific solutions, for APIs that other software vendors can hook into, and other software artifacts. So Smarter Planet is starting to drive opportunity and revenue for the software group as well as consulting services.
ERP vendors are showing strong interest in the HRM SaaS market. They are either attempting to build a solution (as Oracle is doing with Fusion) or looking to acquire HRM functionality (as SAP is about to do with SuccessFactors). Talent applications — including offerings like performance, succession, and learning — are not easy to build. The niche players have been laser-focused for years on building these solutions or integrating acquisitions, and generally they have done a good job. Now we see other vendors that want this functionality buying up these niche players to offer a complete end-to-end HRM solution. The HRM market is hot! My colleague Paul Hamerman and I have authored research that shows performance growing faster — at 16.5% — than any other HRM segment (HRM Solutions: Traditional Models Clash With Next Generation Processes And Technology). Executives know that having highly skilled employees who know the business and can execute well on strategy is critical to business growth.
Back in August of this year, Marc Andreessen published an essay in the WSJ highlighting his thoughts on why software's eating the world. I encourage you to read it. It highlights something we firmly believe. We’ve entered the age of software, and you’re at its center. With December upon us and many of you engaged in finalizing 2012 plans and reviewing your 3 - 5 year strategies, I encourage you to look beyond tech developments like cloud, big data, and the App Internet. Focus instead on what you need to deliver good software, and keep three things I'd gladly tell you and your CIO top of mind.
Software IS your business. This age isn't just about Borders and Amazon, game developers, or online service delivery capabilities. No, look at how software's increasingly a part of everyday life. What about your TV, your car? Heck, my wife's new ovens have software embedded in the digital display that takes all the guesswork out of baking! Whatever business you're in, be it financial services, public sector, consumer products, insurance, healthcare, energy, or logistics, you name it, you can no longer simply look at software or application development as a support function. Software IS your business.
Yes, there I said it. I can see the “Cult of SaaS” snipers congregating on the rooftops. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
In all seriousness though, when ServiceNow was quick to achieve success with its “SaaS-delivered IT service management goodness” at the tail end of the noughties, it was all about the SaaS (and customer satisfaction of course). It differentiated them from the ITSM tool vendor pack.
The "SaaS for ITSM" evolution
In a previous life I wrote about the potential for SaaS-delivered ITSM capabilities: SaaS and ITSM – a Marriage Made in Acronym Heaven? Who would have known that Service-now.com, as was, would have done so well, so quickly? I trust that their own projections were somewhat exceeded.
Some on-premise ITSM tool vendors said “unpleasant things” in the early days, but nigh on all of the major and minor ITSM vendors have since followed suit with their own SaaS offerings. In the spirit of the BBC and product endorsement I have to say that “other ITSM tools are available.” Check out some of the newest SaaS ITSM tool additions from Hornbill, LANDesk, and Numara.
Why is SaaS for ITSM a red herring?
Anyway, cutting to the chase … what sells a SaaS ITSM tool (or platform) such as ServiceNow? Many would think it is the fact that it is SaaS. I disagree.
Some Reflections On The Deal For Competitors, Partners, and Customers
On December 3, SAP announced the acquisition of SuccessFactors, a leading vendor for human capital management (HCM) cloud solutions. SAP will pay $3.5 billion (a 52% premium over the Dec 2 closing price) out of its full battle chest and take a $1 billion loan. SuccessFactors brings about 1,500 employees, more than 3,500 customers, and about 15 million users to the table. In 2010, the company reported revenues of $206 million and a net loss of $12.5 million. A price of $3.5 billion is certainly a big premium, but the acquisition catapults SAP into the ranks of leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution providers — a business that will grow from $21.3 billion in 2011 to $78.4 billion by 2015 (for more information, check out our report “Sizing The Cloud”). The deal will certainly help SAP to achieve its 2015 target of $20 billion revenue and 1 billion users as it mainly targets the 500,000 employees that SAP’s already existing customers have. The deal is expected to close in Q1 next year. However, because most of the stocks are widely spread, stakeholders might hold back for now, waiting for possible counter bids from competition.
Host-based intrusion prevention systems, host-based data leak protection, full disk and file level encryption . . . all are important tools used on the frontline of endpoint security. They all offer added levels of protection when used with traditional client AV and patch management systems, but at what cost? In order for these tools to be used correctly, organizations must be prepared to invest in increased IT staffing and product training for administrators. This generally proves to be too high of an obstacle for many SMBs, leaving a majority of the market to comprise of enterprises customers and big spenders. With their higher budgets and dedicated IT staff, enterprises are better positioned to take advantage of these advanced security technologies.
However, according to recent Forrester survey data, SMBs are just as interested in using these advanced security technologies. In our latest report "Endpoint Security Adoption Trends, Q2 2011 To Q4 2012," we present data showing adoption patterns of the various endpoint technologies in both SMBs and enterprises, while offering some analysis on what this means for security professionals looking to support current and future trends.
For those of you who are already planning on increasing your investment in endpoint security next year, which tools specifically are you looking at? What are your decision criteria?
We live in a world of increasing complexity: an increasing number of communication channels, an explosion of social data, the intertwining of sales, marketing, and customer service activities, and a growing amount of information and data that customer service agents need to answer customer questions. These issues complicate the challenge of being able to provide customers the service that is in line with their expectations — service that keeps customers loyal to your brand yet that can be delivered at a cost that makes sense for your business.
Being able to deliver the right customer service involves:
SAP is a paying a substantial premium to acquire SuccessFactors, a leading SaaS performance and talent management vendor. The press release of December 3, 2011 states that the deal price of $40 per share is a 52% premium over the Dec. 2 closing stock price. Even more startling is that SuccessFactors has a revenue run rate of roughly $300 to $330 million for 2011, and the acquisition price of $3.4 billion is more than 10 times revenue! Why then did SAP make this move?
SAP’s cloud strategy has been struggling with time-to-market issues, and its core on-premises HR management software has been at a competitive disadvantage with best-of-breed solutions in areas such as employee performance, succession planning, and learning management. By acquiring SuccessFactors, SAP puts itself into a much stronger competitive position in human resources applications and reaffirms its commitment to software-as-a-service as a key business model.
In my recent research for a soon-to-be-published Forrester Wave™ on human resource management systems (HRMS), I noted that SAP has more than 13,000 customers using its HCM suite. Yet the adoption of SAP’s learning and talent management products is much less (a few thousand, perhaps), which is noted in my colleague Claire Schooley’s “The Forrester Wave™: Talent Management, Q2 2011.” The talent management Forrester Wave also clearly shows that SAP’s embedded talent management offerings lag well behind the best-of-breed specialists in learning and performance management. The bottom line here is that SAP HCM customers predominantly run best-of-breed talent management solutions alongside their SAP core HRMS (i.e., the transactional employee system of record).
Today, SAP announced plans to acquire SuccessFactors, a leading human capital management (HCM) cloud platform with more than 15 million subscribers. This greatly accelerates SAP’s move into the cloud and makes it a provider of one of the world’s leading cloud solutions. SAP plans to operate SuccessFactors as a separate company.
For SuccessFactors customers, this will create more integration opportunities between their best-of-breed cloud HCM solution with SAP’s suite of enterprise applications products, in-memory computing platform HANA, and mobile computing platform Sybase.
For SAP customers, this creates an immediate opportunity to buy an innovative, proven, fast-growing cloud solution from their strategic enterprise software partner. Today, there is only a small overlap between SAP customers and SuccessFactors customers — meaning most SAP customers do not currently use SuccessFactors (and vice versa).
While there are great opportunities and synergies with this acquisition, it also runs the risk of potential downsides for customers: pricing and contract terms are likely to change and the pace and direction of innovation could slow down as the provider moves from a nimble, niche supplier to a new parent company with many competing initiatives.
If you’re sitting on the sidelines waiting for IaaS to become more standardized, stop it. You’ll be waiting there till 2015, while everyone else is building fundamental skills and ramping up their cloud knowledge. So jump in the game already!
In Forrester’s latest report, The State Of Infrastructure-As-A-Service Cloud Standards, we took a long look at the efforts in place today that drive cloud standardization and were not impressed. While there’s lots of effort taking place, progress thus far is miniscule. But that shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone familiar with the standardization process since:
a. Standards are always in arrears of best practice maturity
b. Collaboration is often time consuming, delaying the creation and ratification process
But why 2015? Standards organizations are still exploring the market needs — which means that by the time they identify where to focus and actually develop a proposed standard it will be at least a year for now. From there it will be a long year of committee meetings to vet and vote on the standard itself and build momentum for its release. And if the standard makes it to release and there’s enough market momentum behind that proposed standard, it will be another year or two before there’s significant adoption where it actually becomes a market standard. The standards timeline is easily three to four years out.