It’s the time of year when business apps observers adopt a Janus stance toward market trends. Like the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions, analysts look back at the recent past while also peering ahead into the future. Here’s my contribution to that ongoing debate highlighting three areas of enterprise resource planning (ERP) I thought of particular interest in 2012 and in the years ahead. Customers are set to benefit as more ERP deployment options and additional SaaS financials apps become available.
ERP vendors are going all-in with the cloud. Many ERP vendors debuted product or fleshed out their strategies for software-as-a-service (SaaS) ERP in 2012, and further developments are set for 2013. While the focus this year has been on SaaS ERP — and often how a SaaS offering can live in hybrid harmony with its older sibling, on-premises ERP — some vendors also revealed their platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) strategies. When it comes to PaaS, ERP vendors are opening up their own development platform and/or partnering with vendors like Amazon.com and Microsoft. Cloud-focused acquisitions also continued in 2012, notably SAP’s purchase of procurement rival Ariba to help fill out the suppliers pillar of its four-pillar app cloud — the other three pillars being people (HR), money (financials), and customers (CRM).
My colleague Ted Schadler and I published several case studies in our recent report, "The Road To Social Business Transformation Starts With A Burning Platform." What follows is one of those stories -- SAS's social collaboration platform, The Hub, designed to capture conversations that were leaking out into the public social sphere as employees attempted to share information. Here's the story:
SAS is a company noted for its focus on its people — it has appeared in every one of Fortune's lists of "100 Best Companies to Work For" during the list's 15-year history. And it's no wonder: SAS's perks include intramural sports leagues and a subsidized healthcare center. SAS's commitment to its people, though, goes beyond their health and well-being. The Cary, N.C., software vendor also wants to ensure that its people have tools that keep them connected and engaged, allowing them to stay productive and informed.
In 2009, this desire manifested itself in Senior Director of Internal Communications Karen Lee's push for creating a new platform for the corporate intranet. IT Senior Director Tom Sherrod and his team had worked closely with Karen and her team to roll out an intranet with many embedded tools, such as blogs and wikis. But Karen and company felt something was missing — they wanted a "more social intranet" that provided more information about people, such as pictures.
You remember the tribbles don't you? The cute, harmless looking alien species from the second season of the original Star Trek that turn out to be anything but benign. They are born pregnant and reproduce at an alarming rate. The tribbles threaten the ship, but fortunately Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott is able to transport all of the furry creatures to a departing Klingon ship. The tribbles remind me of technology investments:
You start out small, but before you realize it the technology is everywhere and you are overwhelmed. It ends up in places you never intended.
Like the relaxing purr of the tribbles, the flashing lights of racks and stacks of gear gives us warm comfort at night
Tribbles consume everything, just like the operational requirements of much of our technology investment: resources, budget, and productivity are all devoured.
Keeping up with the threat and IT landscape, looking ahead to future technology and disruptive technologies, and keeping up with the regulatory landscape to identify what it means to your organization is no small task. It’s also not a technology issue, but one that involves your most valuable asset: people. S&R pros, call it maintaining your security edge: keeping skills fresh, encouraging new ideas to flow, and preventing the security group from getting stale and set in their ways and habits. Fail to invest in your people, and an exodus of talent will the least of your concerns as a new type of internal threat is born. A security team and an organization that maintains their security edge will be better equipped to protect the organization and its assets through better decision making at all levels.
I’m kicking off research on this topic in the coming weeks, and would love to hear what you think it means to maintain your security edge. My initial ideas approach the topic from three angles:
Individual security contributors. These are the folks that need to keep their skills fresh and network with peers. Consider opening up opportunities for them to take continuing education courses, achieve certifications, or attend conferences. Encourage participation in online communities or social networks to connect with peers.
The security group as a whole. This is where group think may occur, and lead to less than optimal decisions, especially if there hasn’t been much focus given to the development of individual security contributors. Bringing in new blood and a fresh perspective with an external advisor can be beneficial. Or, perhaps, engage in information sharing with other organizations where appropriate.
I've been spending the last few months doing research and a number of speaking engagements and webinars on the evolution of Big Data in Asia Pacific. What has become clear is that APAC organisations are struggling with the disruptive forces of big data - whether they have actually implemented it or not.
Disruptive technologies are often assumed to be disruptive because of the transformational benefits they might bring to those organisations that actually implement them. However, this research has highlighted that disruption exists simply because the concept exists. Whether the term relates to something physical or real (or not), it's still becoming disruptive to the organisation. We've seen this many times before - cloud computing, radio frequency identification tags (RFID), electronic market places - the list goes on.
How companies choose to cope with this disruption...or how they attempt to challenge it head-on...is particularly interesting. For some, it's a case of complete denial - "there's nothing new or different about this technology (or the problems that it's supposed to be solving)...so we don't need to do anything". For others it's a case of failing fast and pushing the bounds of what is, or what is not, possible. Whether Big Data is the underlying driving force or not, really doesn't matter. It's a catalyst for change that brings a change in thinking, a change in organisational priorities and a change in operational and project budget allocations.
This case study is from TJ Keitt's and my social business playbook report, “The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform.” A social business uses technology to work efficiently using a common collaboration platform -- without being constrained by server availability or storage capacity. Here’s the story.
If you've already consolidated dozens of email systems from every vendor and era onto a single managed instance of Exchange 2007, made the shift to support 70 or more state agencies by operating as an ISP, and crunched 20 SharePoint instances down to a single scalable data center, what else is there to do? After all, you've already achieved a high state of IT operational efficiency and process optimization.
If you are Ed Valencia, CTO and Deputy Commissioner, and Tarek Tomes, Customer and Service Management, Assistant Commissioner, the State of Minnesota’s IT department (MN.IT), you step back and ask, “Has what we’ve done really helped the business communicate and collaborate efficiently and effectively?” They knew they could do more by moving their collaboration workloads into the cloud.
So they took a gamble that Microsoft's Office 365 Dedicated offering was ready for the State of Minnesota. Office 365 Dedicated has opened new doors for people throughout the State of Minnesota government. Agencies can collaborate with one another because the common collaboration platform integrates the disparate directories of the different government entities. For example, the Governor can send a message to every agency in the executive branch through this common platform.
The CRM solution landscape has experienced considerable change, including significant vendor consolidation and a rapid rise in the popularity SaaS solutions — often referred to as "CRM in the cloud." Organizations adopt SaaS CRM solutions because of low upfront costs, good usability, proven scalability, better flexibility, and faster time-to-value compared with traditional on-premises applications. Forrester surveys indicate that nearly 70% of organizations are interested in, or are currently using, SaaS solutions for horizontal business processes such as CRM and HR.
But clients tell me they cannot capture the promised benefits if they do not have certain prerequisites within their own skill sets, such as the right developer talent and governance model to work in an agile, iterative approach that leading organizations use to be successful. This is not your father’s CRM anymore, so don’t make these mistakes:
For social media evangelists, the question on everyone's mind is this: "How do we effectively measure the business value of social initiatives?"
Even when we get close, there's always that pesky issue of causation vs. correlation — can we really prove causation even for examples with high correlation between social initiatives and business outcomes? (Read Freakonomics, or watch the documentary, for insights into the challenges of causation vs. correlation.)
Big data is not defined by how you can measure data in terms of volume, velocity, and variety. The three Vs are just measures of data— how much, how fast, and how diverse? A quaint definition of big data to be sure, but not an actionable, complete definition for IT and business professionals. A more pragmatic definition of big data must acknowledge that:
Exponential data growth makes it continuously difficult to manage — store, process, and access.
Data contains nonobvious information that firms can discover to improve business outcomes.