Unfortunately, I will not able to deliver the keynote presentation at Forrester’s upcoming Infrastructure and Operations Forum in Paris as planned. The theme of the conference is “Redefining your greenfield,” and I was looking forward to sharing my observations of “greenfield” in the context of smart cities. So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here.
A “greenfield” presents the opportunity to do things differently, to innovate. We often think of a greenfield as the clean slate, the ability to start from scratch, to create without the baggage of history, without existing infrastructure, without meddling stakeholders. We often hear of greenfields these days in the context of new cities – the massive infrastructure projects cropping up in the deserts of the Gulf region, or in Asia. In the IT world, we think of the entrepreneurial start up building out their infrastructure from ground up. Or even an emerging market with no technology legacy. But greenfield opportunities aren’t just for startups or emerging markets, and moreover, their grass isn’t always greener.
That’s not to say the promise isn’t appealing. The new, technology-enabled greenfield cities provide a clean slate, and the ability to test new technologies and practices. Think about:
Networking across the city to facilitate home entertainment, telecommuting, remote diagnostics, eLearning, and eGovernment.
Smart grids to respond more quickly to vagaries in electricity supply and demand, and to enable self-repairing networks.
The big news in the ePurchasing software market yesterday was SAP’s acquisition of Ariba. This blockbuster deal will extend SAP’s position as the largest software vendor in the ePurchasing market. It also brings into the SAP fold one of the most innovative companies in this market – a company that has a fair claim to having begun the whole market in the late 1990s.
Still, as my title suggests, I’m not convinced that this acquisition makes strategic sense. I think there’s a real risk that this turns out to be a deal where one plus one equals 1.75, not two, let alone a multiple of two. Reason one: the tremendous duplication of products between the two firms, and thus the problems of product rationalization and internal competition. Reason two: the Ariba Network, which is the main rationale for the acquisition, is based on an idiosyncratic pricing model that in my view is unsustainable at current rates and thus will not generate the kinds of revenues that SAP is expecting.
Let me first state the case for why this could be a good deal:
SAP has a goal of significantly increasing the portion of its revenues that come from SaaS subscriptions, so adding a projected $342 million in subscriptions revenues in 2012 (on an annual basis – SAP’s share for the year will be about half that) helps SAP reach its target of $2 billion in SaaS revenues.
Ariba has correctly recognized the economic value in operating a supplier network that stands between corporate buyers and suppliers and facilitates their transactions. SAP’s acquisition of Ariba now gives it control of and revenues from the largest of these supplier networks.
On May 15, 2012, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore announced that it would award its much-awaited externally hosted g-cloud infrastructure five-year tender to SingTel. My colleague Jennifer Belissent and I published a report on g-cloud opportunities in Asia Pacific late last year that highlighted Singapore as one of the governments leading the way toward g-cloud adoption in the region.
Some key highlights from the Singapore g-cloud contract:
SingTel will be responsible for all of the capex- and opex-related costs needed to build and manage the central infrastructure from its own data center in Singapore.
Singtel will provide a central “G-Cloud Service Portal” to all government organizations and departments to access central g-cloud services (computing, storage, database, archiving, networking, and other basic resources) and derive revenue based on a subscription model.
The Singapore government has not committed to any particular minimum g-cloud usage level.
SingTel will provide the required training to government departments on g-cloud functioning.
SAP Gets Serious About The Large Enterprise Application Cloud:
Its Long-Term Strategy Should Involve A Triple Platform Play For The Cloud
Until now, it looked like SAP was still trying to balance its existing on-premises licensed business with the cloud alternative. But following its acquisition of Success Factors and the arrival of that company’s outstanding CEO, Lars Dalgaard, SAP has become really serious about applications in the cloud, placing Mr. Dalgaard at the head of a 5,000-person development team.
SAP’s new cloud strategy is all about business applications in large enterprises. SAP today announced its People, Money, Customers, Suppliers strategy — a significant move to offer business applications for large enterprises, rather than just SMBs and a few niche cases. It’s really targeting its core business users. Today’s announcements show SAP combining its core strength of large enterprise applications with a ready-to-use cloud strategy for the first time.
What is really mission-critical in this transformation of SAP and its global customer base?
1. Cloud-generation business applications.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications are not just rehosted traditional applications. SAP is still on a learning curve, and the infusion of Success Factors will definitely help. The upcoming generations of enterprise users expect their applications to be simple, collaborative, mobile, and very different from what they (and their moms and dads) have used in the past. SAP key’s challenge is to keep their existing, conservative customer base happy while meeting the requirements of (and signing deals with) this new generation.
Dan Bieler; Bryan Wang; Henry Dewing; Katyayan Gupta; Tirthankar Sen
Huawei hosted about 160 industry and financial analysts at its annual analyst summit in Shenzhen, China in April 2012. The main take-aways from the event are:
Huawei continues its drive for more financial openness and transparency. Huawei provided detailed information about its financial and operational performance. In 2011 Huawei grew revenues by 12% to reach US$32.4bn and EBIT by 9% to US$3bn. The main regional growth was registered in Latin America, up 40%. Although due to higher capex cash from operating activities declined, the cash margin stood at 9%. Huawei is easily able to fund its expansion and innovation activities. In 2011, Huawei hired 30,000 new staff, bringing the total to 140,000 globally. For 2012 Huawei targets between 15-20% sales growth.
Huawei places main growth emphasis on enterprise services and consumer devices. These market segments represent a potential target market with a combined value of about US$1.7 trillion, compared with the carrier equipment market value of about US$150 billion. Huawei repeatedly pointed out the early-stage nature of its activities in these areas. It even felt as if Huawei consciously played down its ambitions in order to downplay expectations.
Huawei must strengthen its go-to-market strategy for its enterprise business. With more than 40% of Huawei’s current business coming from China, Huawei has to continue to fine tune its go-to-market model and penetrate markets other than China in a swift manner. Huawei also has to push for stronger relationship with their partners and increase their share in the total revenue.
Earlier this morning, the consulting firm launched “Deloitte Digital.” Part offering and part organizational change, the initiative brings together a mix of business, technology, and creative expertise to address a perfect storm of technology change. The firm will bring together five key capabilities — strategy, mobile, social, web content, and digital ERP. Deloitte Digital will focus on mobile and social, while the traditional technology services and consulting groups will handle the strategy, web content, and digital ERP elements. The tag line for Deloitte Digital is “business led, tech enabled and creative infused.” From an organizational view point, the firm has taken a page from its 2011 acquisition of Übermind and created 11 digital studios around the globe. Approximately 50% of the staff in the studios will come from a creative, graphic design, or user experience background. The rest will be a mix of engineers focused on emerging technologies and resources coming from the traditional consulting or technology services side of Deloitte. To showcase their newfound creative chops, the Deloitte Digital Team presented the pre-announcement to the analysts using paper “pitch books” straight out of the new reality advertising TV show “The Pitch.”
Forrester believes that the Deloitte announcement highlights the hybrid skill model that the new mobile apps and systems of engagement will require. Deloitte Digital is an innovative approach for multidisciplinary new skills required for success. However, it is still not apparent how the firm would tackle the other key side of the mobile equation, building the broad ecosystem of software and as-a-service partners in order to quickly roll out solutions for clients.
The other day I visited Colt’s London HQ and saw how the telco is revamping its approach to developing more customer-centric and Agile solutions (Colt consciously avoids the “cloud” terminology). By now, most telcos managed to jump onto the cloud bandwagon by launching cloud-based services. The challenge, from an end user perspective, is that these solutions all seem very similar. Customers can get storage, server capacity, unified communications, etc., from most telcos. All telcos underline the value-added nature of end-to-end network QoS and security that they can ensure (check out our report, "Telcos As Cloud Rainmakers"). Indeed, telcos have some right to feel that they have achieved some progress regarding their cloud offerings — although it took Amazon to show them the opportunity.
But most telco cloud offerings suffer from the fact that telcos develop cloud solutions in the traditional sense through their traditional product factories. This approach tends to follow rather than slow product innovation cycles. Moreover, it produces products that, once developed, are pushed to the customer as a standard offering. All customisation costs extra.
The reality of cloud demand is that each customer is different. Most customers want some form of customisation. Most customers want some form of hybrid cloud, a private part for core apps, as well as access to the open Internet to, for instance, exchange views and information with end customers via Twitter or for crowd sourcing with suppliers. Similarly, most customers want a mix of fixed and virtual assets and a blend of self-service and managed service solutions as the chart indicates.