SAP’s Acquisition Of Crossgate Fills A Significant Gap In Its ePurchasing Portfolio

Duncan Jones

Yesterday, SAP announced its intention to acquire business-to-business (B2B) integration provider Crossgate http://www.sap.com/index.epx#/news-reader/?articleID=17515. This was no great surprise, as SAP was already a part-owner and worked closely with the company in product development and marketing and sales activities. SAP will be able to offer a much better ePurchasing solution to customers when it has integrated Crossgate into its business, because supplier connectivity is currently a significant weakness. As I’ve written before (So Where Were The Best Run Businesses Then?), many SRM implementations rely on suppliers manually downloading PO from supplier portals or manually extracting them from emails and rekeying the data into their own systems. Not only does this cost the suppliers lots of money, it creates delays and errors that discourage users from adopting SRM.

SAP doesn’t intend to use Crossgate only for transactional processes; it also wants to develop support for wider collaboration between its customers and their supply chain partners, both upstream and downstream. That’s a sound objective, although not an easy one for SAP to achieve, because its core competence is in rigidly structured internal processes and it hasn’t done a good job to date with unstructured processes, nor with ones that go outside the enterprise’s four walls. Buyers who think they can force suppliers to comply with their edicts, just like employees do, soon end up wondering why no-one is using their ePurchasing solution.

What does the acquisition mean for sourcing professionals who are wondering where Crossgate or its competitors fit into their application strategy? My take:

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Driving Business Excellence With Formal, Global Networks

Leslie Owens

Perhaps no one understands better than Dan Ranta, Director of Knowledge Sharing at ConocoPhillips, that the challenge of sharing knowledge is very real — while the potential payoff can be large. Seven years ago, ConocoPhillips launched a large initiative to create internal communities of practice that would enhance knowledge sharing within the firm. With operations in more than 30 countries, encompassing job sites often in remote locations, the international energy company knew that to continue on its success trajectory, it needed to rapidly and effectively harness the knowledge of its highly skilled but geographically distributed workforce.

Today, the ConocoPhillips' knowledge-sharing program — built upon 150 global "networks of excellence" — is ranked as best-in-class across industries, and has documented hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated cash flow from its start in 2004 to the present. To learn more about how firms can drive business excellence with formal, global networks, I spoke with Dan in preparation for his keynote this week at Forrester’s Content & Collaboration Forum.

1) Can you explain the reasoning behind the proactive and reactive components of your networks of excellence?

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Despite Economic Problems, Tech Market Will Continue To Grow In 2011 And 2012

Andrew Bartels

As readers of my blog will remember, we were all ready to publish our mid-2011 update to our global economy report (see July 28, 2011, "Forrester Will Lower Its Tech Market Forecast By One-to-Two Percentage Points, Depending On Federal Debt Ceiling Outcome") when the US deficit ceiling crisis, renewal of the European debt crisis, and other developments raised questions about the strength of the economic recovery. Given the deterioration in the economic outlook, we stopped publication to rework our forecast to reflect those changes. The delay did have a some side benefits, including getting Q2 tech market data for Canada, adjusting our US data on computer equipment, communications, and equipment for Bureau of Economic Affairs revisions, incorporating new data sources for our US projections for IT consulting and outsourcing services, and taking advantage of the better data on Australia, China, India, and Japan from Forrester's acquisition of Springboard.

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Announcing The Winners Of The 2011 InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards

Alex Cullen

Enterprise Architecture is a challenged role in IT. While more than 50% of all IT shops – and all large IT shops (greater than $100M budget) – have an EA practice in some form, most EA teams struggle with defining a mission that is relevant to their business and executing on this mission to produce the benefits their business needs. This struggle leads to frequent re-organizations, struggles for credibility and influence, and often an EA focus on the low-hanging fruit of technology standardization. 

But this is changing. 

Last year, Forrester teamed up with InfoWorld to select five EA programs that were having a measurable impact on their businesses. Our purpose for this awards program was to spotlight highly effective programs that embodied practices that we could all learn from. We found EA programs that were producing results ranging from saving millions of dollars per year in IT expenditures, to guiding IT transformation into business partners, to guiding business planning. 

Today we announced the winners of the 2011 InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards. We set out to identify five leading organizations, just like we did last year. But our practitioner judges – last year’s winners – decided that due to the quality of so many submissions, they had to identify six:

  • American Express, for how it uses reference architecture and technologies road maps;
  • Bayer HealthCare, for how it approaches EA management in a complex organization;
  • First Data Corporation, for its buildout of a global EA function to drive efficiency, simplicity, cost effectiveness, and agility;
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Netflix: Can A Company Really Be This Inept And Succeed?

Nigel Fenwick

NetflixIf you thought Netflix handled its earlier price increase badly, just wait till you hear the complaints about its latest move. In a letter to subscribers sent today, Reed Hastings, Netflix Co-Founder and CEO, opens with:

“It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes.” – Hmm, perhaps a little bit of an understatement! (Read the full text at the end of this post.)

So members like me might be lulled into the false impression that this letter was going to be an apology in an attempt to smooth things over. Boy, was I wrong. Instead Hastings goes on to say the following (my paraphrasing, not his):

  • Because you are such a good customer, renting both DVDs and streaming, we’re going to degrade your service.
  • We know you like the fact that you can easily move movies between your online queue and your instant queue, which is why we’re going to stop you from doing that.
  • We know you liked the fact that a movie in your DVD queue is added to your instant queue automatically when it becomes available for instant viewing – so we’re going to stop allowing that.
  • We recognize that our website, with its easy-to-use features is one of the reasons you use our service, so we decided to give you twice the benefit by breaking it into two websites and asking you to use the two sites instead of one.
  • We won’t be increasing our prices as a result of reducing your service levels – we already did that.
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Intel Developer Forum (IDF) - Cloud. And Cloud, Cloud, Cloud. Oh, Yes, Did I Mention “Cloud”?

Richard Fichera

I just attended IDF and I’ve got to say, Intel has certainly gotten the cloud message. Almost everything is centered on clouds, from the high-concept keynotes to the presentations on low-level infrastructure, although if you dug deep enough there was content for general old-fashioned data center and I&O professionals. Some highlights:

Chips and processors and low-level hardware

Intel is, after all, a semiconductor foundry, and despite their expertise in design, their true core competitive advantage is their foundry operations – even their competitors grudgingly acknowledge that they can manufacture semiconductors better than anyone else on the planet. As a consequence, showing off new designs and processes is always front and center at IDF, and this year was no exception. Last year it was Sandy Bridge, the 22nm shrink of the 32nm Westmere (although Sandy Bridge also incorporated some significant design improvements). This year it was Ivy Bridge, the 22nm “tick” of the Intel “tick-tock” design cycle. Ivy Bridge is the new 22nm architecture and seems to have inherited Intel’s recent focus on power efficiency, with major improvements beyond the already solid advantages of their 22nm process, including deeper P-States and the ability to actually shut down parts of the chip when it is idle. While they did not discuss the server variants in any detail, the desktop versions will get an entirely new integrated graphics processor which they are obviously hoping will blunt AMD’s resurgence in client systems. On the server side, if I were to guess, I would guess more cores and larger caches, along with increased support for virtualization of I/O beyond what they currently have.

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The Five Tenets Of Business Processes In 2020

Craig Le Clair

We are seeing  firms migrating away from traditional IT-centric approaches. Why? They have to: Customers are now empowered — and companies are not. So you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • How long will packaged apps survive?
  • How long will it take before customer engagement wins out over the desire to control?
  • How do enterprises prepare to move to a federated deployment approach to meet process goals?

Federated deployments grab best-of-breed functions from the app Internet and SaaS-based solutions and use emerging technologies like dynamic case management, analytics, and collaboration. Figuring out how to implement these types of deployments to meet the business process needs companies will have in 2020 requires Big Thinking — and we will be addressing this as one of the main topics of discussion at Forrester’s Business Process Forum next week in Boston.

RIM's Tablet Night Terrors

Ted Schadler

Picture this. There's a hot new market adjacent to one you've dominated for years. You have the design team, engineering staff, retail distribution, and corporate buyer relations to build and sell that adjacent product. (Okay, so you don't have all the software skills or platforms you need, but you can buy those, right?)

Wouldn't you go for it? I mean, bet the business on it? Sure you would.

Now picture this. You ship a v0.7 tablet and call it done. You ship 500,000 units to corporate resellers and consumer retailers. And you talk about the tablet ecosystem that you have and are building. Then, just one quarter later, you ship 200,000 units to your channel. (Remember that Apple sold, not shipped, sold, 9.25 million iPads in the same period.)

Wouldn't that give you night terrors?

Here's what RIM needs to do to wake up and face reality:

  1. Scale back expectations and promises and revert to its natural market: highly secure, regulated, and locked down industries. Defense comes to mind. This will reset expectations and get the media bull's-eye off your back.
  2. Pull out all the stops to get QNX secured, BES-controlled, and deployed on a new generation of touchscreen phones. This will plug your product holes.
  3. Get the Android compatibility down cold. Don't replicate that ecosystem of content and apps. Embrace it. This will let you appeal to the consumer inside every employee.
  4. Make BES the center of your commercial universe. Deliver more connectors to SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, the cloud, and beyond that Apple or Google. This will attract corporate developers and buyers.

With those steps in motion, the night terrors will subside and a more rational, though smaller, company will emerge into the light of 2012.

An Early Look at Windows Server 8 – Can You Say Cloud?

Richard Fichera

Well, maybe everybody is saying “cloud” these days, but my first impression of Microsoft Windows Server 8 (not the final name) is that Microsoft has been listening very closely to what customers want from an OS that can support both public and private enterprise cloud implementations. And most importantly, the things that they have built into WS8 for “clouds” also look like they make life easier for plain old enterprise IT.

Microsoft appears to have focused its efforts on several key themes, all of which benefit legacy IT architectures as well as emerging clouds:

  • Management, migration and recovery of VMs in a multi-system domain – Major improvements in Hyper-V and management capabilities mean that I&O groups can easily build multi-system clusters of WS8 servers, and easily migrate VMs across system boundaries. Muplitle systems can be clustered with Fibre Channel, making it easier to implement high-performance clusters.
  • Multi-tenancy – A host of features, primarily around management and role-based delegation that make it easier and more secure to implement multi-tenant VM clouds.
  • Recovery and resiliency – Microsoft claims that they can failover VMs from one machine to another in 25 seconds, a very impressive number indeed. While vendor performance claims are always like EPA mileage – you are guaranteed never to exceed this number – this is an impressive claim and a major capability, with major implications for HA architecture in any data center.
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Making Change Management Work: Three Practitioners Offer Some Guidance

Claire Schooley

Change management from the people perspective is too often a forgotten component of business process transformation. Organizations focus on getting the new processes right and putting technology components in place — but helping people who will implement the new processes accept and even embrace change is usually an afterthought. Some organizations — small and medium-size businesses as well as global enterprise organizations — have realized how critical the people piece is to success and have addressed the people issue early on in the change process.

At Forrester’s Business Process Forum, we will bring together some of these practitioners that have made change management work in their organizations. We recently caught up with three of them: Tom Coleman, Chief Information and Process Officer, Sloan Valve Company; Wade Wallinger, GM Value Chain Optimization COE , Chevron; and Ronald Sharpe, Change Management Lead, Business Excellence Team, Cabela’s.

Q: How did you get your change management program started?

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