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... blogging on what is happening in enterprise software, with a focus on Future of Work and Next Generation Applications, sparkled with occasional musings on the the state of the industry and outlooks where we are heading.

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    ADP just announced that it will separate itself from the ‘other’ part of its business, the less know dealer business the company has been operating and building through the decades.


    So let’s dissect and comment on the press release with a HCM point of view:

    ROSELAND, N.J., April 10, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ADP® (Nasdaq:ADP), a leading global provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions, today announced that the company's Board of Directors has approved a plan to separate the Dealer Services business into an independent publicly traded company through a tax-free spin-off of 100% of Dealer Services to ADP shareholders.

    MyPOV – The question has to be much less Why? than Why only now? ADP could have done this move many years ago. Certainly running a smaller part of a business can be a distraction for executives. But it makes it also harder to evaluate a company on the capital markets. ADP already is a ‘unique’ enterprise in the HCM space alone (see my takeaways of the ADP Meeting of the Minds conference here) – as there is no other company with a comparable portfolio. So not only enterprises shortlist HCM vendors and want to see a few comparable options, but also investors compare multiple companies before they make their investment decisions. With this move ADP becomes more a HCM company than ever before, so in my view a good move.

    "Consistent with our strategy to grow our position as a global provider of HCM solutions, we have concluded that the separation of Dealer Services will allow both companies to focus on their respective industries," said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer, ADP. "The Dealer Services business remains attractive in terms of long-term growth opportunities; however, we believe this transaction will benefit ADP's shareholders by allowing each management team to better focus on its own business and strategic opportunities. ADP's ongoing efforts and commitment will be focused on executing against our global HCM strategy. As we deliver against this commitment, our goal remains driving consistent and sustainable profitable revenue growth and return of capital to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases."

    MyPOV – Rodrigues basically describes that separating the two businesses will increase shareholder value, as the expectation is that the capital markets will value both business higher in the longer term. Operationally speaking this means that the synergies between the two areas of the business are negligible. ADP now needs to address potential concerns of customers that are clients of both businesses – but that should not be a challenge of significance. But it also means that the old ADP did not want to go into potential Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) business for dealers, e.g. extending employment based credit services to dealers. On the flipside of the argument ADP can now address much broader potential client portfolio, as we know from the recent user conference briefings that ADP has substantial DaaS ambitions.

    Dealer Services is a leading global provider of retail and digital marketing solutions to automotive retailers and manufacturers. The global automotive market is the strongest it has been since 2007, and the volume of U.S. vehicle sales continues its recovery to pre-crisis levels. This recovery, combined with Dealer Services' global breadth and depth of service offerings, makes it the appropriate time to establish this business as its own stand-alone public company. With revenues approaching $2 billion annually, most of which is recurring in nature, along with good profitability and strong cash flows, we expect Dealer Services will be an independent public company with solid long-term growth prospects. Steve Anenen and Al Nietzel, the current president and chief financial officer, respectively, of Dealer Services, will assume the roles of chief executive officer and chief financial officer of the new standalone company.

    MyPOV – The Dealer Services division was largely setup as a company inside the company already. With almost $2 billion in revenue we see one of the larger software companies being created with the stroke of a pen. Quite a market move overall, if you consider how many software companies are chasing the first billion in revenue. Nice to start out with two.

    In conjunction with the spin-off ADP expects to receive in a tax-free manner at least $700 million, which proceeds ADP plans to return to its shareholders through share repurchases after the spin-off is complete, depending on market conditions. Following the spin-off, ADP expects to maintain its current $0.48 quarterly cash dividend per share. Over the medium to long term, ADP intends to return to its pre-separation target dividend payout ratio of 55% to 60%, while keeping intact ADP's 39 year track record of annual increases in its quarterly cash dividend, subject to approval by ADP's Board of Directors. The spin-off will be completed upon receipt of all required regulatory reviews and approvals. ADP expects to complete the separation in the early part of the fourth calendar quarter of 2014.
     […]

    MyPOV – (Not a financial analyst!) This reads – do not worry investor, you will keep getting your cash dividend, and we will use some of the proceeds to re-purchase shares. So two potential upsides for shareholders.

    Overall MyPOV

    A good move by ADP – similar like Ceridian separating its pay services from the HCM business last fall. More focus always helps – so good news for customers, as this should help the execution of the ambitious software agenda ADP has laid out earlier this week at their user conference (read more here). Even though the Dealer Services business was less than 20% than overall ADP revenue, taking care of the division and making sure the revenue would come in was might well have represented more than 20% of executive time. Spending this now available time on HCM can only result in an (even) more focused ADP. And that will help APD, its customers and make the HCM market a little more competitive. What’s not to like?

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    We attended the Ultimate Software user conference, UltiConnect, held over three days at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. With over 2000 attendees it was the largest user conference for Ultimate yet – and with that always comes a positive basic vibe. Both customers and employees are encouraged by seeing more attendees being there than in the year(s) before – always a good proof point of vendor success. And Ultimate just passed a revenue milestone with US$ 400M in revenue in its last financial year.



    My top 3 takeaways from the Day 1 keynote have been blogged already here– so let’s look at the additional takeaways from UltiConnect.

    A rich roadmap

    Ultimate is not shy of laying out an ambitious development agenda. The company already built a new recruiting module, first presented at the HR Tech show in fall of 2013 (my takeaways are here). Consequently a new Onboarding module is coming, key to keep the applicant and new employee experience consistent. As if not enough on the Talent Management side – Ultimate plans to ship a new Compensation Management module this year, too. 

    Roadmap slides as presented in the UltiConnect Product Keynote




    But Ultimate is not only operating on the sundeck – but is also going back to the HCM engine room with a revision of the employee / person model and the addition of a new person rules engine. And even one level deeper Ultimate will add additional cloud integration services, allowing customers to tie their Ultimate HCM product together with other cloud services. On that note it is key to account for Ultimate’s customization framework, too – which allows significant but robust configuration and customization of its implementations.

    Moreover Ultimate plans to expand its analytical capabilities with a high performer and high potential predictor, next to its already existing flight risk predictor. On the handheld product side Ultimate is adding time clock capability to the existing and acquired (with EmployTouch) capabilities of the Touchbase mobile device. Last but not least Ultimate accounts for the globalization trend with the addition of 40 localizations and more languages.


    More to come in 2015

    And Ultimate does not plan to slow down in 2015. On the Talent Management side Performance Management will be improved as well as Succession Management. The new Onboarding module of this year will receive global capabilities as well as the [Personnel] Developer module. By 2015 Ultimate should also have seen enough traction on its new Recruiting module to ship analytical capabilities for Sourcing and new hire predictors. 

    The Talent Gateway in UltiPro
    Additionally Ultimate plans to make new Workforce Management and Workforce Planning modules available next year. And the new employee / person model will be bolstered by new Organizational Management and Modelling capabilities.

    And last but not least the company plans to add additional localizations and new languages (Chinese being mentioned).

    New Onboarding

    We had the chance to take a look at the new Onboarding functionality and the module looks well designed, easy to use and most importantly in synch with the user experience of the recently release Recruiting module. That makes it a consistent user experience for new hires, which is certainly desirable. It was also encouraging to see more density in the HTML5 user interface, a trend we see overall in the industry and welcome as most of the early HTML5 user designs were featuring a lot whitespace and an excessive need of scroll navigation. 

    Screenshot of the new Onboarding Solution

    Needless to say the new Onboarding module features sequential navigation and guides the new hire through the necessary steps to onboard. Also not surprising the compliance / tax side is well covered with Ultimate having a strong DNA on the payroll and compliance side. Ultimate is still getting feedback from usability testing with clients so the module is not fully finalized, but will ship later in the year. 


    Real Analytics make a difference

    It was very valuable to get an insight into the work that Ultimate is doing on the analytics side. First of all it's key to state that Ultimate is providing real analytics - those analytics who do something or at least suggest something (the current offerings are mainly in this area). With the current retention predictor Ultimate has catered to the still popular topic of flight risk. It is good to see that Ultimate tests the prediction quality and keeps tuning the models (not disclosed) behind the predictor. Not surprisingly Ultimate is expanding the data its models will run on - a good step for a young analytical model. 




    As a next analytical model Ultimate is adding a high performance predictor, which complements the retention predictor nicely - as enterprises may not worry too much about low performers exhibiting a high flight risk. 


    New Technology Stack moves in the right direction

    In parallel to the rich functionality agenda, Ultimate has also embarked into the creation and adoption of a new technology stack. The new Recruiting module has already been built on this new technology stack. So Ultimate has not only provided the stack and has it working, it also has mastered the probably larger challenge of operating old and new stacks in parallel while maintaining a seamless user experience. And while the details of the new technology stack were under NDA, both database, application and user interface technology choices are robust and should deliver well. 




    As with all HCM vendors we see a departure from proprietary technology stacks to more open source technology components – and Ultimate is no exception here.
     

    Usability, usability, … key for successful HCM

    Ultimate is also not resting on the so important usability aspect of HCM software. You can get architecture, functionality right, sell and implement customers – but if user adoption is weak or slow – not only vendors are in trouble – but also the executives who made the buying decision for that vendor. 


    The new UltiPro homepage

    With its people first DNA Ultimate is making a strong push for persona driven usability approach. It is good to see the company equally embracing an agile, iterative approach to UI development, allowing customers to test drive the new UI concepts and provide direct feedback. The familiar approach seen in the industry of here it is, use it - is mostly an approach from the past. In conversations with customer it was clear, that they value the approach and are thrilled to be part of the process. A good place to be.

    Excited and loyal customers are an Ultimate Asset

    The other key impression for me was how loyal (almost devoted) Ultimate customers are to the vendor and to the company values. Usually you find more engaged customers visit user conferences, but UltiConnect had a higher portion of highly satisfied and motivated customers than other conferences we have attended in the last quarters. Maybe it’s the longer term perspective that Scott Scherr takes to building an organically grown company, and the sincerity and tradition to people first values. For example, very few companies pay 100% of benefits for their employees.

    Implications, Implications

    Implications for Ultimate customers

    It is always exciting to see the vendor of choice making progress and innovating at a rate like Ultimate is. But that should not carry customers away, they still need to look at the cost benefit equation of adding new modules or countries to a roll out plan. Customers should also take advantage of the new sandbox capabilities that Ultimate has added – it is always good to see software, and maybe even use it on small but representative scale – before customers decide to implement (and pay for) it. Customers should have an eye on the user experience remaining consistent and if inclined, should participate actively in the usability projects Ultimate is undertaking. When Ultimate will replace existing functionality on its new technology stack, customers need to make sure that key functionality they have been using and continue to use, is available on the new platform.

    Implications for Ultimate competitors

    Ultimate makes no secret of the fact that it invests consistently over 20% of revenue into R&D.. That allows for an ambitious roadmap that competitors need to try to match. We also see Ultimate with an aggressive sharing of the roadmap (as well as Ceridian, that recently shared till 2016), forcing competitors to start providing a longer term outlook, too. Competitors may not like that, but customers (and prospects) certainly value the longer term perspective (and commitment), which allows them to align their internal HCM rollout plans and transformation needs with the product roadmap of their vendor.

    Implications for Ultimate

    Ultimate is off to a good start to build out its next generation offerings. It is now execution time and key to keep the momentum going to fill the ambitious next years with highly functional and working software. The company should maintain its eye on differentiation as it has done with the new Recruiting module. Easier said than done, especially when the clock is ticking – and we will see with the next deliverables if Ultimate cannot only deliver new – but also differentiated new software functionality in the HCM automation arena.

    MyPOV

    A great user conference for Ultimate. Very loyal customers were a last important observation – I have never seen so many customers wearing the conference shirt ever, and on a closing day. Nonetheless great advertising and customers willing to wear a vendor shirt on a travel day is certainly a strong loyalty testament.

    Ultimate now needs to show it can deliver quality product for the next quarters to come – not only from a technical, but also a differentiation perspective. It will also have to address the Learning component of Talent Management (right now partnering e.g. with Infor) and some components in its functional landscape that maybe coming of age in the not too distant future.

    But Ultimate is off to a good start and now needs to deliver consistent intermediary times for the long race with a modern, user base engaging and functional complete suite across Core HR, Payroll, Talent Management and Workforce Management.

    ----------------------

    More on Ultimate from me:

    • First Take – 3 Key Takeaways from Ultimate’s UltiConnect Conference Day 1 keynote – read here.


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    We had the opportunity to attend the Infor Innovation Summit in the company’s beautiful Manhattan headquarters. It was impressive to see that the complete management team took the time to spend the day with a group of 50 or so analysts.



    We learnt a lot from Infor – as expected – and as pretty much nothing except for sensitive customer information was under NDA – we had a lively tweet stream collected here.

    Here are my top 3 takeaways from the fully packed day:

    • From Soho to Gramercy Park – A little more than a year ago, Infor presented a new user interface paradigm called Soho – after the hip Manhattan neighborhood. It was the first result of its acquisition of design agency Hook & Look and was a promising new user interface. Contrary to sceptics expectation, Infor managed to bring this user interface to all of their go-forward products – making Infor’s products one of the most consistent user interfacince experiences in the industry. Interestingly Infor is not resting on its laurels and the creative team has come up with a new paradigm – code named Gramercy Park (which, as I learnt, is an even more desirable New York neighborhood). And the new paradigm looks improved to the current Soho paradigm, it’s a responsive design (no surprise) – and operating on very high fidelity across devices. And UI techniques like progressive reduction have not been seen in enterprise software (at least by me) – so far. I was also impressed by the normalization of screen types, a technique that not only helps product development, but also the user as interaction becomes consistent and the application behaves as expected. So credit goes to Infor not to tune Soho with little improvement steps – but to go to the next level of user interface. Few vendors innovate on a new UI after a year or so already.

    Picture of the new Infor Gramercy Park UI paradigm

    • HCM leads– As expected the most complete and advanced major automation block (Finance, HR, Purchasing, Manufacturing, and CRM) is Infor HCM. With assets from Infor, Lawson, Hansen, the recent acquisition of Peopleanswers – it is not only a complete HCM suite, but it also has a consistent user interface – one of the few complete HCM suites to feature that. Behind the scenes though a lot of work remains, Infor has largely solved the integration via ION. But again, instead of taking a breath, Infor is actively re-writing key HCM automation functionality on its go to technology stack. Adding more science – as Infor calls it – to the HCM process is a generally welcome addition and differentiating move to HCM. This summer Infor will ship its CloudSuite Corporate product – which is formed by Financials and HCM and will see its HCM suite fully run in production on AWS. A true innovation in the enterprise software space – as no other vendor (to my knowledge) offers to run production of a major automation block on a public cloud service. Even though not all functionality is harmonized and unified, Infor still deserves credit for this innovative move.
    Picture of Infor's HCM Marketecture
    • From (Microsoft) to Open Source and AWS – As with all vendors with acquired portfolios, Infor has accumulated a staple of technology stacks over time. The most recent consolidation (about 3 or so years ago) was around a Microsoft centric technology stack. But consolidating on a single technology stack is not trivial and Infor did not conclude that process. Instead of that Infor has re-calibrated its technology stack strategy with a focus on open source. COO Murphy ran us through the pro and cons on the database side – and in this area – as in all others – the open source option win out –in this case PostgreSQL / EnterpriseDB. With a JBoss / Tomcat based presentation and application tier and utilization of either AWS for cloud or RedHat for on premises installs, Infor has completely moved to open source on the technology stack side.

    Picture of ION capabilites
    • At the heart of Infor’s technology stack is ION, which was introduced the other year and started out as a file broker (maybe a not giving it enough credit) that allows Infor and 3rd party applications to declare and transfer data feeds in a XML format. Infor was shrewd to not position ION as more – but now it is becoming more, gaining the capability to also invoke APIs on the data it transports. Worth to mention that these APIs will be able to be invoked both locally and remotely. And this makes a lot of sense for Infor, given the expected hybrid deployment scenario of their customers. But it also means that Infor no longer has to replicate functionality, but can start putting functionality into one place and maintain it in one place only, too. This next release of ION is supposed to ship summer this year. And with that ION becomes more than ever the key integration technology for Infor customers. 


    MyPOV

    Good progress by Infor. Building a new technology stack, re-writing core applications is not an easy feat while having 70k customers – even if you are a large startup (as Infor often refers to themselves). And Infor prides itself of going the last mile for their customers, building deep vertical – even microvertical functionality, that very few to no competitors build out. Certainly not (for now) Infor’s larger competitors SAP and Oracle. That behind the scenes not everything is yet as clean as it should be is largely glossed over by innovative and consistent UIs and with the ION capability to connect systems data – and soon also functionality.

    My largest concern for Infor remains that it will step into the too custom, too vertical trap – but the vendor’s executives are aware of that risk and say they have an eye on it. Their line of defense are customer advisory boards and extensive vertical experience inside of Infor.

    Finally Infor deserves credit to move production instances to AWS, which helps the company to save substantial CAPEX (it hopefully puts into more product R&D). We will see how that works out in the near future – but in the meantime kudos to Infor.


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    You can find a Storify Tweet collection here.


    More of Infor from me:


    • Market Move - Infor runs CloudSuite on AWS - Inflection Point or hot air balloon - read here.
    • Inforum 2013 – Takeaways from the Keynote – Day 2 – read here.
    • Infor’s bet on microverticals – the good, the bad the ugly – read here


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    On the heels of ADPs Meeting of the Minds user conference last week I had the chance to visit ADP’s brand new innovation lab in the trendy Manhattan Chelsea neighborhood. As a matter of fact it is so new, that the build out is still underway. ADP is for now using the previous tenant’s setup while work on one floor is completed (right now a hard hat area) and then will build out the other floor as planned. Credit goes to the new ADP that let me visit the center as work is in progress – a positive sign of a new level of transparency with the company.


    So when you are – rightly or wrongly – perceived as a vendor that struggles with innovation – what do you do? A proven page from the corporate strategy playbook is to open up an innovation center or a lab in places of high innovation density. Silicon Valley used to be the location, but increasingly vendors chose the up and coming Manhattan area, that is popular with young professionals and offers a wide mix of previous employer background.

    So ADP decided to do the same, picked a historic landmark building, rented first one then two floors (as hiring was revised up) and is now tackling the challenges of New York real estate development. But that does not faze the current 80+ employees working on the new ADP user experience.

    So here are a few of the most notable takeaways from my visit:

      • Deciding to have an innovation lab is easy – funding it when you are ADP is, too – but then how to design and divide the space is a creative challenge. Good to see ADP partnered with proven architect bureau Gensler, and even better to see that ADP challenged them to create something special, even for them.
         
      • There is a strong emphasis in the floor layout to not only collaborate, but get work done as an individual. Many innovation labs cater primarily to foster collaboration, ADP is also expecting employees to be able to perform significant quiet tasks. And that is maybe needed as ADP plans to collocate not only the creative employees, but also those who will have to do the actual coding of the new technologies.
         
      • Obviously ADP will use the center to host clients and prospects so one floor offers a multi-functional area, that can host up to 150 attendees, but if not used can be transformed in smaller workgroup areas. And in a common move of innovation centers, ADP also plans to become part of the New York creative community, hosting various community meetings and gatherings. Not only the meeting area but also the planned roof area will make ADP’s innovation center a popular location for events of this nature.
         
      • It was nice to see that ADP will conserve the nature of the 130+ year old building, preserving as much as possible of the original wall structure to the original wooden floors. High tech meets late 19th century.

      • And ADP is already doing productive work at the center. We had the chance to see some usability testing being done on the new Benefits layout that was presented at Meeting of the Minds last week. And while already a very good user interface, it is good to see that ADP is not resting on its laurels and continuously working on further improving the design. We also had the chance to see some UI design work being done around the Pay Lens, centered around bringing the paycheck to life. And lastly we saw work in the employee profile area, a key asset of any HCM system, as being one of the most frequented properties in the overall user interface. 
      • As a testament to the rich talent pool New York offers, ADP recruited usability experts with such diverse backgrounds as advertising agencies, consumer devices, defense and financial services.


      Not a garage in Palo Alto - but an equal sotto voce start in Chelsea


      Finally it was good to see that ADP has developed its own design methodology for its usability projects, and is using all the proven best practices of recent user experience design. So the very attractive new user interface is no coincidence, but the result of method based hard work. The good news for ADP customers – it looks like a repeatable process, so more good work should be coming down the product innovation pipeline.


      MyPOV

      I wrote before that it’s not your grandfather’s ADP and the Chelsea Innovation Lab is another key asset for the company on the overall strategy to be a major player in the HCM software market. ADP is doing all the right things to establish a productive innovation center, and the early work results are more than promising, but also validating the approach as the right step for the company.

      Can’t wait to visit when the Innovation Lab is officially opened.



      -------------------

      More on ADP

      • News Analysis - ADP announces Spin-Off plans for Dealer Services, sharpens ADP's focus on HCM - read here.
      • Event Report - ADP's Meeting of the Minds - ADP has made up its mind (almost) - customers not yet - read here.
      • First take - 3 Key Takeaways from ADP's Meeting of the Minds Conference Day 1 Keynote - read here.
      • ADP innovates with with verve and good timing – read here.


      And  more on the importance of the paycheck for HCM:

      • Could the paycheck re-invent HCM – yes it can – read here.
      • And suddenly, payroll matters again! Read here.

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      With one of the leading recruiting conferences starting this week, it was time to spend some thought cycles on the future of recruiting. And the purpose of this blog post is purposefully slanted in the direction of provoking some new thoughts on the subject – more than nailing what will happen in 2015 or even easier what is today’s state of the industry.



      If you step away for a moment from the rush of multiple releases per year and look over the last decades on what has happened in enterprise applications overall, a major trend becomes pretty clear: 

      Enterprise automation is all about giving control in the hands of the business (end) users. 
      Starting from the reporting punch cards ceremoniously handed by (then) IT gods half a century ago (remember they wore white lab coats then) to obtain their weekly report – it’s been all about getting the business user into a position where they can get the information needed and execute the processes required to do their jobs. The area where this is most evident in the HCM arena is the functionality around HR Core processes – almost all driven by the end user. Rarely a member of the HR department will anymore do data entry around a single employee – something that was a staple of HR department activity maybe even 20 years ago.

      And while many end users complain about the additional work loaded on them by self-service functions, at the end of the day they empower end users to enter and process information when they want and please to. Instead of walking over to the HR department, getting and filling out a form and then hoping for the real world to accurately reflect the status change – users can now fire up their devices and - apart from the occasional system downtime - execute their core HR transaction when it works for them. And it’s not a one way street – users can go back and see that this address change has really gone through in the system.

      Equally managers have seen self-service trends, too. First of all they are employees, too – and do all related activities under employee self-service. And then they have managerial duties, mostly approvals, but also budgeting and planning functions.

      When it comes to recruiting – for now – it pretty stays in this realm, too. Only that for current common practice - recruiting is probably the area where a manager does the most data entry for an HR related process. Creating and filling out requisition forms – no matter how much they get defaulted – is probably the most tedious data entry job for managers… and with that not popular.

      On the recruiter side there is an arms race raging, with new vendors coming in the market and using new technologies like social media, analytics, BigData and video to give recruiters the leg up over their competition. And let’s not forget that recruiting is the most measured job in HR, many recruiters understand themselves more as sales professionals than HR practitioners. .Recruiting is the one HR job where a practitioner can be fired for nonperformance as a matter of a few months… and as such recruiters always look for the best tool to give them an advantage to recruit talent better than their peers in house and in the competition.

      So what will happen when self-service transforms recruiting practices?

      Here are some of the functional building blocks next generation recruiting need to have – powered by self-service:
      • Continuous talent monitoring - Imagine if a manager could continuously monitor the talent of their teams. No longer the “that’s it moment” looking for outside talent - often delayed by the work to get a requisition into the relevant systems. No longer opening a requisition because the headcount was approved, but because talent should be monitored continuously.
         
      • One big talent pool - Systems will consider inside and outside talent to the enterprise. Including advanced and accelerated training of employees, considering campus recruiting, skill shifts and cost change in external talent pools, acknowledging succession management considerations etc.
         
      • Requisitions no longer exist - Managers should always see – for each position in their team – which talent is available inside and outside their enterprise for each team position. Include internal global talent in the search.
         
      • (Real) analytics tell when to hire (or not) -Have software help with picking the best candidates, start the whole candidate relationship management (the other ‘CRM’) process, checking which candidates said no last time, but may be say yes this time around etc.
         
      • Continuous talent management - Given the cost of hiring an employee the manager should see what training and learning opportunities are available to bring an employee and the overall team in better shape.
         
      • Automated onboarding -If the hire is made – trigger all onboarding processes including background checks etc. – and allow the new hire to self-onboard, including benefits enrollment etc.
         
      • Complete Automation - A resignation will start a talent search. A termination will have had a precursor of a talent search. A transfer-in will trigger a transfer-out or termination. And so on.
         
      • A talent depth chart - Similar like professional sports teams and some military units have a depth chart, managers will have a talent depth chart, telling them what to do when the number one talent is no longer available or when it is time to re-prioritize the depth chart etc.
         
      • Full consideration of the P - New hires or transfers into teams need to fit – and for that personality and psychological factors need to become part of the recruiting decision. But not just individual candidate characteristics, but also team dynamics on how a candidate fits into the new team, is compatible to work with peers, customers and superiors.
         
      • Full cost considerations - Managers will be able to see the full cost aspect of recruiting scenarios – including cost to onboard, train and come up to speed. Knowing these costs should enable managers to make smarter hiring (or internal transfer and training) decisions. 

      Where does it all leave the recruiter?

      When above happens, it will be the end of the recruiters as we know them today. Does it mean the end of recruiting – certainly not – but recruiters will have to move away from the transactional aspect of recruiting – as the software will handle all of that and the managers will trigger these transactions – and become talent coaches, recruitment advisors, system specialists, algorithmic specialists – and maybe even software vendor employees.


      MyPOV

      As I mentioned in the onset – this post was more about being thought provoking than stating where the industry is today and / or will be soon in 2015. But self-service is a force to be reckoned with, and humans generally like to be empowers. If a manager can run talent for his team better and faster than dealing with the traditional recruiting setup of recruiters, sourcing, job sites etc. – we will see it – sooner than later. And ‘real’ predictive analytics become more powerful, science can be used to find the best candidates and they can be served to the decision maker, the hiring manager right away. Chime in on the comments.

      --------------

      More on Recruiting by me:

      • HRTech 2014 takeaways - Read here.
      • Why all the attention to recruiting? Read here.


      And  more on Payroll:

      • Could the paycheck re-invent HCM – yes it can – read here.
      • And suddenly, payroll matters again! Read here.

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      We have the opportunity to attend IBM’s Impact conference - happening in Las Vegas right now. The conference is well attended with over 9000 attendees.



      Here are my Top 3 Takeaways from today’s keynote:


      • Marketplaces are essential - In the new world of elastic resources and next generation requirements, customers want to make their licensing process more agile, too. That will more and more replace traditional marketing and sales efforts - in the ideal case seeing a business executive looking for a solution, purchasing and potentially even starting to deploy it. The infrastructure of choice for this transformation is a marketplace and it’s no surprise, that IBM launched its marketplace today. And it brings together a lot of IBM assets - starting with SoftLayer at the infrastructure, BlueMix at the platform and the IBM SaaS portfolio on the application level. More importantly IBM also opens the marketplace to partners and starting with 200 partners is a key milestone.

        In the IBM vision of the API economy - the marketplace is where commercial success will crystallize for this new way of configuring, delivering and consuming next generation applications. And certainly IBM has hit a user friendly interface to use the marketplace - but as the number of solutions grows we will have to see how the user interface will evolve. Behind the scenes it is the WebSphere (not mentioned a single time by name in the keynote) patterns which are key to automate loads, especially hybrid loads. As we have blogged before IBM is in the enviable situation that when early versions of the marketplace will err more in the direction of more professional service engagement - that is not a bad outcome for IBM.
      LeBlanc demos (live!) the market place

      • Mobile remains a priority - IBM spent considerable bandwidth in the keynote with Marie Wieck walking through mobile scenarios and presenting showcase customers and patners. Obviously IBM thinks the train for the mobilization of enterprise content has not really left the station and that IBM now has a viable offering with the SoftLayer, BlueMix and WorkLight offering. Wieck stressed the importance of agility and BigData as capabilities (Cloudant acquisition) - good ingredients and a differentiator for IBM mobile applications. Now IBM will have to show that it can create traction in a mix of mobilizing existing apps and as well building next generation apps.
      The new markeplace look & feell

      • Watson is IBM's higher ground - And last but not least it was Mike Rhodin to talk about Watson - and sharing the groundwork IBM is laying with exposing the Watson cognitive APIs to the developer community. IBM has seen a lot of success with its request for ideas, with the semifinalist being unveiled in the keynote. So good ecosystem blocking and tackling, the real value of Watson for the API economy lies in the monetization of cognitive APIs by IBM and the differentiation partners can achieve by using these APIs. It will be interesting to see in the next months how this will develop - in the meantime nobody can really reach 
      Rhodin talks Watson


      MyPOV

      A very good start of Impact for attendees and IBM. This may well have been the first time Robert Leblanc demoed software live in a keynote - for close to +20 minutes. A very powerful testament for the usability of the marketplace, a good demo topic - but also a symbol for the new IBM. With Impact being the former WebSphere conference - I would have expected a few more references to that product - most attendees are using WebSphere in production and IBM needs to be careful to connect status quo in its customer base with an attractive and quickly developing future product landscape. The customer base implicitly knows what is being used and what evolves to what - but sometimes explicit statements (and roadmaps - still MIA) help to chart an enterprises course of future investment. But in the meantime congrats to IBM for an innovation speed very few would have thought would be possible for this company. 


      More on IBM by me:
      • Another week and another Billion - this week it's a BlueMix Paas - read here
      • First take - IBM makes Connection - introduces the TalentSuite at IBM Connect - read here
      • IBM kicks of cloud data center race in 2014 - read here
      • First Take - IBM Software Group's Analyst Insights - read here
      • Are we witnessing one of the largest cloud moves - so far? Read here
      • Why IBM acquired Softlayer - read here


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      SAP today announced that it has moved a vital analysis piece of Ariba, the Ariba Spend Visibility functionality, to HANA and that it plans to move the Ariba Network to HANA. 


      Let’s dissect the press release and comment along the lines:

      WALLDORF, Germany — April 29, 2014 — Continuing its commitment to seamless innovation, SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) today announced that Ariba, an SAP company, is moving to SAP® HANA, the leading in-memory platform for real-time computing. The initial step, involving the transition of Ariba® Spend Visibility™, was completed with zero down time, demonstrating the ease and simplicity available through SAP HANA.

      MyPOV – Good move by SAP delivering on its statement of moving its products to the HANA database and platform. It is starting with probably one of the easier and more appealing pieces of Ariba functionality- the Spend Visibility tool. Spend Visibility is a planning process in purchasing where the buyers analyse the quality of their suppliers and decide, if changes on the supplier side are necessary – mostly for business risk and viability reasons. For that SAP enriches supplier data with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) data. So it is a nice DaaS (Data as a Service) appliance, enriched with 3rd party data. One can wonder if that analysis has to run in memory – it certainly runs faster, starting with the load of purchase data. From a pure code perspective this should be a low hanging fruit use case – but you can’t blame anyone, even SAP, to start with the easier tasks when migrating to a new platform. The DaaS and 3rd party aspect certainly caters well for the analytical ambitions SAP has with HANA.

      The company is now shifting the Ariba® Network to the platform, which will enable participants in the business-to-business trading community to gain new insights into their operations and act on them more quickly than ever to drive unprecedented business outcomes and competitive advantage.

      MyPOV - Credit to asap to share the next step. Moving the Ariba Network over to HANA is more challenging, as the supplier network is a living structure with constant changes. At the point of blogging we do not know if SAP went for an expansive re-write of the functionality – making e.g. each supplier atomic across multiple customers – or not (yet). It will be also interesting to learn, if SAP used the opportunity to use its new graph search capability.

      The Ariba Network on SAP HANA will create an entirely new cloud offering possible only from SAP. Companies will be able to glean predictive intelligence on risks, performance, capabilities, rates and more from the more than 15 years of transaction and relationship data and community-generated content that reside in the world’s largest, most global business network. Leveraging the speed and power of SAP HANA, they can instantly process this information and enable innovative processes that dramatically improve their performance and productivity. […]

      MyPOV – So this paragraph points in the direction of a re-write – but we will wait for details till calling what the new offering will be. The analytical capabilities on top of the network data are intriguing and a great showcase for HANA’s (new) analytical capabilities.

      Smoothing the Transition
      Customers across industries are already experiencing the benefits. SAP transitioned Ariba Spend Visibility to SAP HANA without disruption, upgrading thousands of companies and more than 4.7 million individual users instantly. These users are now processing key operational and analytical reports up to 100 times faster.


      MyPOV – We will always give credit to vendors who announce after the fact – and this paragraph sounds like that SAP has moved the spend data for the Spend Visibility analysis already. It will be interesting to learn how often and with which processes SAP refreshes the data in HANA from the Ariba OLTP system.

      Seeing the Future
      As SAP moves the Ariba Network to SAP HANA, companies will be able to analyse the vast volumes of information they have on their businesses faster than ever before. This includes structured data on production, marketing, sales and pricing, HR, finance, facilities and operations, as well as transaction-level data from supplier, customer and partner relationships, and unstructured data such as blogs and Tweets.


      MyPOV – Interesting new functionality – but we are talking about future development that needs to happen.

      With SAP HANA, data loads 30 times faster and is instantly accessible. So once a sourcing project, contract or invoice is initiated on the network, companies can immediately perform more complex analyses based on an expanded set of variables, including cost centers, purchase price variances and micro regions, and receive results in real time.

      MyPOV – No surprises that HANA can load data faster than other – non in memory databases. If the described reports justify the cost of moving (and holding) sourcing project and related data in memory – remains to be seen.

      Leveraging SAP® Lumira™, the company’s visualization software, they will be able to see and interact with their data in entirely new ways and outline more informed strategies that advance their business goals. Suppliers, for instance, will for the first time be able to access their complete transaction history with a given customer and create intuitive data visualizations that allow them to understand how their payment cycles are trending or whether their invoice rejection rates are improving. […]

      MyPOV – No surprise again – SAP has again and again positioned (see BI 2014 here) Lumira as the go to platform – at least for the HANA Cloud Platform where we assume these offerings are being built on.

      The new capabilities, which can be added on an “opt-in” basis, will provide buyers and sellers with complete flexibility and choice to meet the demands of their business and accelerate the results that they deliver. SAP will preview these capabilities and show the power of the Ariba Network on SAP HANA at SAPPHIRE® NOW, being held June 3-5, 2014, in Orlando, Florida

      MyPOV – We will need to understand what the ‘opt-in’ basis means in detail, especially if and what costs are involved in that.

      Overall MyPOV

      It is good to see SAP making good on its commitment to bring all products to the HANA platform. As mentioned before – that SAP starts with relatively easier use cases and with scenarios that make HANA more attractive is a legitimate choice. We hope for some clarity on potential license cost – if any. And there can be no doubt SAP is enabling new and interesting functionality for Ariba customers. If the benefit of that new functionality justifies SAP’s investment will have to be seen. And more challenging scenarios – like the transactional Ariba and SuccessFactors portfolio look – will be the true test of HANA as an all purpose database. We know you can load and analyse data very fast in memory, complemented by good analytics and likely the graph search (in the future for the Supplier Network). So a good start with an attractive scenario for SAP – but the road to get rid of other database running under the hood of SAP applications is still long.

      And more on overall SAP strategy

      • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
      • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
      • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
      • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
      • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
      • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
      • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
      • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
      • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
      • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
      • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
      • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
      • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
      • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.

      And more about SAP technology:

      • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
      • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
      • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
      • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
      • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
      • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
      • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
      • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
      • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.

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      We had the chance to participate at IBM’s Impact conference this week in Las Vegas. Impact is the show formerly centered on WebSphere, but the product centricity of IBM events seems to be a thing of the past. Rightfully all events need to address the attendees’ desire to learn more about cloud, mobile, BigData and social. That said, social was a little bit absent this week, but well compensated by more mobile than I expected. And of course no IBM event without Watson.  


      I blogged already on my Top 3 takeaways from the Day 1 Keynote here - and will build on that. 

      MobileFirst (Pun intended)

      And while Mobile loomed already at Day 1 - it was even more prominent on Day 2- where most of the keynote was dedicated to mobile. IBM has expanded on the Worklight product (acquired a little more than two years ago) and is making it easier for customers to build mobile applications on premises. Given that BlueMix also has mobile development capabilities, IBM now needs to educate customers on where to build which kind of mobile application. The good news is, that the app as the outcome are more or less the same - but the way how to build these mobile apps - conventionally on premises or on a PaaS (BlueMix) - makes for a very different development, deployment and operations scenario. It will be very interesting to see which paths IBM customer will have chosen in a year from now.



      IBM Youtube Video on IBM and Nuance Partnering

      And as a testament of the new and fast moving IBM, the recent Cloudant acquisition that happened during Pulse - is a key asset that IBM makes available for mobile development. And to help customers to come up to speed even faster, IBM is providing a number of pre-packaged applications, called Ready Apps. As with all pre-packaged efforts - they need to stand their value in practice, but the demos we have seen were promising. The vertical flavor IBM has put into them certainly helps them to be more ready for consumption - or at least a significant reduction of implementation costs. To a certain point Ready Apps are a sign of the IBM to come - which is definitively less about hardware, and probably less about services and more about software. Prepackage offerings like Ready Apps certainly move the needle towards software.

      Screenshot a Ready App - Retail for role of Store Associate

      To foster adoption and education, IBM will open 18 IBM MobileFirst studios around the globe - a standard play book move. The question certainly is, how many innovation center like locations does an IBM customer need to visit to come up to speed - but mobile certainly has enough gravitas to deserve its own centers (right next to the BlueMix Garage - which will show mobile development in a PaaS).
       

      Doing good things with IBM technology

      IBM keeps following its direction of looking for early adopters in the healthcare space (see the recent hospital references). At Impact it was a partnership between Corriel Life Sciences and CareKinesis, that will use IBM technology (Softlayer, WebSphere, Cloudant were mentioned) to help seniors with counter indications of prescribed pharmaceuticals. Certainly an area where improvement is needed and it’s good to see technology benefitting mankind. Will be interesting to see, where the project will be in a few quarters from now.
       

      More services in the BlueMix Garage

      On the BlueMix side IBM announced 30 additional new cloud services - quite remarkable if you keep in mind that BlueMix was just announced in February. And of course it is easier to do this in the cloud age, and yes it is CloudFoundry, which has an active ecosystem, so IBM does not need to do all the work. Pitney Bowes picking BlueMix was an interesting, but logical choice. To get more traction IBM will have to show similar partnership at a rate of half a dozen a quarter. Let’s not forget that IBM not only has to make the platform work and get developers to build on it - IBM also needs to attract service providers to expose and provide their services to the BlueMix platform. A chicken and egg problem - as you cannot get the one without the other - so it will be interesting to see, how IBM will expand BlueMix services and uptakes.

      Of course customers need to learn more about BlueMix and IBM announced to open up (surprise surprise) BlueMix garages - grungy enough to attract developers at least in name - in practice we will have to see. Good choice with the first location being in San Francisco - if IBM can attract developer beyond the honeymoon and trial phase there - then it will work in other locations, too. Partnering with the Galvanize co-learning space (or Incubator?) is certainly a smart move. Maybe location will become a competitive battle ground for PaaS vendors? We will see and look forward to visit.


      IBM Youtube Video on launching BlueMix Garages with galvanize

      Connections vs Pulse vs Impact

      Having attended all three major IBM conference in the last 4 months - I was most impressed by Impact. No celebrities, bands or dancers in the keynotes - only Kevin Spacey at the very end of the Day 3 keynote. And no external moderator with more or less lucky attempts to entertain the audience. It was impressive to see a customer (CEO of Tangerine) open the conference - a first at least for me and for the rest it was all customers, partners and IBM execs working the keynotes. And plenty of live demos. It was also a welcome change and a first (ok for yours truly) to have women anchor the whole keynotes and both Marie Wieck (on day 2) and Mychelle Molloy (on day 3) did great.
       

      All coming together: API Economy = (SoftLayer + BlueMix + APIs) / Marketplace

      The overall IBM strategy going forward has become even clearer now, that where it already was after Pulse (see here). IBM’s vision of an API economy where API providers publish their APIs and API consumers use a tool (BlueMix) to compose their applications and then run that in a hybrid cloud with the help of SoftLayer is unique. Composed Apps are sold and purchased on a marketplace, which was IBM’s big announcement for Impact - though it was mentioned and previewed at Pulse a few weeks earlier.

      So in Pseudo-Math the IBM Strategy can be expressed in the formula of the header of this section - and it is a very compelling vision. It sets IBM apart from the competition and is an expression of IBM’s deep understanding of the enterprise’s automation needs. As mentioned earlier - IBM is different from its competition having a major consultant force on its books and with that the undesirable - but possible outcome - that composing next generation applications with BlueMix is more labor intensive than originally expected - may not be desirable, but is an outcome IBM can stomach. Imagine Amazon or Microsoft needing consultants to deliver next generation applications - they simply with their current abilities, could not deliver them. Oracle may be able to go a little further and HP even a little further, but IBM has definitively the most hands in consulting amongst the cloud players. And of course one could say - they all can and have to partner - but partnering with cutting edge technology always has unwanted variables in ramp-up speed of partners and ensuring early adopter success.
       

      Implications, Implications...

      So what does it mean for... 
      • IBM customers & prospects - We largely remain with our analysis from Pulse in February. It’s good to see a vendor innovate as well as IBM is innovating. Adding 30 new cloud services to BlueMix is a good pace, a pace that IBM need to keep up for the quarters to come. The Marketplace is in its infancy - so do not let your aspirations be limited by what you see on the market place - but work actively with IBM to see what can and could be done - and even more importantly what not.

        For potential mobile projects we would advise customers to use Worklight, especially in more conservative settings. Especially if it’s a mobile only project. For broader next generation projects, beyond a mobile usage but including mobile we encourage decision makers to look at BlueMix.

        IBM SaaS customers should have a watchful eye on BlueMix and the marketplace - and making sure that IBM delivers on their respective SaaS product roadmap. Given the BlueMix progress we now tend to advice customers with ambitious integration plans to put these on the shelf and see what happens with BlueMix. Some integrations and integration capability may come for free - or be much easier to implement in the next quarters.

        Prospective customers should compare with competitive offerings, but if your enterprise automation has been less than a good fit in the past - the API economy vision and direction is something to keep an eye on. With IBM not having unveiled pricing yet - both prospects and customers need to be cautious on cost implications.
         
      • IBM Partners - Existing IBM partners who want to keep playing a role need to look at BlueMix and draft their value proposition in the API economy going forward. IP centric partners should get at the front of the line, service oriented partners need to draft their go forward strategy. It’s likely IBM customers will still pay for large implementations, but partners should not feel to secure of the cloud not squeezing implementation budgets in a similar way as it has already for traditional enterprise software implementations.

        It’s a great time for prospective partners - both with an IP and services background to get in the fray and claim a stake in the IBM cloud ecosystem better early than late.

        Lastly partners should not underestimate the marketplace, while still in its infancy today it may mature sooner and faster than partners anticipate and the potential self-service enablement of line of business decision makers can create havoc in revenue plans.
         
      • IBM - We wrote after Pulse:

        IBM needs to keep adding and building more services and APIs into BlueMix. Early references, success stories will be key to show impact and get the large - and mostly conservative - IBM install base to move to BlueMix faster. Obviously, get the pricing right, easier said than done. Look into exposing more products that were features at IBMConnection as a differentiator to other cloud PaaS out there. Publish a road map both for the SoftLayer expansion to Power as well as the addition of APIs from the SaaS portfolio to BlueMix.

         
        So IBM did well on adding more services in short 2 months. The rest of our advice stands - what we additionally see is that, IBM will need to find their Netflix - a large customer cloud load that does not come from the usual customer segments, and may even be a competitor. At Impact all of IBM’s strategy was organic, services engagement one customer at the time. And that will still be good business for IBM, but not enough to win the cloud wars, which are all about economies of scale. In order to attract these loads, IBM will have to define, evangelize and service logical fold lines in its architecture. APIs, composition, virtualization come to mind. But first things first - pricing and a roadmap for clients and prospects to align their strategic plans with those of IBM.
         
      • Competitors - IBM is moving fast and has a viable platform with SoftLayer. That wasn’t the same a year ago - when the smarter xxx landscape was not really ready for prime time in the cloud. Pent up demand and new found dynamics all play in IBM’s favor - so it’s time to create a differentiating value proposition. On the IaaS side it is pretty clear what is a hand, on the PaaS side determine both threat and potential of an API strategy. There is no loss of honor in imitating and implementing maybe even better. And on the SaaS side it’s time to pick a next generation platform to build on. Some SaaS vendors may have the potential to become the aforementioned Netflix of IBM (with that we allude to Netflix’s decision to run most of its IT on Amazon AWS, a competitor on the market - but a strategic partner in IT).

      MyPOV


      A very good Impact conference and good progress since Pulse by IBM. Is there an event in 2 months to check-in again - no. So we will have to trust IBM to keep the pace it has set and deliver more services, a more capable marketplace and more data centers to run the load. In the meantime IBM needs to educate customers - Centers and Garages can only do so much - but must also show the path on how to migrate in the future. Roadmaps and pricing are the key deliverables. A future that looks much better for IBM than it did 12 months ago. What a difference a year - and an acquisition - SoftLayer - can make. 


      P.S. I did not go into the whole DevOps side - Jazz is now DevOps by the way - needs a whole separate blog post - less on product specifics but overall industry philosophy..

      -------------
      More on IBM by me:
      • First Take - 3 Key Takeaways from IBM's Impact Conference - Day 1 Keynote - read here
      • Another week and another Billion - this week it's a BlueMix Paas - read here
      • First take - IBM makes Connection - introduces the TalentSuite at IBM Connect - read here
      • IBM kicks of cloud data center race in 2014 - read here
      • First Take - IBM Software Group's Analyst Insights - read here
      • Are we witnessing one of the largest cloud moves - so far? Read here
      • Why IBM acquired Softlayer - read her

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      So SAP did another weekend re-org announcement. Few people know, that by German law a supervisory board is not allowed to delay the release of material information - hence the weekend surprise(s). So Sikka, who ran all of product development, applications and HANA is out. Bernd Leukert takes over for him and has certainly big shoes to fill. 



      But let's look at the press release in our standard News Analysis format and take it from there:

      WALLDORF — To advance the technology industry’s most successful transition to the cloud, SAP AGtoday announced the decision of its Supervisory Board to appoint Robert Enslin and Bernd Leukert to the company’s Executive Board, effective immediately. Enslin will continue to lead global customer operations and Leukert will assume responsibility for the global development organization. The Supervisory Board also approved two new appointments to the Global Managing Board, Helen Arnold and Stefan Ries, to strengthen the next generation leadership team of SAP.

      MyPOV – It may have been seniority – Enslin longer with SAP than Leukert overall – but Sales before Product is not the usual sequence at SAP. Good to have all new additions in the first paragraph and good to see a woman back in the Global Management Board.

      In conjunction with today’s announcements, Dr. Vishal Sikka, Executive Board Member for Products and Innovation, announced his departure from the Executive Board for personal reasons, effective immediately.

      “No company in the industry can do what SAP can do in the cloud with the SAP HANA platform today. I would like to personally thank Vishal for his contribution to take SAP to this stage. We will remain friends as he pursues the next step in his journey,” said Hasso Plattner, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of SAP AG. “Robert Enslin and Bernd Leukert have dedicated their careers to SAP’s customers and employees. They will play integral roles in scaling the broad adoption of the SAP HANA Cloud platform and accelerating the company’s success into a new era. I’m also pleased that strong leaders like Helen Arnold and Stefan Ries are stepping into senior leadership positions to drive SAP forward at this moment of significant opportunity.”

      MyPOV – So now we know why Leukert was appointed. No desire to speculate on why Sikka is leaving for personal reasons, classy move from Plattner to congratulate him. With McDermott becoming sole CEO as previously announced – the Enslin appointment was likely accelerated. And as CFO in waiting Mucic would have been the sole non-executive board member of the left in the Global Managing Board – good time to add Arnold and Ries, so this organizational body has life. SAP could have gotten rid of it, too – but the decision seems to have been to stick with consistency. Shareholders may ask though at the soon happening general assembly.
      We would be remiss as analyst not to note that Sikka was in charge of Product and Innovation, Leukert will run the global development organization. As this press release states. So this leaves room for some speculation, that may not be desired at this point.

      SAP HANA had a continuing strong adoption rate in the first quarter 2014, demonstrating that it is the leading real-time business platform. SAP now has more than 3,200 SAP HANA customers since market launch in June 2011 and close to 1,000 customers for SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, which was launched just one year ago. SAP HANA is also evolving into the leading technology platform: there are more than 1,200 startups from 57 countries building applications on SAP HANA. Of these startups, more than 60 already have commercially available products on the market today.

      “Our SAP HANA platform is established as the global standard, its roadmap is in full effect”, said Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, Co-CEOs of SAP. “Now is the moment for leaders like Rob Enslin, Bernd Leukert, Helen Arnold and Stefan Ries to step up and fulfill the promise of SAP as THE cloud company powered by SAP HANA. We couldn’t be more thrilled by this next-generation leadership team and all it will bring to our mission to simplify everything.”


      MyPOV – We know HANA is rolling – and McDermott is giving the best quote a future CEO can give in the situation. The key is that McDermott says the roadmap is in full effect. It would be good to learn more about that HANA – or probably overall roadmap. Will be key for customers to be aware of SAP’s plans and to align – if they want to – their IT investment with SAP’s.

      Enslin and Leukert represent two of SAP’s longest serving and most promising leaders, bringing a combined 42 years of SAP experience to the Executive Board.

      “Rob Enslin and Bernd Leukert have played central roles in executing our transition to the cloud and the adoption of SAP HANA,” said Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe. “SAP customers are looking for the operational experience, thought leadership and best practices to support their own transformations through innovation without disruption. We are very confident that Rob and Bernd are the right leaders to drive the scale and adoption of the SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA.”

      Enslin joined SAP in 1992 and began his career as an SAP consultant supporting customers in South Africa. He has steadily risen to his current role leading the company’s over 20,000 professionals in sales and services and has presided over the integration of SAP’s go-to-market teams to advance a simplified experience for SAP customers.


      MyPOV – Enslin has done a good job bringing in the numbers for SAP, while McDermott was been tied into more CEO activities and spending less time on the sales side. Getting the SAP sales machine to bring in the numbers while products are in transition is no easy feat – and Enslin deserves credit for delivering. I do not expect any difference in execution going forward – no pressure. But congrats and certainly well deserved.

      Leukert joined SAP in 1994 and has long been one of the company’s foremost technologists and solution visionaries. He was appointed to the Global Managing Board in 2013 after successfully orchestrating the development and delivery of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. He will now lead the global development organization in redefining business applications on the SAP HANA Cloud platform.

      MyPOV – Leukert has risen through the ranks of the development organization, mostly when reporting to Hagemann Snabe – back when Hagemann Snabe was running product development. Leukert has run what was then R/3, Industries and has gained international exposure with BusinessOne, which has its foundation in Israel with the SAP Labs there. His promotion to the Management Board came when SAP consolidated all development under Sikka (taking it from Hagemann Snabe) – less than a year ago. Leukert has been presenting at the recent TechEd, DSAG and local German conferences and got a lot of exposure through this. To me it has looked like SAP was transitioning him as the trusted contact for the long term (applications) customers of SAP – a role that will soon be vacant with Hagemann Snabe’s imminent departure. Leukert is likeable, smart and German – all three will work to his advantage (see more on culture and country below).

      In joining the Global Managing Board, Helen Arnold and Stefan Ries bring strong executive backgrounds that will support the company’s cloud operations and people agenda, respectively.

      A 18-year veteran of SAP, Arnold will assume the role of chief information officer for the SAP Group and lead cloud operations and the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, in addition to her current responsibilities as the head of SAP´s internal Business Innovations and Application Services organization. She has broad experience leading SAP’s internal innovation agenda, most recently transitioning SAP to a next-generation financial management system on the SAP HANA platform.


      MyPOV – Arnold has been the silent transformer behind many SAP internal and some external SAP intiatives. Knowing where the skeletons are in the closet will certainly be an asset. SAP is also doing well at separating the product development and the product operating roles. But McDermott will have to make sure that they are on even footing – as the operate side of a cloud business is often more important than the product side. Should SAP slide into a build here – operate there mentality will not help. We can assume that Arnold will mainly deal with Executive Board super veteran (member since 1996) – Gerhard Oswald – who has the important HEC responsibility in his area or responsibility. Should that be carved out, it would be one of the first (if not the very first) loss of responsibility for Oswald – who has been adding more responsibility since over a decade. With Oswald’s contract valid till 2016 – it would be an early start of pre-retirement moves.

      Ries recently rejoined SAP to lead global human resources from Egon Zehnder, where he served during the last three years as principal consultant, advising global companies in leadership and executive search. Between 2002 and 2010, Ries had several global and regional leadership positions with SAP’s HR organization.


      MyPOV – Ries is sitting on nominally the most volatile post inside of the SAP Executive Board. Both predecessors on the HR leadership side Dammann and Delgado did not last long. Brandt on the other side has been dealing with HR on an on and off base quite successfully. Ries in contrast to Dammann and Delgado is a SAP long timer and his time at personal recruiter Egon Zehnder should give him some good outside in perspective.

      With Brandt retiring and handing over to Mucic end of June on the CFO side – it will be interesting to see where Ries dotted line will end up (for not it is with McDermott). My personal view is that with a software company, where people are the key asset, the Chief People Officer, needs to work for the CEO. In a last wrinkle for German labor law friends – Brandt held the formal title of Arbeitsdirektor – which as local newspaper report may go to McDermott.


      Country & Culture matter

      While I personally support the view that intelligent people will find ways to work together well – no matter where they are from on the world, no matter where they have been raised and how that may have influenced in their values and beliefs. But culture matters, and people from the same and similar culture do instantaneously work with each other more productively, bond faster, trust each other faster etc. So country and culture matter, and with SAP having it’s first non German and non European CEO (Hagemann-Snabe learnt German rather fast and scored big with customers and employees) – it’s probably smart for SAP to have a product leader from Germany. At the end of the day SAP needs to get the developers in Walldorf to execute on next generation applications. And three of five executive board members (Oswald, Leukert and Mucic) will reside in Walldorf. Walldorf now will have to show that it can innovate like in the early 90ies – with no excuse in regards of leadership under representation. (And yes there was innovation in Walldorf, too – great innovation comes form the Labs, but Walldorf in my view needs the ‘e pur si muove’ moment now.)
       

      Implications, Implications

      So what does this mean for…
      • SAP customers and prospects – Customers and prospects need to pay special attention to Sapphire in early June. New executives, and most likely new plans. Any pending roadmap items – time to reach out and have them secured all the way from the (new) top, which means McDermott. Then customers and prospects will have to tune in to the new messaging. If pre-Sapphire is like last Sapphire – SAP will be releasing all major announcements before in a more or less coordinated fashion. Let’s hope this won’t be repeated this year and we see a well coordinated news cycle at Sapphire (please Mr. Becher!).

        Overall enterprises are customers of SAP for leading, integrated and high quality enterprise automation software. Having an executive like Leukert at the helm of product development, who has been building business applications for all of his career should be a change for the better into a promising direction. Application developers look at technology different than how technology developers look at technology. Customers and prospects will have to wait and listen as Leukert designs direction and roadmap for SAP’s next generation applications.
         

      • SAP partners – It’s time to pause now and see where SAP is heading strategy wise. On the application side investments are certainly secure, on the technology side it will be key to see who Leukert will put in charge of technology direction and what the new revised technology roadmap will look like. As always when you live and breathe in an ecosystem – make sure you understand and plot your course in the ecosystem – but when the 800 pound alpha male moves, it’s time to sit down and observe. Then plot your move.
      • SAP– No matter what SAP execs say – going through five executive board members in 12 months is not desirable (Dalgaard, Delgado and Sikka are gone, Hagemann Snabe and Brandt are schedule to leave the next 2 months or so). And while the transitions of Hagemann Snabe and Brandt were announced and look orderly. The rest – well surprises… Just compare with SAP co-opetitor Oracle when was the last substantial management change there - who remembers? And SAP co-opetitor IBM? Steve Mills rotates like a modern soccer coach, but its the same team.

        It will be key to see how McDermott will be able to setup his executive board. The claim will be of course all is done now, and that may well the case, but I would not be surprised if more changes are coming. The only areas that are really set are Sales with Enslin and Finance with Mucic. Oswald’s contract is up in 24 months, so orderly transition commences ... now. Leukert needs to prove himself. Cloud company CEOs usually have a trusted CTO working for them (see e.g. Ed Screven at Oracle or Parker Harris at Salesforce.com) and due to direct market access the CMO is part of the Executive Board, too. I shared my view on the Chief People Officer before.

        But then SAP’s technology business is also large enough to be moved completely into separate hands. Plenty of options for McDermott.

        And next will be how Leukert will setup his team. He needs a leader for the technology side of the business and the only person I know inside of SAP would be Bjoern Goehrke. Franz Faerber would be an alternative, but probably does not want the limelight. But Leukert may (have to) go outside. And then Leukert needs to figure out functional organization vs. product organization, how to handle innovation, where to put vertical development, how to reach out to developers, partners etc. – he will be getting little sleep in the next weeks.
         
      • Competitors – SAP has been often rightfully derided on its inertia. But now inertia is a good thing, the ship will run its course and there will be very little to none short term wins against SAP in the marketplace. HANA is too established for questioning it. Suite on HANA is equally established – so there is no questioning here. Competitors will have to wait – like everyone else – to what McDermott / Leukert are up to and then adjust their strategies accordingly.

      MyPOV

      I see SAP at two crossroads. The first one is, that soon it will be lead by the first non European CEO. A predominant European / German board will quell potential concerns here. 

      The second and more important crossroad is how SAP wants to look like in 5 years. More like the SAP of 5 years ago -  the global leader in business applications (of course in 2019 running on HANA) or more like Oracle today (a leader in both the business applications and technology space). McDermotts organizational and talent management decisions will be crucial to setup SAP on either trajectory. 

      Only one things if for sure... the world will be watching. 


      And more on overall SAP strategy

      • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
      • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
      • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
      • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
      • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
      • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
      • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
      • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
      • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
      • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
      • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
      • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
      • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
      • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.


      And more about SAP technology:

      • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
      • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
      • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
      • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
      • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
      • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
      • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
      • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
      • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
      • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.

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      Today Workday unveiled its Update 22 – including the addition of Recruiting to Workday’s HCM automation portfolio. Recruiting has been long anticipated, and already a lot previewed at earlier conferences (all the way back to Workday Rising in September 2013), but Update 22 is a lot of new functionality, too. Contrary to the past Workday changed the format from a webcast to an event held in San Francisco, in my view a good move, showing how far the company has come.


      And no surprise, most of the event focused on the new recruiting module, presented by Levensaler and balanced out by the rest of Update 22, presented by Frandsen.

      The new kid on the block – Recruiting

      As to be expected when a software vendor has plenty of time to get something right, they get it right. Workday is no exception and the time spend with pilot customers, observing users, doing usability tests, applying design thinking etc. has culminated in a good first release of recruiting. Special credit in my view goes to the development team for really looking at the key constituents in the recruitment automation space, the applicant, the recruiter, the hiring manager and the interviewers. Workday used a persona driven approach to build recruiting – and as expected – that approach delivers complete automation for each of the personae / roles.

      Screenshot from Workday website
      Moreover Workday has taken the opportunity that every good enterprise software developer should take, to not rebuild one to one what has been built in this area of automation before – but to address a number of newer integration and best practice areas that are quickly becoming standard, like for instance:
      • ·         Continuously looking for talent – both internally and externally comes to mind, regardless of an open hiring requisition.
      • ·         Leveraging social networks both for job referral as for application completion.
      • ·         Using smartphones and tablets to enable both the application as well as the interview process.
      • ·         And so on.


      Listen to Levensaler present Recruiting 

      Needless to say, Workday has done the (usually) good job with the user interface, it is consistent with the rest of the applications and looks easy to use. A quick comparison with the mobile solution shown back at Workday Rising shows that the development team has not been idling, but worked to expand both usability and solution further.

      And always good to see when things are driven to closure, or re-used, so pushing recruiting information in the Notebook functionality of Update 20 makes that an even more powerful tool. 

      Finally Workday sees onboarding as part of recruiting, a sensible and logical decision, that is more or less part of the functional offering for most of the suite vendors, but nonetheless worth mentioning.


      One of the more interesting insights Workday shared, was how the need of the recruiting process has repercussions all the way down to the underlying application platform capabilities. Due to the dynamic nature of recruiting that cannot be scripted in a number of finite steps Workday had to make its Business Process Framework more flexible, in order to accommodate Recruiting. The company did that and the good news now is, that other business automation needs that are equally non deterministic (e.g. promotions, general planning, sales, contract negotiations etc.) will now benefit from the new capabilities in the framework.


      What else is in Update 22

      As usual I will exclude the enhancements for Financials – you can find them here. But the new customer portal looks nice.


      Update 15
      Update 16
      Update 17
      Update 18
      Update 19
      Update 20
      Update 21
      Update 22
      October 2011
      April 2012
      August 2012
      November 2012
      April 2013
      September 2013
      January 2014
      May 2014
      User Experience
      - Outlook Integration
      - Chatter Integration
      Mobility
      HTML5 Support for non IOS devices
      Mobility
      - New modules
      - Global Support
      Workforce Engagement:
      Team Profile
      Professional Profile
      Headcount Planning
      Big Data Analytics
      New User Interface for browser
      New Process Framework
      Talent Management
      - Talent Reviews
      - Career Interests
      - Cornerstone Integration
      Onboarding
      Time Tracking
      Performance Management Enhancements
      Android Native Support & iOS Mobile Enhancements
      User Experience - Configurable Grids for Compensation
      Performance Management across browser and mobile
      Recruiting
      Travel Connector
      rids for Compensation
      Payroll
      - Payroll for Canada
      - Payroll Connector

      Usability Enhancements
      Custom Fields
      More custom fields
      Mobility
      - Notbooks for iPad
      Legislative support - Report for ACA / RUP
      Collective Bargain Agreements
      Higher Education Functionality



      170 Enhancements
      207 Features / 80 Brainstorm Items
      246 Features / 67 Brainstorm Items
      347 Features / 68
      Customer Requests

      And as usual I will try to evaluate the functional richness of the release – and with Recruiting Workday has – since a long time, Update 17 (with Time Tracking) to be precise, provided a major building stone to the HCM automation puzzle. Granted, enhancement is not equal to enhancement but in lack of Workday releasing a better metric, this was a good and rich release for Workday, with for the first time over 350 enhancements. And the number should be up, as Workday has a larger customer base and a larger functional footprint.

      Nonetheless congratulations to the Workday team for one of the most functional rich releases – maybe ever. And with that I do not mean that other releases have been small – I am sure Update 21 getting all to work snuggly with the new UI – was a lot of work, too. But it did not move the functional needle from a HCM automation perspective.


      MyPOV

      Workday has taken its time to build Recruiting and it shows – it is a well-rounded integrated first release with a lot of benefits on the not so traditional recruiting roles of the hiring manager, the candidate and the hiring team. Accounting for mobile needs in the recruiting process right from the get go and not as an afterthought deserves credit – as much as it is a tables take today to support mobile devices. Workday must now map out and communicate the next steps for recruiting. I am sure they are Identified (pun intended). But there is more to that on which Workday needs to communicate. It’s great to have 60 customers signed up, but many more have to follow and they want certainty of what is to come.


      It’s also good to see that Update 22 was a functionally richer release than previous Updates – which is the direction customers want Workday to take. Looking at the missing pieces of HCM automation functionality, Workday now needs to start thinking and communicating around Learning (partnering right now), Workforce Management (partnering right now) and more global HCM and payroll support (you guessed it – partnering). To really make the story of an integrated system fly – these are the next steps Workday needs to address…


      But for now – congrats to Workday to a good start with Recruiting and a funtionally very rich Update 22. 




      More on Workday
      • First Take - Why Workday acquired Identified - (real) Analytics matter - read here
      • Workday Update 21 - All about the user experience and some more - read here
      • Workday Update 20 - Mostly a technology release - read here
      • Takeaways from the Salesforce.com and Workday parnership - read here
      • Workday powers on - adds more to its plate - read here
      • What I would like Workday to address this Rising - read here
      • Workday Update 19 - you need to slow down to hurry up - read here
      • I am worried about... Workday - read here


      More on Recruiting
      • Musings - What is the future of Recruiting? Read here
      • Why all the attention to Recruiting? Read here

      0 0

      In a webcast today HP announced its new cloud brand – HP Helion. The event was largely scripted, not sure why it was so formal – and for all the fans of a no slide presentation – take a look at it and let me know what you think – you can find it here.



      So let’s dissect the new from the press release:

      HP today introduced HP Helion, a portfolio of cloud products and services that enable organizations to build, manage and consume workloads in hybrid IT environments.

      HP Helion incorporates existing HP cloud offerings, new OpenStack® technology–based products, and professional and support services under a unified portfolio to help meet customers’ specific business requirements.

       

      MyPOV – So it’s about a brand name for bundling HP products and services together.

      HP also is extending its commitment to OpenStack technology and hybrid IT delivery—spanning traditional IT, public, private and managed clouds. HP plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next two years on cloud-related product and engineering initiatives, professional services and expanding HP Helion’s global reach.
       

      MyPOV – So the Billion will be stretched out over two years (see Cisco, too) and spend in R&D, Professional Service and global rollout. Probably the number HP would have planned to invest anyway into cloud – but still good to make the case, given all the 1 Billiom investment announcements around cloud.

      As a result of more than three years of running OpenStack cloud services at scale in enterprise environments, HP understands that organizations require solutions that are open, secure and agile. As a founding platinum member of the OpenStack Foundation and a leader in the OpenStack and Cloud Foundry™ communities, HP has taken a central role in developing technologies that are built to meet enterprise requirements and to deliver OpenStack technologies and Cloud Foundry-based solutions to the global marketplace. […]

      MyPOV – And here is the cue on how HP plans to pitch HP Helion – as the enterprise ready hybrid cloud. Build from a vendor who understands enterprise and offered to the enterprise. Certainly worth the differentiation versus Amazon and Google, not sure how well it works against IBM, Microsoft and Oracle who can claim a similar enterprise pedigree. HP certainly deserves credit for being an early and significant investor into the progress of OpenStack.

      As part of the HP Helion portfolio, HP is introducing several new cloud products and services, including:

      · HP Helion OpenStack Community edition—A commercial product line of OpenStack that is delivered, tested and supported by HP. Available today, the community edition is a free version ideal for proofs of concept, pilots and basic production workloads. An enhanced commercial edition that addresses the needs of global enterprises and service providers will be released in the coming months.


      MyPOV – Very smart move of HP to make a free community version of HP Helion OpenStack available. It proves two things that matter to HP: For one that HP can leverage its large investment in OpenStack and that investment pays off in faster time to market, or at least HP enriched OpenStack code earlier in HP customers hands. And earlier access can be translated into speed, that can be translated into go to market and with that into a competitive advantage. If HP can upkeep the pole position of making new community editions of the latest OpenStack versions (this one is 3 weeks after GA of OpenStack Icehouse), it certainly becomes part of perception and with that value HP can leverage as a differentiator with against OpenStack competitors. Of course we need to wait when the usual suspects will deliver their OpenStack Icehouse versions. And secondly it’s a commitment that HP wants to enable developers by getting them a free community edition as early as possible. And with support of up to 30 nodes it’s not a low capability freebie, but a reasonable edition to test and create larger loads.

      · HP Helion Development Platform—A Platform as a Service (PaaS) based on Cloud Foundry, offering IT departments and developers an open platform to build, deploy and manage applications quickly and easily. HP plans to release a preview version later this year.

      MyPOV – Not a surprise move by HP, given its investment into Pivotal / Cloud Foundry. Little was said about how that offering will differentiate itself, apart from running on HP hardware and cloud software. HP did not even mention if and how (we certainly expect) other HP software assets can be leveraged in the HP Helion Development Platform – which effectively is a PaaS.

      · HP’s OpenStack Technology Indemnification Program—Protects qualified customers using HP Helion OpenStack code from third-party patent, copyright and trade-secret infringement claims directed to OpenStack code alone or in combination with Linux code.


      MyPOV – This is a first, and clear differentiator for HP (for now). Not only conservative CIO and CFOs balk at the potential liability issues resulting from IP infractions from Open Source software they use. HP raises the ante on the other OpenStack competitors in this regards, and with entering an unlimited liability guarantee (as mentioned in the webcast) – shoulders a lot of potential risk. And in my view this is a very attractive offering, that prospects and customers will likely force HP competitors to offer too.

      · HP Helion OpenStack Professional Services—A new practice made up of HP’s experienced team of consultants, engineers and cloud technologists to assist customers with cloud planning, implementation and operational needs.

      HP Helion OpenStack–based cloud services will be made available globally via HP’s partner network of more than 110 service providers worldwide and in HP data centers—HP operates more than 80 data centers in 27 countries. HP plans to provide OpenStack-based public cloud services in 20 data centers worldwide over the next 18 months. HP will also enable HP PartnerOne for Cloud partners to deliver and resell OpenStack-based cloud services.


      MyPOV –  No surprise that HP will offer Professional Services for all its products where they are applicable, HP Helion makes no exception. HP gives an interesting insight in regards of the 80 data centers in 27 countries it has today, which is a large footprint. But then OpenStack services will be available in only 20 data centers in 18 months from now – so a far step from e.g. the 40 locations announced by IBM. It certainly is a good move to use partner data centers and include partners in the rollout. Partners can even resell HP Helion, certainly an acknowledgement to the key role partners play for HP.

      The new HP Helion cloud products and services join the company’s existing portfolio of hybrid cloud computing offerings, including the next-generation HP CloudSystem—recently ranked as the leader in the Forrester Wave report for Private Cloud Solutions(1)—HP Cloud Service Automation (CSA) software for managing hybrid IT environments, HP’s managed virtual private cloud offering and a range of cloud professional services.

      MyPOV – Good to mention how HP Helion fits in with HP CloudSystem and CSA, something only addressed in the Q&A of the webcast. Needless to say it all fits together.



      Overall MyPOV

      With little less than 4 weeks before HP Discover, one has to wonder why HP had this event now, but HP certainly stole a significant portion of Discover thunder. There was no surprise in the announcement, HP did what HP was expected to do – an enterprise emphasis, a security emphasis and a leading position in supporting OpenStack and a good position with CloudFoundry.

      I missed how HP Helion ties together with the products announced last year with HAVEn– as all these software assets need to work seamlessly together. Not announcing and presenting them together and not seeing Fink and Kadifa together at a cloud announcement is a surprise to me. Customers and partners of HP bet their business on these software assets to tightly work and operate together and not mentioning and presenting them together begs a big question ‘why?’

      The IP indemnification is a smart but aggressive move that will likely be appreciated by customers and with that find imitators. Good for OpenStack customers. A good event for HP that now needs to deliver in product and on the customer success side.



      More about HP

      • A tale of two cloud GAs - Google & HP - read here
      • The cloud is growing up - 3 signs from the news - read here
      • To HAVEn and have not - or: HP Bundles away - read here

      More about IBM
      • Event Report - What a difference a year makes - and IBM is off to a good start but the road is long - read here
      • First Take - 3 Key Takeaways from IBM's Impact Conference - Day 1 Keynote - read here
      • Another week and another Billion - this week it's a BlueMix Paas - read here
      • First take - IBM makes Connection - introduces the TalentSuite at IBM Connect - read here
      • IBM kicks of cloud data center race in 2014 - read here
      • First Take - IBM Software Group's Analyst Insights - read here
      • Are we witnessing one of the largest cloud moves - so far? Read here
      • Why IBM acquired Softlayer - read her


      More about Microsoft:
      • Event Report - Azure grows and blossoms - enough for enterprises (yet)? Read here
      • Event Report - Microsoft Build Day 1 Keynote - Top Enterprise Takeaways - read here.
      • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquire Nokia - read here.
      • Microsoft does not need one new CEO - but six - read here.
      • Microsoft makes the cloud a platform play - Or: Azure and her 7 friends - read here.
      • How the Cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
      • How hard is multi-channel CRM in 2013? - Read here.
      • How hard is it to install Office 365? Or: The harsh reality of customer support - read here.


      0 0

      I have been spending some thoughts on the whole area of data base innovation that we are witnessing these days. The post of colleague and friend Vijay Vijayasankar looking for a better name than the popular NoSQL sparked those thoughts even more. 



      And then it suddenly became clear to me – for the longest time people have been starting any serious database work with design, design of a schema to be precise. And there was nothing wrong with it – storage was sparse and super expensive, so people had to make sure that no byte was wasted, requiring that the storage format was super efficient. Down to the (bit (for the older ones of us) and the) byte.


      Today storage is cheap, no matter if people want to store information on spinning rust (a.k.a. HDD) or SSD or RAM chips. And with that – for most of the new database types we see – the design component has become irrelevant, even stronger – is not even part of many of the new databases we see these days.

      So could be the common thread of the new database boom the absence of a design component, the disposition of schema design step that was and is key for the success of any relational database? Let’s take a look:

      • Hadoop & friends – A classic example for no design. Just store, cheaply mostly, don’t worry for what purpose and query, just store. No design and thought needed to enter data into a Hadoop database (well we may even say cluster). Check.

      • Columnar (often in memory) databases– The whole beauty of columnar database is that you don’t have to worry about about schema. Just feed the name value pairs at storage time. Check.

      • Purpose built databases– These are databases built for a specific purpose and they are very good at that. MongoDB as an example comes to mind. Again no design needed, the design has been done before you get the product, and it’s very good at what the database being designed for. Check.

      So could there be something the whole ‘No Design Database’ observation? It certainly appeals to people to be able to do that – otherwise we would not witness the success of these new databases. And to use one of the most developed offerings of the relational database world – the data warehouse – we all know how painful and critical the design phase is. Very painful for the business people, who need to imagine all the questions they want the data warehouse to be able to answer – before they can use it. So being able to just store all that ‘stuff’ without getting tons of questions by the technical people, is of huge value to the .. business people.


      Is there something to the era of the No Design DataBase? The NDDB? Please comment.

      0 0

      Three weeks ago Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella was back in SFO for another announcement – after cloud for mobile and Office for iOS, then appearance at the build conference, now it was the database’s turn.





      The event felt a little bit over scripted, and I could never figure out why Microsoft’s COO Kevin Turner was on stage for over 30 minutes between CEO Satya Nadella and then product over Quentin Clark. It also felt a little bit too academic. While we are getting used to Nadella’s conceptual approach – ok ambient intelligence and ubiquous computing are new buzzwords we better get used to fast – I was not sure if we needed a scripted formula for the data dividend that Turner presented.


      Slide from Keynote
      And overall I was surprised by the little coverage the event had – after all Microsoft SQL server is one of the (if not the) most used database on the planet. So Microsoft adding in memory capability should be (and is in my view) a big deal. At the end of the day it looks like an under represented tech milestone to me – similar like Infor’s recent announcement to deploy their products in production on AWS (my takeaways here).

      Turner presenting
      Here are my 3 Top takeaways from the event


      • Microsoft goes organic – And with organic I mean – non disruptive. We heard it at least a dozen times – SQL Server 2014 will not require new hardware, new programs etc. (the positioning goes against SAP HANA here) but administrators will be able to move selected tables to in memory. With that Microsoft follows other RDBMS vendors (Oracle, IBM come to mind) to make it easy to exploit in memory capabilities, without having to upgrade a lot – or in some cases even anything at all. And no surprise here – as Microsoft needs to (and its customers certainly appreciate) the investment protection in hardware and software. The real question is – how much will Microsoft customers be able to move the needle of their business applications with in memory technology on their existing hardware and existing software architectures. Or with some incremental investments. Only customers will know at the end of the day.



      • Excel is the higher ground – Day in and day out more intelligence work is done in Microsoft Excel than any other intelligence tool. For Microsoft to leverage Excel as the higher ground makes tremendous sense. It’s a tool millions of business users have on their desktop and use every day. Today this audience mostly and largely works on a ‘XLS datamart’ – in the sense that these users take the data and then work on it locally on their spreadsheet. Changing the nature of Excel from the personal productivity tool that runs locally to the tool that runs on (shared) in memory data and (shared) Bigdata clusters will be a new position the user base will have to learn.

      Slide from Keynote


      • Co-existence with BigData – In line with previous announcements, most recently at the build conference, Microsoft wants Bigdata to co-exist with its relational data. And that makes sense as existing investment and market share are protected. The event was a little light on how the new PolyBase technology will work and bridge the gaps between classic OLTP and Hadoop – so we will need to learn more. But an easy programmatic combination of the SQL and NoSQL worlds is something very powerful and valuable for enterprises.

      MyPOV 

      Microsoft joins the in memory market after a long wait. It’s not too late as SQL Server customers are loyal and competitors not much ahead. The organic approach will make it easy for customers to evaluate the new SQL Server 2014 ad hoc and opportunistically. Using familiar Excel is a huge asset for Microsoft and customers. Couple it with Polybase – and if this combo may enable a business end user to query in memory Bigdata and get insight – a very powerful combination.


      On the flipside I missed the mention of the Microsoft Universal App – a key new construct from the build conference. And yes – not all Universal Apps will be RDBMS style apps – but most of them will be RDBMS and NoSQL apps. So an opportunity missed in my view. And Microsoft also shied away from the largest RDBMS use case it has in house- moving the Dynamics products to SQL Server. The answer to that – only some people in Redmond will know. So let’s see what the news is coming from #msteched this week. 


      More about Microsoft:
      • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Azure grows and blossoms - enough for enterprises (yet)? Read here.
      • Event Report - Microsoft Build Day 1 Keynote - Top Enterprise Takeaways - read here.
      • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquire Nokia - read here.
      • Microsoft does not need one new CEO - but six - read here.
      • Microsoft makes the cloud a platform play - Or: Azure and her 7 friends - read here.
      • How the Cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
      • How hard is multi-channel CRM in 2013? - Read here.
      • How hard is it to install Office 365? Or: The harsh reality of customer support - read here.
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.




      0 0

      Today the Microsoft TechEd conference kicked off in Houston with the first keynote, largely delivered by Brad Anderson, who called in colleagues for separate demos. 

      And here are my top 3 takeaways from the keynote

      • The future is the Hybrid cloud– There can be no doubt that Microsoft keeps investing in the direction of hybrid cloud. And the direction certainly makes sense for Microsoft given where its customers are right now. Making the move to cloud easy is key for Microsoft’s success in the enterprise. Active Directory hold the keys - and Microsoft never gets tired of showing the benefits. 

      API consumption visualized

      • It’s the IT guy, stupid – Even though Anderon and other presenters did not mention it expressively – it’s clear that the pitch of TechEd was for the IT executive and his right hand – the system administrator. Backup in the cloud, fail over for sites, and securing, controlling mobile applications and securing mobile Office capabilities were featured prominently.

      Creation of a RemoteApp

      • Launch of RemoteApp – Being able to make Apps available remotely has long been a bread and butter service for most IT organization. Being able to now deploy these Apps to Windows Azure and have users not only consume them on Windows devices but also (through containers) on iOS and Android is very powerful. And there are all the benefits of the cloud – elastic scaling or resources – so enterprises will only pay for what they use. 


      MyPOV 

      A very good start at Microsoft TechEd – nicely tying together the recent events around CloudforMobile, Build, Sharepoint etc. Anderson did a great job bringing together all the messages and loose ends these events left open. And certainly Microsoft is a master at connecting the higher grounds (i.e. its strong points) – tirelessly connecting ActiveDirectory, Officer and a daily growing Azure.

      More about Microsoft:
      • First Take - Microsoft discovers data ambience and delivers an organic approach to in memory database - read here
      • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Azure grows and blossoms - enough for enterprises (yet)? Read here.
      • Event Report - Microsoft Build Day 1 Keynote - Top Enterprise Takeaways - read here.
      • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquire Nokia - read here.
      • Microsoft does not need one new CEO - but six - read here.
      • Microsoft makes the cloud a platform play - Or: Azure and her 7 friends - read here.
      • How the Cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
      • How hard is multi-channel CRM in 2013? - Read here.
      • How hard is it to install Office 365? Or: The harsh reality of customer support - read here.
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We had the opportunity to catch up with the Cornerstone executive team for almost a day of briefings around the Cornerstone user conference in San Diego this week. And it was a packed agenda, with CEO Adam Miller kicking off, followed by Product Management leadership, Services leadership, Product development leadership and three customer success stories. 

      Here are my top 3 takeaways of the briefing and the conference:

      • Good fundamentals– Cornerstone is certainly showing solid to good fundamentals. The company has a clear vision – be a ‘specialist [for talent management] amongst generalists [for all of HR]’ and keeps building on that. It certainly is good that Cornerstone is one of the fewer SaaS provider to have an ambition and plan to achieve profitability soon. When polling executives on their plans and challenges in their respective functions on the path to profitability we heard good and realistic assessment of the challenges. Profitability is a key factor to watch for HCM (and all SaaS) vendors – as ultimately vendors have to turn that corner, and while turning, there may be adverse reactions for their R&D investment, which hits SaaS customers particularly hard. Not the case for Cornerstone, which is very positive news.

        But Cornerstone goes beyond financial health, it was good to see that the company is also addressing technology health. All vendors acquire significant technical debt over time, and it is key to address that better sooner than later. For SaaS vendor addressing technology debt is a significant challenge, as they need to innovate while keeping the lights on. We can’t share too many details but it is good to see Cornerstone doing the good and necessary housekeeping activities its customer expect and deserve. 

      Slide from Analyst Briefing Presentation


      • Vision of Talent Management – Cornerstone has reached completion in Talent Management, with which it means the full talent lifecycle from Recruiting, over Onboarding, Learning, Performance Management, Compensation and Succession Management. The new Onboarding module completes that cycle now. Now that all key areas of Talent Automation are there – it’s key for Cornerstone to keep differentiating from smaller single automation area vendors (mostly startups) and strengthen the integrated Talent Management Suite story versus similar competitors and the ERP vendors. For that Cornerstone will have to demonstrate thought leadership and help its customers to come along for the transformation that their enterprises need to undertake to become an enterprise with an integrated Talent Management system. 
      Slide from Analyst Briefing Presentation

      • A marketplace– These days we see marketplaces popping up left and right – but mostly by the PaaS (see IBM and HP in recent weeks) vendors – not the enterprise automation vendors. And while there have been plenty of learning and courseware marketplaces – there has not been a category (here Talent Management) encompassing marketplace. So credit to some thought leadership and innovation goes to Cornerstone. The vendor will certainly select the usual partners – that are on the marketplace already – the real value will be tapped though when customers will be sharing best practices and custom work. The intriguing element is that Cornerstone has all the assets to make such a collaborative, customer sourced market place reality. Consider a Belgian (totally coincidental country pick) tax compliance report that just got legislated: Cornerstone has the collaboration abilities for its Belgian customers to collaborate, coordinate and share the creation of such a custom report. How that could be and would be monetized is a very different story, but it all starts with the customer enablement code. 


      MyPOV

      A good user conference for Cornerstone, with energized customers and a vibrant ecosystem. The vendor now needs to keep innovating not only in architecture and infrastructure – but also for its Talent Management products. A new Onboarding is a good job, but Onboarding is a table-stake and will not win the integrated Talent Management battle.
       

      The good news is, that management has realized this and we are eager to see what is coming next. In the meantime Cornerstone must improve its Recruiting functionality and must keep an eye on Learning to keep its strong market and functional position in that automation area. So plenty of work ahead, we will check back soon.



      More on Cornerstone

      • Cornerstone re-imagines Talent Mangament - and itself - read here

      More on Recruiting
      • Musings - What is the future of Recruiting? Read here
      • Why all the attention to Recruiting? Read here

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We had the opportunity to attend NetSuite’s SuiteWorld conference in San Jose this week. It was a successful event for NetSuite with over 6500 attendees overall, great partner presence while still being a walk able event at the McEnery convention center. 



      As usual NetSuite has released a barrage of news releases – so let’s look at my top 3 takeaways from the event: 

      • A new user interface– This has been an area where NetSuite has been lagging compared to other web competitors and it is good to see the company making progress on this front. While the new UI seems to be only a small improvement at first look, once looked at it in detail it delivers tangible benefits to NetSuite users. From the demos we saw we expect the Dashboards and the improved List Pages as the major usability improvements users will experience. But let’s not forget that NetSuite does something very well that most competitors do not do – support the professional users really well. The NetSuite table control remains one of the best controls out there in the market place. On the flipside NetSuite needs to probably re-think that the one size fits all user interface will be hard to maintain when having to service the professional user and the casual user really well. And NetSuite is moving more towards the casual user with its push to provide more HCM automation (more below). Lastly it’s only fair to remember that NetSuite allows probably the highest degree of customization of its apps amongst the larger web players, and that makes UI innovation and renovation a little trickier than in other places. So NetSuite has bought probably 2-3 years of time before having to come up with a completely new user interface. (Here is the UI press release). 
      Picture take at new UI Demo

      • Re-inventing the General Ledger (GL)– Clearly one of the most impressive areas NetSuite showed at SuiteWorld was the work around the GL, with its new CloudGL offering. Finance departments and their leaders will be excited about the new capabilities to create customer GL Lines (coming with NetSuite Version 2014.2 in the 2nd half of 2014), custom Transaction Types (coming with NetSuite Version 2015.1 in the 1st half of 2015) and custom GL Segments (you guessed it – coming with NetSuite Version 2015.2 coming in the 2nd half of 2015). So quite a staggered roll out – but that will give Finance departments time to learn and implement the new capabilities). NetSuite will also have to address potential fears and concerns around compliance and performance when creating custom GL code. But that’s a good problem to have versus facing the alternative of a ‘take it or leave it – this is SaaS’ approach to GL (which is often heard in the industry) (and the press release is here). 

      Goldberg presents SuiteGL

      • HCM traction– It is only about 6 months ago that NetSuite acquired TribeHR. NetSuite’s HCM strategy has gone through quite some directional changes – from a multi partner approach a SuiteWorld 2013, to a partnership with Oracle Fusion HCM for large accounts (over 2000 employees, we covered it here) and then to the acquisition of TribeHR (we covered it here). And HCM is a huge potential market for NetSuite, which on its own had only covered Payroll for the USA and Incentive Compensation, now with TribeHR it covers Core HR, Recruiting and Performance Management. So quite some progress in 12 months that should give NetSuite customers enough to evaluate using more of NetSuite HCM automation. The social DNA that TribeHR brings to HCM is certainly a good differentiator – and Goldberg did not get tired in the keynote to show the benefits of running HCM together with Finance and Sales automation.

        And no surprise – HCM was the first area of automation Goldberg showed in his keynote. It was good to see that TribeHR functionality is already available in NetSuite look and feel -always one of the early steps after an acquisition. In meetings with the former TribeHR CEO Joseph Fung and his team it was good to see that the TribeHR talent is on board and excited to be part of NetSuite. Not surprisingly there is s a strong push to bring HCM country localization to core HR. And SuiteWorld also feature the launch of TribeHR on iOS (press release here) a good solid mobile application featuring Employee Directory, Time Off Management, Recognition Management and not surprisingly for social savvy TribeHR team – a news feed. So encouraging first steps by NetSuite in the HCM area – it will now have to chart a roadmap in the next 6 months and share it with customers and prospects to give them a chance to align their HCM automation needs with the NetSuite HCM roadmap. 

      TribeHR Employee Profile in NetSuite UI

      Implications, Implications

      So what does this mean for... 

      • NetSuite customers & prospects – Customers should be appreciative of the investment NetSuite is making. It is key that a SaaS provider keeps innovating and doing good housekeeping activities without customers noticing too much. The new user interface will be certainly an asset coming later in 2014. When NetSuite has formulated a roadmap for its HCM offering we recommend customers to evaluate the existing and coming HCM offerings. There is a lot of benefits to make from running an integrated suite in the cloud and if you look across all enterprise automation, HCM was one of the last pieces NetSuite needs to address. 

      • NetSuite partners – There can be no doubt there is traction in the NetSuite platform. Now it’s time to differentiate and chart a course how to carve out an attractive niche in the NetSuite ecosystem. Cloud integration and complimentary technical and functional offerings are the looming opportunities. 

      • NetSuite – Good progress and good to see the company challenging and improving its product all the way to the core. NetSuite now needs to show it can keep delivering to its many promised deliverables. But that is business as usual now. Becoming more global beyond North American and particularly how to get traction in APAC will be the overall commercial NetSuite topics to watch. 

      • Competitors – If you were hoping for NetSuite to rest – that hope did not materialize. Certainly NetSuite feels the burden and responsibility of over 20k customers – but that’s what competitors also want to get. Differentiation options loom around more standard based cloud stacks, reporting, persona driven user experience and BigData, maybe even Social and Collaboration. 

       

      MyPOV

      NetSuite is showing good progress and looks to be on track with its ambitious development agenda. We welcome the aggressive hiring on the R&D side as otherwise these plans are not unlikely to all realize themselves. It’s good to see NetSuite actively tackling issues around user interface and reporting, but much more needs to be done (a year ago our key takeaway was the aging UI – read here). And it’s likewise good to see NetSuite tackling the HCM area, a huge potential for NetSuite and its customers – but NetSuite needs to chart and then communicate its course for HCM first.



      More about NetSuite

      • Why NetSuite acquired TribeHR - read here
      • Act III the cloud changes everything - Oracle and NetSuite with a touche of Deloitte - read here
      • Act III and final day - A tale of two conferences - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
      • The middle day - 2 keynotes and press releases - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
      • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      SAP’s Sapphire conference is coming next week, June 1st to 5th– so it’s time to get some thoughts down on what SAP should address this Sapphire. If you care – my takeaways of the 2013 Orlando Sapphire are here.


      But first of all kudos to whoever is in control of messaging – as no major leaks have come out of SAP till now. 2013 was a very different story, where pretty much all that could be announced before – has been announced before.

      No doubt it will be a mega event for SAP – let’s just hope there will be less hyperbole and more a focus on what can be done in the next 12 months with a new executive leadership setup. Obviously the spot light has to be on product leadership, which after Vishal Sikka’s surprising departure now rests in Bernd Leukert’s hands. Sapphire may be too early to understand who is who in SAP product development, but it will be key to at least address directional changes. Leaving a product like ByDesign ‘rudderless’ in the ‘refactoring doldrums’ [apologies for the nautical vocabulary, I have done a lot of sailing the last two weeks] – needs to be addressed
       .

      The Future

      The 1 Billion user ambition has been toned down from my perspective. We will see if McDermott resurrects it or replaces it. No matter what, SAP needs to create a vision for the next generation business applications. Putting the Business Suite on HANA is a great technical achievement, but does not enable enterprise to operate successfully as digital businesses in 2014 and beyond. And let’s not forget that most business automaton in Business Suite on HANA is coming courtesy of the good old R/3 – so it’s certainly proven and trusted – but is the byte incarnation of last century's business best practice. Before the ascension of the internet, BigData, Mobile etc. 
      Whatever McDermott will present – we would like to see him err on the side of realism for what customers want and SAP can deliver. If he asks for patience to sort it out and come back later in the year is a better outcome than over promising and under delivering. This was a trap a former SAP CEO who came from the sales side – Leo Apoteker – stepped into – with his promise of ‘no more upgrades’.

      To be fair to SAP – its ERP competitors have not successfully addressed that either – as all vendors are more focusing on technology advances than business practice thought leadership. This was the area where SAP excelled in the last century and has now the opportunity to get some of that mojo back.
       
      The Integration Story

      I keep raising this area prominently as SAP and its customers have massive integration projects to implement, run and operate. And with SAP's clear direction to hybrid cloud the need for very good integration options and platforms does increase even more. What we learnt in the last twelve months is that NetWeaver is not the platform, but HANA is. Sure – with re-purposed NetWeaver code fragments – but it is new. SAP will have to address the vision on how customers can run hybrid cloud and 3rd party applications. As long as SAP does not address the integration areas successfully, the never-ending Tibco (replace by Software AG / Informatica etc.) acquisition rumors will not ebb away.

      SAP needs to realize that the ‘grass looks greener’ at the competition: Oracle has a now well proven Fusion Middleware, and even Infor has a better story with Ion. And this has been a looming problem since a few years – so the executive changes should not affect SAP’s ability to address this topic. The product plans have to have been in the making… somewhere. Hopefully.
       

      Cloud

      It is 12 months now that SAP threw customers, partners and observers in the HCP vs HEC confusion. There have been too many attempts to explain it, but confusion remains abundant. Time to clarify and simplify the messaging. Competitors just call it e.g. the IBMCloud. Then of course you need to open the hood and find all what is beneath it – but that’s an ugly picture for all vendors that can automate all of ERP and CRM.

      The irony is that the IaaS vendors are all chasing load to make the economies of scale for their cloud infrastructure investments pay. And SAP has a huge, relatively conform enterprise load to offer. That SAP does not loudly and proudly partner with all major IaaS vendors remains a mystery to me. It might be the ugly picture under the hood that holds SAP back – but the alternative is a huge capital investment with the risk that customers will be demanding SAP to run e.g. on Amazon AWS anyway – and not trust a proprietary SAP cloud infrastructure. The inflection point for customers is Infor’s plan to run its products in production on AWS by  this summer.

      As a minimal goal it would be good to see SAP joining the OpenStack band of vendors – this is and remains a trusted way of doing cloud for most CIOs and will rope in most of the SAP hardware partner ecosystem (HP, IBM etc.). On the PaaS side it will be interesting to understand SAP’s relationship with Pivotal better.
       

      HANA

      This area certainly has made the most progress, no debate. And with SAP recently announcing that the Suite on Hana customer numbers have moved beyond the magic 1000 marker – it is also getting traction in an area where it matters most – running SAP applications. And as HANA was clearly Sikka’s baby – it will be interesting to see who will now look after the product that is in kindergarten age by now. Probably Hasso Plattner will take that role in the short term, but it will be crucial to see who will be SAP’s future technology vision leader.

      It will be key for SAP to articulate vision and roadmap on the technology side going forward – as Oracle 12c (with the in memory option) is coming along this summer, and given the large install base of SAP customers on Oracle’s RDBMS, SAP needs to account for Oracle aggressively vying for the Wall Street Journal advertisement on page one, stating that more SAP customers run on Oracle 12c than on HANA. All we know that if it happens, the advertisement will be seen on a…. Thursday.
       

      Mobile

      Two years ago SAP was trying the 100 mph start for its mobile business, unleashing over 100 mobile applications. It then has become quieter. Mobile applications have been built in questionable areas for a B2B enterprise software vendor - like fashion and sports. And as well as they may have been a good consumer grade proving ground for SAP – the real B2B application automation strategy for mobile needs to evolve. Similar like the integration story, there should be no excuses from the recent executive changes – SAP has to have had something cooking in the mobile area. An absence in the messaging would be questioning what SAP has been doing in this area in the last 2-3 years. Mobile has been an area that it has been deeming as important and strategic all the way back starting with the Sybase acquisition.
       

      Social & Collaboration

      My challenge with SAP and Social is, that I have never seen SAP executives talk as comfortable about Social  and Collaboration as I see them addressing e.g. Mobile or Analytics. This is a pity as Social has tremendous potential in the enterprise world of truly transforming the way people work. So my hope is that the valiant team around Sameer Patel will go beyond the ‘5th wheel’ and become a more integral part of the keynotes and overall SAP strategy. That may require more than the capabilities acquired and built around Jam / Cubetree. In the meantime that team is doing the right thing with priming the ecosystem to build social capabilities, but that is more likely out of necessity than ideal product strategy. There I would much more see SAP establishing a roadmap for each of its LOB applications on how they will uptake social and collaboration techniques to enable modern processes.
       
      BigData

      Given all the focus on HANA, SAP has neglected its relationship and vision of BigData. At the TechEd conference it looked like SAP was going for the co-existence strategy between HANA and BigData. If that is enough is questionable in my view, as SAP’s reliance on RAM for HANA storage puts it on a defensive position cost wise. And while it is true that RAM prices are falling, even falling fast, the amount of relevant data that businesses need to crunch for crucial insights is growing faster. That unequivocally leads to BigData and if SAP wants to have a piece of this vital business, it needs to address the area of Hadoop / NoSQL etc. better sooner than later. SAP’s whole Business Intelligence and Datawarehouse franchise is at risk here.
       

      Line of Business – what is the vision?

      Compared to the technology side, acquisitions on the core ERP (or as SAP calls it LOB) application side has been quiet. And while SAP has acquired hybris and Fieldglass in the last 12 months, it has not painted the picture for its next generation enterprise application vision. And that ultimately has to come from its Line of Business product development teams.

      We may see a new Finance module that is under development – but what are the next steps in Supply Chain, Purchasing, CRM etc.? It will be interesting to see if these will make it to keynotes – or remain relegated to the product sessions. It is vital for SAP to realize that attendees are looking for arguments from SAP why they should not buy e.g. Salesforce.com or Workday - just to mention two examples. 

      The only area with noticeable noise and traction has been the HCM area – with the former SuccessFactors products winning very good positions in the quadrants and waves of our analyst colleagues. But in HCM SAP will have to address what will happen beyond Employee Central – more focus on Payroll, Workforce Management or moving the Talent Management modules of SuccessFactors over to HANA?

      The overall question in the LOB area remains – when will acquired products like SuccessFactors and Ariba (or more recent ones like hybris and Fieldglass) be running on HANA and / or integrated with traditional in house built SAP products. But maybe the need to use HANA for everything will reduce itself and a more tactical approach will take its place in regards of data migration. The latter would not be of disadvantage to SAP in our view, as a pragmatic approach usually wins over (a maybe) overzealous technical strategy. Nonetheless it is good see the recent move of some Ariba functionality to HANA (our view on it is here).

      Pricing and maintenance

      SAP has largely overcome the issues around rising its maintenance prices – at least we do not hear that quite often making noise in the install base as in the past. But the key question remains – how much innovation do maintenance paying customers receive for their quite substantial payments. That has led to some debate in the ecosystem around SAP’s mobile applications (e.g. for HCM) and other SAP innovations like Fiori. SAP will do well at clarifying what customers can expect for paying maintenance and what not. It will have to address in that context – as SAP wants to become a cloud company – what the difference between a subscription paying and a maintenance paying customer is. At the very moment it looks like the subscription paying customer maybe better off in regards of product innovation – a situation that SAP should not let be un-addressed for too long. Even if the communication will not be popular – a clear direction by McDermott on what is the return of a maintenance payment in regards of innovation will be well received by customers and the ecosystem overall.
       
      Vision & Thought Leadership
      So the question really is which way will it be for SAP going ahead. It took the company a few years to become an applications AND a technology company. This Sapphire will be a good test if SAP is still following the same direction – or if there are more applications in its future (my prediction here).

      If the technology side will remain prominent, we should see a follow up on the direction shown at the last TechEd in Bangalore, where SAP made a big pitch for the developer (read here). Granted the typical Sapphire audience is not the developer – but there is a community of technical attendees that should hear more SAP’s plans around the development language River and SAP’s overall direction towards PaaS. We will pay attention if that happens.

      It’s probably more likely that we will see a lot of mobile, Fiori, Analytics in McDermott’s keynote – and more HANA and hopefully cloud infrastructure with Plattner. But it’s all speculation now. Maybe not worth the bytes it is stored in right now by next Wednesday…
       

      MyPOV

      A key Sapphire for SAP is coming up. While the executive changes are in the books and it will be interesting to see how McDermott and Leukert will perform – the key is going to be if and how SAP will address its vision for next generation applications. It is getting time for SAP to find its business automation DNA again. The technical innovation work with HANA has been done, SAP is now at a cross roads on how much the technology message vs the application message will be first of all in its overall messaging and then in its product roadmap and lastly product delivery mix. We will be there to observe.


      And more on overall SAP strategy

      • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
      • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
      • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
      • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
      • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
      • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
      • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
      • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
      • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
      • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
      • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
      • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
      • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
      • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
      • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.


      And more about SAP technology:

      • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
      • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
      • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
      • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
      • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
      • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
      • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
      • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
      • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
      • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.

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      Innovation has been fueling the recruiting industry for quite some time. And given the competitive nature of recruiting – one of the few areas in the HR practice where a professional can be fired pretty quickly for non-performance – it’s not a surprise.



      To visit the areas where technology innovation can help in the recruiting process – let’s break the recruiting process down to its most fundamental pieces, the FQSO process:


      • Find
        Find the candidates, and get them to interact, then to apply. 

      • Qualifiy
        Qualify the candidates that have (or have not) applied. 
      • Select
        Select the best candidate from interviews (and other means).
         
      • Onboard
        Onboard the candidate, make the offer, get them signed up with benefits etc. etc.
         

      Find – Social reverses the process with micro headhunting

      The largest innovation we see is the reversal of the Find process from the honey-pot model to micro headhunting. Instead of waiting (and hoping) for candidates to be found on job boards, candidates will be actively recruited through social networks. We know this works both from the employee referral success – where basically the employee has done a real world social network analysis on the candidate and the executive headhunting model, where successful headhunter place their Rolodex members multiple time over their careers. The micro headhunting trend can be best seen with the success that LinkedIn has with its recruiting offerings.
       

      Qualify – Analytics and BigData drive change

      Candidate qualification has been left for the longest to personal judgment of the recruiter and hiring managers. Not that they won’t matter in the future – but most humans cannot select by more than 5-7 criteria from a number of decision options. Will that decision get better when you go to 20, 50 or 100 criteria? It certainly will. The good news is, that with the rise of BigData we can for the first time store the wealth of information and consider it all. Couple the data storage with next generation analytics – that are model agnostic and simply bootstrap analytical models over the data – and we will see some never before seen candidates at the front of the qualification queue.

      Assuming an enterprise has added the micro headhunting capability it also enables that enterprise to go back to actively Find the candidates of the right caliber – should the first wave of candidates not been qualified enough.
       

      Select – Scheduling and Video increase quality, mobile drives efficiency

      In the traditional recruiting modus operandi we would now see candidates being invited for phone and onsite interviews. Scheduling these is a logistical nightmare – so scheduling software that is tuned to the needs of the recruiting process (aware e.g. the hiring funnel, candidate attractiveness etc.) makes a huge difference. And video allows to replace the single sensory phone interview into a multi-sensory experience that unquestionably leads to better selection results in the Select phase. With the support of tablets and smartphones during the interview process, vendors are already making the interview process itself more efficient.

      Assuming an enterprise has added the Analytics and BigData capabilities in the Qualify phase – then it can treat the video data as qualification data, too. All of the sudden information on facial expression, body language, voice modulation etc. becomes part of the qualification data pool. And with that analytical models can factor all of those into the candidate selection process. While legal concerns may loom, anybody who has hired someone knows that all these factors play an explicit to implicit role in the decision process.
       

      Onboard – Time to get it right

      The irony is that the Onboard function is probably the least innovative one of the four, and therefore less subject to potential technology disruption. But the challenge is that Onboarding in most enterprises is fundamentally broken and practically an incarnation of the system integration mess many enterprises have created. But it’s time to get onboarding right, as the sooner the new hire is productive on the job, the better ROI of the hiring process – and with that it’s an area both the Chief People Officer and the Chief Executive Officer should ignore.
       

      FQSO does not operate by itself

      Let’s not forget that the whole recruiting process of the future will not run by itself – the role of the recruiter will fundamentally change, the hiring manager will take over the process and maintain a continuous talent depth chart for every existing and potential future position – as I have laid out here in more detail.
       

      MyPOV

      Innovation with technology has been mankind’s secret of success. Whoever mastered the technology earlier had a considerable advantage over the other players. Given the war for talent, the increased cost for personnel that are all trends enterprises are facing – the right usage and dosage of technology to innovate in recruiting while be a key success factor for enterprises in the remaining teenage years of the 21st century. Better to get started earlier than later.




      More on Recruiting
      • Musings - What is the future of recruiting? Read here
      • HRTech 2014 takeaways - Read here.
      • Why all the attention to recruiting? Read here.

      And  more on Payroll:


      • Could the paycheck re-invent HCM – yes it can – read here.
      • And suddenly, payroll matters again! Read here.
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      It was a privilege to be invited to the first HireVue user conference at the beautiful Stein Ericsen lodge in Park City, Utah. Great to see the company embracing its location, showing off the beauty of the Wasatch Mountains and treating attendees to a 100% Utah sourced welcome reception. 



      Here are my three top takeaways from the Day 1 Keynote:

      • Very good corporate DNA – It’s always good to see when entrepreneurs make it – but when they start their company as college students and have to persevere till the technology is viable – it is even a more compelling story. In HireVue’s case Newman started in college, and struggled with the viability of personal video back then. The company used to mail webcams out to customers and candidates, with uncertain odds of successful installation on site. Luckily with more and more hardware having front facing cameras, this is no longer an issue. With Sequoia Capital and others the company has VC and investors with a very strong reputation for long term investment, something HireVue will need as it invests into product (it doubled its R&D resources) and expands abroad (it just opened the UK as a beachhead to Europe). But ultimately software is build, sold and supported by people and it was great to see a humble but energized management team, characteristics reflected and lived well by the large employee force onsite, too. So overall a very promising corporate DNA. 
      Picture of HireVue Reporting
      • Mobile matters– It was good to see HireVue fully embracing mobile. The company showed off new tablet and smartphone support (iOS and Android) and thus providing more productivity to applicants, recruiters and interviewers. The user interfaces were clean and well designed, the next stage being a full embrace or responsive design mechanics across platforms. What ultimately matters to customers and prospects is, that neither applicants in the application process nor employees will be left without appropriate mobile support. 

      Picture of HireVue Analytics
      • (True) Analytics– In my view this was the highlight of the keynote. Too many enterprise vendors use the term analytics too loosely and often the term gets hijacked by the marketers on a quest for a new term for BI / reporting / dashboards. Our test for true analytics is, that they either do something directly or at least propose a set of actions to a user. And we are glad to state that HireVue’s analytics pass that test, recommending more likely to succeed candidates to the recruiters. The company has choosen a wise staggered analytical model deployment approach with a default model, an enhanced companywide model and all the way to a position based model to make decision / recommendations on who to interview (and likely hire) first. The more information HireVue customers disclose – the more advanced the model at their disposal, all the way to the position based model. HireVue has gotten some key things for analytics success right – a business user driven rating of success and progressive improvement of the analytical model as more data comes to its disposal. This makes HireVue one of the first vendors to deploy (true) analytical models for day to day HCM decisions (other vendors are working on this, too – but it is still largely work in progress for them). 

      MyPOV – HireVue has reached a clear leading position in the fast emerging video recruiting market, other vendors have acknowledged that with numerous partnership. The company is taking the right steps in product development to maintain that lead and has proven pundits wrong that Salt Lake City cannot be a great startup location. Its global expansion poses new opportunities and challenges it needs to address and fund, but it is too early to call where that is going. HireVue is the enviable position that the implementation of its software has a positive quantitative ROI, something that does not happen often in enterprise software history. Now it comes to drive behavior change in enterprises on how they recruit talent.

      In the longer run the company needs to find a second area of automation that it will invest into and excel in. Life at the top is great, but the air – like at Stein Ericsen Lodge – is dry and thin. Executives have realized that – but not shared yet what that area will be. But they have some time to tackle these strategic questions.



      More on Recruiting
      • Musings - How Technology Innovation fuels Recruiting and disrupts the Laggards - read here
      • Musings - What is the future of recruiting? Read here
      • HRTech 2014 takeaways - Read here.
      • Why all the attention to recruiting? Read here.

      And  more on Payroll:

      • Could the paycheck re-invent HCM – yes it can – read here.
      • And suddenly, payroll matters again! Read here.
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

      0 0

      We are attending Sapphire 2014 in Orlando and it’s time to see how the SAP under soon to be sole CEO Bill McDermott will start messaging and communicating


      And different it was with a 30 minute start with young leaders presenting how they change things with Innovation, being polyglot, starting radio stations in Africa and learning to code. Nice – but begged the question what it had to do with SAP and why it got so much room in the keynote. 

      So here are my top 3 takeaways from the keynote – enriched by impressions and answers from the press conference
      • Simplicity comes back– The new mantra is all around simplicity. Always a good message as enterprises battle complexities. For SAP (and all enterprise software vendors) it’s not easy to create simplicity, as to make simplicity happen - a lot of complexity needs to be mastered behind the scenes. And when errors are made or leaks happen, that complexity gets exposed and it is never a pretty picture. But let’s give SAP credit for making it the new leitmotiv and watch through the next quarters as the simplicity message materializes. 


      • Fiori blossoms without price tag - SAP (finally) turned the corner on the licensing. Barring more details, it sounds like maintenance paying customers will get Fiori for free, customers who have licensed Fiori will get a credit towards future purchases. It’s good to see SAP addressing the issue, which became probably quickly untenable. The question remains how SAP will be able to charge for innovation in the grey areas of integrating existing and new IP assets.



        • Ariba gets a boost– The probably most impactful announcement (and the press release is not out) is SAP giving a boost to Ariba with a 30 day free offer to get suppliers on to the Ariba Network. A good move as Ariba is one of the hidden and highest potential assets for SAP and its customers. 

        MyPOV– A good start for SAP’s Sapphire conference – though a slow start to the keynote. But then McDermott laid out the challenges for SAP ahead – simplicity. It is good to see that simplicity goes beyond products – but also the simplicity (and ease) to do business with SAP. Now we have to see what happens in the next days and next quarters where and what SAP will deliver and how.

        And more on overall SAP strategy

        • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
        • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
        • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
        • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
        • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
        • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
        • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
        • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
        • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
        • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
        • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
        • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
        • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
        • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
        • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
        • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
        • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
        • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
        • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.


        And more about SAP technology:

        • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
        • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
        • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
        • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
        • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
        • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
        • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
        • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
        • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
        • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.
        Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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