Earlier this week, Sun Microsystems announced that its Project Blackbox was now a commercially shipping product. I have to confess that when they first told me about this effort I saw it as a nice showcase innovation — something they could use to demonstrate how densely racks could be configured and how energy efficient their products were. They could drive it from city to city for in-person demonstrations. Nice marketing idea. But I didn’t see the practicality to real enterprise data centers. Who’d be willing to buy a container and park it outside their data center? Yeah, that’s secure.
On January 16, 2008, Oracle announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Captovation, a provider of document capture solutions. With Captovation, Oracle extends its solution for ECM for transactional content by adding a strong capture solution. The acquisition is expected to close by February 2008. Captovation already has joint customers with Oracle/Stellent and had actually partnered with Optica even prior to Stellent's acquisition. In this sense the acquisition is not surprising. "Oracle Capture" will be the new product brand.
For Oracle customers, it makes a more complete ECM solution, one that can address paper capture for invoice processing for ERP applications or more convincingly incorporate unstructured content for Siebel. For Captovation customers it means increased R&D, investment protection, and access to Oracle's global support and services.
HP’s plans to acquire Exstream combined with EMC’s intent to buy Document Sciences demonstrates that output management for transactional content is becoming critical to many large organizations. But how do you rationalize these two acquisitions? First let’s look at EMC. They add to their consistently improving transactional content assets. Whether it involves invoice processing, account notices and policies for insurance, or new account opening, DOM gives EMC more complete support of the document lifecycle. More to the point, Forrester’s predicted growth in Interactive DOM is very important for the major ECM players. Interactive DOM makes more use of ECM then Structured applications that are essentially batch processes with little human involvement. Interactive applications need human-centric business process management to help author, store, version, and manage content dynamically. EMC can now link their broad ECM platform to Document Sciences for this emerging area.
This morning Microsoft announced a $44.6b bid to acquire Yahoo! Driven largely to bolster Microsoft’s search and advertising business in order to better compete with Google, this move does have a few hidden gems that will impact enterprise IT environments. For insights into the consumer side of this story, see the post from Charlene Li and Shar Van Boskirk.
An article in January 25, 2008 Chronicle of Higher Education really caused me to sit back and reflect. The author, a university professor, questions the contradiction of conference travel thousands of miles away to hear or give presentations in light of global warming, with air travel one of the greatest polluters. Academics as well as business people travel all the time. In many cases it's critical for executives to gather for multiple-day meetings that address an issue or for academics to conduct research and interact with colleagues. But these are often the exceptions. People travel all the time to one-day meetings or even two-to-three-hour events and then turn around and come home. In fact I fall into this category. Recently I traveled from California to Amsterdam to deliver a half-hour speech, have Q&A, and do a five-minute Website video. At the after-party, I had an opportunity to meet and make connections and learn lots. It was great! I loved it! And that's why people travel. . . as social animals we like the face-to-face interaction, the new environment, or the invigorating atmosphere of a new culture. But is that always enough reason (as the author states) to "put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than do 110,000 Chadians or 11,000 Indians in an entire year?" But patterns are hard to change, especially when we like and get additional value from traveling. After the speech I didn't turn around and come home but traveled on to Belgium and Germany (by fast train) to see friends and deepen those cross-cultural human bonds that are so important in our challenging world today.
The media yesterday (Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Economist, etc.) were all over 31-year-old Jérôme Kerviel, the trader at France’s Société Générale who has apparently confessed to fraudulent trades resulting in an estimated loss of roughly $7.2 billion.
In further coverage, we hear that the bank has apologized to share holders, filed legal claims against Kerviel, and promised the public that the incident does not suggest any larger issues with the company’s risk management. The Wall Street Journal however, follows up with a story questioning the effectiveness of regulatory oversight that can let something like this transpire despite Société Générale’s claims that controls were adequately tested and did not fail.
by Tim Sheedy
A factor that tends to be considered when choosing an IT service provider is how many project failures they have had – particularly when some of those failures are large, costly, and well-publicized. And if that is not a formal consideration, project failures are often on the mind of sourcing organizations. In fact many companies that I have spoken with over the past 12 months have actively excluded some players from their short list due to their previous failures. These types of metrics tend to work against the large players as they have more contracts and therefore, if they run at an industry average failure rate, they are most likely to have more failures. IBM, as the company that probably does the most IT projects, has the most failures (assuming that their failure rate is the same as that of their competitors) – and this works against them. I have actually heard people say that they would never have IBM in as an IT services partner because of the fact that so many of their projects fail. And this does not only refer to IBM – you could switch in any large IT services vendor’s name here as the sheer number of projects they work on means that they are likely to have more problems too (as very few IT projects go smoothly). If the failure rate is 1 in 10 (and this is just a guess) then a vendor that has undertaken 1,000 projects will have more failures than one who has undertaken 10…
In my humble opinion, focusing on failures or project problems is a short-sighted view. Project failure is rarely the fault of your IT services partner – even if it is, it is your fault for not managing the process effectively and pulling them up before it turns into a failure. The only time when the partner is to blame is when they promise to do something that simply is not possible – and again, they are probably just responding to your impossible requests.
By Matt Brown, Erica Driver, Mike Gilpin, Kyle McNabb, Rob Koplowitz, and Colin Teubner
We’ve been getting lots of questions about what the Oracle/BEA acquisition means in the Information Workplace platforms market. Here’s our take:
Oracle has made assurances to BEA customers
Oracle has assured us that they will be very mindful of protecting the interests of existing BEA customers, just as they have been for customers of Peoplesoft and Siebel – and we find their assurances credible. It’s not in Oracle’s interest to aggravate these customers, and in many cases BEA customers are already Oracle customers, anyway.
There are six main areas of synergy we’ve identified: