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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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    We had the opportunity to attend ADP's 25th Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) user conference, held in Orlando at the Walldorf / Hilton from March 18th till 23rd 2018.



    Take a look at the event video first (if it does not show up - please check here):



    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):

    Event Report - ADP Meeting of the Minds 2018 - Stay the course from Holger Mueller

    Want to read on? Here you go:









    If you want to learn more about the keynote, key tweets are collected in this Twitter Moment here.


    MyPOV

    A good event for ADP customers and prospects. ADP keeps delivering on a steady pace and creates value for its customer base. The focus on diversity and inclusion is high on people leader's agenda, so it is no surprise that ADP also focuses on this important topic. Good to see also the first TMBC assets making it to the mainstream North American customer base that ADP is targeting with its Meeting of the Minds conference.

    On the concern side,  ADP is moving at a conservative, maybe too slow speed. One year is enough time for most vendors to create integrated value from an acquisition like TMBC. And ADP announced its new payroll product, Pi, back at the HR Tech conference in fall - so an update to the MOTM attendees would have been timely. Not to mention ADP's new HR core system Lifion, that ADP advertises for talent publicly, but choose to mention in Orlando. It's always good for enterprises software vendors to be conservative and quality focused, and ADP customers certainly expect that, but vendors can't be too slow rolling out differentiating capabilities either. 

    Overall a good event, customers and ecosystem are happy with the progress. A lot of new innovation should see the light at ADP MOTM 2019, fingers crossed. Stay tuned. 


    More on ADP:
    • Event Report - ADP ReThink - Great event and a lot in the making  - read here
    • Market Move - ADP Acquires WorkMarket to Further Extend Human Capital Management to Contingent Workers [...] - The Gig Economy looms on the Future of Work- read here
    • Progress Report - ADP pushes on - 2018 will be BIG - read here
    • Event Report - ADP MOTM - Time get customers on board!? Read here
    • Event Report – ADP ReThink – Great event and great value coming for customers  - read here
    • News Analysis - ADP Acquires The Marcus Buckingham Company to Expand Talent Portfolio - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day 2016 - ADP has turned around Vantage HCM - read here
    • Event Report - Event Report - ADP MOTM - ADP delivers: New UI, Benchmarks, Market Place & More - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday and ADP partner to Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience for Global Payroll - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day - ADP executes, kills (most) ghosts from the past - read here
    • Event Report - ADP Meeting of the Minds - It’s all coming together for ADP in 2015 - product wise - read here
    • First Take - ADP Meeting of the Minds - Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP shows great vision, delivers product innovation - now it needs adoption - read here
    • Site Visit - ADP's new innovation lab in Chelsea - read here
    • 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.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend Oracle’s HCM World conference, held from March 20th till 22nd in Dallas. Held in the busiest week of the spring conference circuit, the conference had good analyst and influencer representation and was overall well attended (Oracle claimed 2200+). 



    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)

    ):

    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):



    Want to read on? Here you go:

    Oracle keeps delivering in HCM– Since its early beginning the Oracle HCM product, has done well and is growing at an almost metronomic takt rate. New capabilities are created in the product, and Oracle delivers customer adoption of them in the following 6-12 months. Customers, partners and the overall ecosystem is now on the by-yearly announcement schedule of HCM World in Spring and OpenWorld in Fall, and in between customer adoption manifests themselves in go lives. The result is likely the most comprehensive singe platform HCM Suite in the market. 


    Oracle HCM Cloud HCM World Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Oracle HCM Cloud Spring 2018 Release Highlights


    Good DNA in Spring 2018 Release– Along the same lines the 2018 Spring release of Oracle HCM Cloud is a rich release that pushes the boundaries. Oracle replaced and strengthened the Onboarding capabilities in the suite. Given the best practice uncertainty that at the moment plagues Performance Management, Oracle has (wisely) opted for a suite of performance management tools. People leaders can choose from four different approaches to address performance management in their enterprise. The good news is that they can even choose to use different best practices / flavors of performance management across the enterprise – slice and dice by operating company, division, people type etc. The right approach and it will be interesting to see adoption. And last but not least more AI, no conference without AI in 2018… Oracle pointed out that it always has had some form of ‘intelligence’ but no the offerings are serious and it’s good to see Oracle speak of AI (vs the a tad misaligned ‘adaptive intelligence’ term of the past. 


    Oracle HCM Cloud HCM World Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    The new Oracle HCM Cloud UX paradigm


    A new UX - Having been a critic of the Oracle HCM UI for a long time, the new UX is a welcome first step in the right direction to improve this situation. Not surprisingly Oracle opts for the mobile focus of the largest user population, and for the high volume transaction. The new UX looks modern, easy to use and has some of the key inner workings a UX in 2017 should have – it’s responsive and can be used across devices and form factors as well takes an aggressive stance on defaulting, suggesting entries. At the core is a newsfeed paradigm, that users are familiar with from consumer websites. The newsfeed manages to collapse menu structures and to surface the relevant information at the right time. Not easy to get right - think of the challenges Facebook has had getting this UX right, but from what we saw about the Oracle HCM newsfeed, it's a well working first implementation in an Oracle enterprise application.  All welcome by busy enterprise users, who have to do a real job and can’t afford to be held up too long by administrative systems (like any HCM system). Next step is to check in on customer feedback, roll out plans and roadmap.


    Oracle HCM Cloud HCM World Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Oracle has invested to get the Newsfeed right

    MyPOV

    A good HCM World for Oracle, the product keeps progressing and customers and ecosystem are positive. Customers tap more and more into the suite benefits, adding modules after originally going live on more administrative functions as ESS / MSS and Payroll. Needless from the start though, suite level benefits are tangible and create productivity for users as well as HR departments, all leading to a more positive stance towards the product, in this case Oracle HCM Cloud.

    On the concern side the event seemed smaller than last years events. Maybe the timing and the location in Dallas did not help. But in general you expect a growing attendee number. Equally in the ecosystem we saw less partner activity... it looks like Deloitte (for NA SIs) and Infosys (for the Indian SIs) seem to have capture the pool position. Next year's HCM World will be a data point on how much Oracle can activate users and prospects to come to an event like this on. For the record, happy users do not need to travel to user conferences as much, as they know what's coming and are busy implementing and using the software.

    But overall a good event for Oracle customers and prospects. Oracle HCM Cloud is probably the most complete, single platform, single code base HCM Suite out there. Stay tuned.



    More on Oracle:
    • Event Report - Oracle Open World 2017 - Top 3 Positives / Top 3 Concerns - Overall good - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle Unveils New Programs that Transform how Customers Buy and Consume Cloud – Gloves Off - read here
    • Summer 2017 News Analysis - Oracle invests in IaaS (or at least CAPEX) - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle empties the barrel - Revolver style (6) Cloud News Analyses - read here
    • Musings - Does Oracle and Accenture make sense - or never ever! - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle HCM Analyst Summit 2017 - Oracle HCM stronger and stronger - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle OpenWorld - the HCM perspective - Almost no news, but wait... - read here.
    • First Take - Early Oracle OpenWorld 2016 Keynotes - read here
    • Event Preview - Oracle OpenWorld 2016 - What to expect, what to watch for ... will IaaS start Clicking? - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle Unveils Suite of Breakthrough Services.. or short: Oracle Cloud Machine - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle Cloud - More ready than ever, now needs adoption - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle Openworld 2015 - Top 3 Takeaways, Top 3 Positives & Concerns - read here
    • News Analysis - Quick Take on all 22 press releases of Oracle OpenWorld Day #1 - #3 - read here
    • First Take - Oracle OpenWorld - Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Oracle Openworld - watch here

    Future of Work / HCM / SaaS research:
    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Innovation around the Core - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Full Steam ahead, a Learning surprise and potential growth challenges - read here
    • First Take - Oracle HCM World Day #1 Keynote - off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle HCM gathers momentum - now it needs to build on that - read here
    • Oracle pushes modern HR - there is more than technology - read here. (Takeaways from the recent HCMWorld conference).
    • Why Applications Unlimited is good a good strategy for Oracle customers and Oracle - read here.

    Also worth a look for the full picture
    • Event Report - Oracle PaaS Event - 6 PaaS Services become available, many more announced - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle Cloud makes progress - but key work remains in the cellar - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle discovers the power of the two socket server - or: A pivot that wasn't one - TCO still rules - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle buys Datalogix - moves more into DaaS - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle Openworld - Oracle's vision and remaining work become clear - they are both big - read here
    • Constellation Research Video Takeaways of Oracle Openworld 2014 - watch here
    • Is it all coming together for Oracle in 2014? Read here
    • From the fences - Oracle AR Meeting takeaways - read here (this was the last analyst meeting in spring 2013)
    • Takeaways from Oracle CloudWorld LA - read here (this was one of the first cloud world events overall, in January 2013)

    And if you want to read more of my findings on Oracle technology - I suggest:
    • Progress Report - Good cloud progress at Oracle and a two step program - read here.
    • Oracle integrates products to create its Foundation for Cloud Applications - read here.
    • Java grows up to the enterprise - read here.
    • 1st take - Oracle in memory option for its database - very organic - read here.
    • Oracle 12c makes the database elastic - read here.
    • How the cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • Act I - Oracle and Microsoft partner for the cloud - read here.
    • Act II - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Salesforce.com - read here.
    • Act III - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Netsuite with a touch of Deloitte - read here
    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend IBM's Think conference held in Las Vegas, all over the MGM and Mandalay Bay, from March 19th till 22nd 2018. Happening in the busiest week of Spring conference season, I could make it only for one day, invited by the IBM Partner conference, that was happening in parallel. 



    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)

     ):

    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):



    Want to read on? Here you go:

    IBM brings Partner program to 21st century – I had the opportunity to attend the PartnerWorld program events and it was good to learn that the partner program is making jolts into the 21st century, with simplifications for partners to do business with IBM, cutting down the incentive system from a triple digit to a single digit number, giving partners sandboxes to evaluate, create and sell joint offerings. To a certain point surprised this is only happening now - but better now than later or never. Talking to partners the top concerns remain channel conflict with IBM's direct sales force, while the top wish was for IBM to build up dedicated partner pre-sales capacities (in North America). Common concerns, fears and wishes from partners towards their product / platform vendor. 



    IBM Think 2018 Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Teltsch in the Partner Keynote

    ICP picks up speed– IBM has re-positioned it’s hybrid cloud offerings, formerly BlueMix local with IBM Private Cloud (IPC), basically providing the same value proposition as before – a platform for enterprises to build their next generation applications on. Apart from the development tools, IPC has a twist on operation management and monitoring, an important aspect of a hybrid cloud. Being able to securely scale code and monitor the next generation application is important for enterprises. And it being 2018 – Kubernetes is a key aspect to make this happen, and IPC leverages Kubernetes to achieve load portability across clouds. The product team gave me a private preview demo on what is coming later in the year, and it looks promising in terms of capability and usability, especially for IBM shops, and potentially beyond. 




    IBM Think 2018 Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Teltsch in convo with Wylie



    IBM ML comes to Swift - IBM has been closely working with Apple on Swift, pretty much since the launch of Apple's new programming language. The joint solutions are built on the platform, and given the IBM push on cognitive / Watson / ML / AI, it's key that developers on the Swift platform that are building applications in and for the IBM ecosystem can leverage IBM AI / ML services for the iOS applications. Something joint customers expected and IBM now has (finally) delivered. I had some good conversations with early adopters. 





    MyPOV

    After a one year hiatus of no conferences and events, IBM is back having a user conference. It has consolidated all the many separate conferences that IBM used to have in one single one, which is of course a major challenges for all involved... but a good change in my view. Customers could not afford to attend 4-5 conferences a year, if they were fully bought into the IBM offerings... moreover, customers had to connect the dots between the various offerings, which at times, where not synced... as each conference would plan it's product and announcement cycles around their individual conferences... Think makes a difference here, aligning messaging, and likely over time product release cycles... that makes it easier for customers and prospects get an overview at a coordinated point in time of the many IBM products, offerings and services. It was good to see the focus of the new partner management regime on making it easier and simpler for partners to do business with (or for?) IBM. Always a good true north for a partner organization.

    On the concern side IBM needs to learn how to put out a mega conference, to maximize value for attendees and return of event dollars. It has massive experience of a single property events in Las Vegas, you name it and IBM has been at the respective casino. Multiple property events in Las Vegas are hard for all vendors who have outgrown a single property, but IBM can do better connecting them. And on the product innovation side, it felt at times that announcements could have been made earlier, but were held for Think. Understandable, but a fine line to walk for any vendor. It will be good to see what IBM can create and deliver in the next 12 months, giving a better insight of the innovation power that IBM can harness.

    But for now, good to see a single event happening, aligning all messaging, product, offering and services cycles, for a first combined event, Think 2018 was a good start. Stay tuned. 


    Also - check out a Twitter Moment of IBM Think 2018 here

    More on IBM:
    • Event Report - IBM World of Watson - IBM's bets its future on Watson - read here
    • Progress Report - IBM Alliances Insights - Deep Plans, now it is execution time - read here - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday, IBM Form Strategic Partnership on the IBM Cloud - The IaaS vendor race for SaaS load is on - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM Boosts Support to OpenStack's RefStack... first serious attempt to make OpenStack interoperability real - read here
    • Event Report - IBM Interconnect - IBM innovates and partners into the hybrid cloud era - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM and VMware announce partnership to accelerate enterprise hybrid cloud adoption >> Looking promising - read here
    • Event Preview - IBM Interconnect 2016 - read here
    • Site Visit - IBM Design Studio Austin - read here
    • MarketMoves - IBM strikes 3x in Fall - Cleversafe, The Weather Company and Gravitant - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM launches Industry's First Consulting Practice Dedicated to Cognitive Business - a good move it's early times - read more
    • News Analysis - IBM plans to acquire Cleversafe to propel Object Storage into the Hybrid Cloud >> a good move. Read here
      Market Move - IBM acquires StrongLoop - nodejs comes to BlueMix - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM and ARM Collaborate to Accelerate Delivery of Internet of Things - The IBM NextGenApps Stack emerges - read here
    • Progress Report - IBM Cloud makes good progress - but needs to attract more load - read here
    • Market Move - IBM gets into private cloud (services) with Blue Box acqusition - read here
    • Event Report - IBM InterConnect - IBM makes bets for the hybrid cloud - read here
    • First Take - IBM InterConnect Day #1 Keynote - BlueMix, SoftLayer and Watson - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM had a very good year in the cloud - 2015 will be key - read here
    • Event Report - IBM Insight 2014 - Is it all coming together for IBM in 2015? Or not? 
    • First Take - Top 3 Takeaways from IBM Insight Day 1 Keynote - read here
    • IBM and SAP partner for cloud - good move - read here
    • Event Report - IBM Enterprise - A lot of value for existing customers, but can IBM attract net new customers? Read here
    • Progress Report - The Mainframe is alive and kicking - but there is more in IBM STG - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM and Intel partner to make the cloud more secure - read here
    • Progress Report - IBM BigData an Analytics have a lot of potential - time to show it - read here
    • Event Report - What a difference a year makes - and off to a good start - 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 here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    On March 29th Microsoft shared that the head of it’s Window team, Terry Myerson, was leaving and as a consequence the Windows team was going to be split up into two large development teams under Rajesh Jha and Scott Guthrie (see Nadella’s memo here, kudos for transparency). 



    Here is what we don’t know: Did Myerson quit, or was he compelled to leave as expectations on the Windows progress did not meet the board’s / shareholder expectations. Or did he leave knowing his team would be split and not interested in other roles, hanging in there etc. Those are missing pieces that may surface – or not – and change the analysis here.

    So why could this be a major mistake for Microsoft and its users? Here are my musings:

    Windows was finally ‘fixed’. You can’t blame Microsoft for not investing into Windows. And with Windows 10 Microsoft had finally fixed practically all the sins of the past, pulverized the skeletons in the closet all coming from the fast paced 90ies, that still had traces in the Windows source code until Windows 10. And Windows 10 has been steadily growing, even though it may have hit a slower pace or temporary backlash (see ComputerWorld here). Yes – Microsoft was no longer on track to get to 1B Windows 10 devices in 2018, but since when does that faze people… all market adoption projections need to be taken with a grain of salt. But with a Windows 7 end of life date in a few years, and when walking into any PC store – it only and always Windows 10 devices, that would have been addressed sooner then later.

    Major Platform – with no leader? According to Statcounter (see here), Windows is in a neck to neck race with Android for overall platform leadership. And that’s not a fair competition, different platforms, monetization, sales channels, purchase price and and… The real competition that is comparable is Apple’s OS X and that’s hovering well under 10%... so despite all these ‘Hello I am a Mac’ advertisements of years past, Apple’s OS X hasn’t moved up much on Windows 10. Would Apple split OS X? Don’t think so. Would anyone split responsibilities of a platform with way over 1B installs up? Everybody wants one, they look for leaders and teams to get them there… And a platform with no leader, typically has ceased to be a platform only a few quarters in. Let’s watch the next major Microsoft conference, which is Build in May. I expect some chaperoning by Nadella, and then Jha and Guthrie to merge the messages with their existing and new assets. And then watch for the cracks to appear… first small, then bigger, then visible, then obvious…

    Platform Morphing beats Platform Abandonment. You don’t split a platform, even when it is old. You renovate it (see e.g. IBM with Z/OS), you re-platform it (see Microsoft with Windows 10), you innovate (see Apple OS X) or you morph it to where it needs to be and where to evolve towards. Nadella is right that in the very long run, the PC is dead. And certainly, the cloud and the edge are showing more growth. But the industry has not come up with an alternative to the PC - yet. You can call the Chromebooks something else than a PC, but the form factor, connectivity is practically the same device. This is where Windows may have to morph, to maybe a browser based OS, and Microsoft has very much the assets (and the ambition) in play with Edge. And a micro Edge browser could very well work on the IoT edge. Wait – we have even have a perfect branding head line – Microsoft Edge for the IoT Edge – with all the good Windows DNA should that IoT edge platform need to get a little more beefier. Wait there is also Windows Server… so morph, position… even “embrace and extend” – remember that? Why no more in 2018?

    Warning – Major Brand Implosion. Searched the interwebs for a bit on Windows brand value… with no success. But it must be out there… (please let me know if you find it). What is the #1 brand associated with Microsoft – Windows, then Office. Ask anyone. Why give that up? Yes it maybe old, but so are the affluent aging populations in the 1st world – and they know Windows for their whole computing life time. It may not be the snazziest brand and may need some maintenance… but in the B+ brand area this is just destruction of brand value … again – you morph a brand, you don’t… split it, make it disappear (I know Microsoft will of course argue this, but let’s watch what happens to the Windows brand in the next 48 months). 

    What's the platform message? Microsoft tried with the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). A very attractive value proposition for developers. Yes, the mobile part fell flat, but Microsoft has successfully provided tools to run on iOS and Android, and a great testing capability with Xamarin. Developers till have to build for and on Windows devices... so what is the message to the developer community with the Windows split? At the moment I can't go to good places for that... will be interesting for Microsoft to address at Build in May in Seattle. 

    What does it mean for the future of computing? Microsoft has done remarkable footwork with the Hololense, which runs Windows 10. I called it the first 'headable' PC. Will Windows 10 slim down as a more device centric OS? What about the synergies of running the same apps in a familiar OS? More questions that don't bide well if see a fragmentation of Windows going forward.

    MyPOV

    Certainly a bold move by Nadella, probably his boldest. I am sure he has major shareholder (aka Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer) support. Both of those two have dedicated decades of their lives to make Windows what it is today. They may know something, that we don’t know, and I am happy to correct this blog… when I turn out to be wrong. I can't' imagine Balmer giving Nadella a hard time that he is not moving fast enough to split up Windows... but hey, maybe. But for now, pretty comfortable with the POV… what is yours? Please share!


    More Musings Posts

    • Musings - Time to bring back the software user conference - read here
    • Musings - Does Oracle and Accenture make sense - or never ever! - read here
    • Musings -  Happy 10th Brthday iPhone - afraid the next 10 years will be harder - read here
    • Musings - The Privacy Shield is real - what are the CxO repercussions? Read here
    • Musings - The Bots are coming to your conversation - what are the implications? - read here
    • Musings - We are entering the age of the Über Super Computer - read here
    • Musings - Retail is the breeding ground for NextGen Apps - read here
    • Musings - Time to re-invent email – for real! Read here
    • Musings - The Dilemma with Cloud Infrastructure updates - read here
    • Musings - Are we witnessing the Rise of the Enterprise Cloud? Read here
    • Musings - What are true Analytics - a Manifesto. Read here
    • Musings - Microsoft does not need one CEO - but six - read here

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend Globoforce's WorkHuman, the 4th edition of the user conference, held in Austin from April 2nd till 5th 2018 at the Austin Convention Center. The conference saw record attendance with 1000+ more attendees, I estimate a total of 2.5k making it to Austin. Always good to see a growing conference and vendor ecosystem, beautifully laid out showfloor (mixed usage). 



    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)



    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):



    Want to read on? Here you go:

    Outstanding Speaker Lineup - Workhuman stands out on the conference circuit with an exceptional speaker lineup. The pre-conference could easily have been the full external speaker line up for any other, well funded vendor conference. And in the main conference, give a conference that has Salma Hayek, Amal Clooney and Ashley Judd ('relegated' to a panelist in a MeToo panel) in the run of 24 hours. It is by design, Globoforce wants the WorkHuman conference not to be about product, but though leadership, inspiration and purpose. 

    Globoforce WorkHuman 2018 Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    The Globoforce WorkHuman Cloud


    Globoforce launches WorkHuman Cloud - Inside all the great speaker lineup, it was a challenge to get the attention to what really mattered to any user community - the launch of a new Globoforce product, not surprisingly called the WorkHuman Cloud. It's a suite of five reward / recognition - if you want Performance management capabilities, built on a single platform. All the usual suite benefits apply - single sign-on, UI consistency (some work left), common foundation etc. An almost overdue move by Globoforce, who has been a multi module / product vendor since quite some time. Adoption is not so much of a concern, as true SaaS vendor style, the existing customers are 'on' the platform already with their existing products. 

    Globoforce WorkHuman 2018 Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Globoforce WorkHuman Emloyee Dashboard


    Impressive Customer Stories - Workhuman stands out from the regular conferences in the sense that it gives more stage to customers than the average conference. Nothing is more powerful than having customers share how they implemented a product, and how it helped them create benefits and favorable outcomes. A lot, impressive, educational and sometimes even inspirational success stories were shared at WorkHuman, no surprises, as we know that a well implemented rewards and recognition system, can have substantial positive impact on the performance of an enterprise.  

    Globoforce WorkHuman 2018 Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Globoforce WorkHuman My Life Events





    MyPOV


    WorkHuman stands out as a remarkably different conference. Customers and prospects of Globoforce clearly enjoy the format, and vote by increasing attendance. The success shows a lack of vendor independent, grand scheme (work human!) focus events that serve the HR community. Clearly something that user group conferences should to - but clearly are not doing. Good to see the product progress by Globoforce, who has changed and improved the user experience, and most importantly created a suite of products, the next milestone of maturation of any software vendor. 

    On the concern side, Globoforce could be a little concerned on how to top this conference in 2019. I would be. And it was remarkable, and deeply surprising, that it was hard for the audience to pay attention to the product updates during the keynote, which were ... substantial. Too much motivation and inspiration makes the product message dull, and at the end of the day, users attend user conferences to learn ... about the product. Inspirational speakers are great, but not the argument to implement, upgrade or purchase a product, that is needed to convince the rest of the enterprise to invest further into any software product.

    But for now, Globoforce has setup one of the best HR "Un-conferences" on the circuit, probably the best for a vendor. As with anything, success comes with repercussions... and I can't wait to see how WorkHuman 2019 will shape out. Stay tuned.  




    Also - check out a Twitter Moment of IBM Think 2018 here




    More on Globoforce:
    • Event Report - Globoforce Workhuman - Growth everywhere - customers, partners and product - read here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend NetSuite’s user conference SuiteWorld, held from April 23rd till 26th 2018 in Las Vegas at the Sands Convention Center. Attendance with over 7k attendees, and a better partner / exhibitor mix than in 2017 shows that NetSuite is doing well under the Oracle leadership (my first take on the acquisition is here).




    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)




    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):



    Want to read on? Here you go:


    NetSuite leverages Oracle. Not surprisingly, NetSuite uses Oracle on all levels possible. Starting from go to Market, branding, events, sales force, support, the platform, localization ability etc. That comes as no surprise as the stand-alone NetSuite never made a push from a global perspective… the attempt to go to English speaking countries shows the often seen, but wrong approach for Globalization, as the countries are not there where the largest opportunities are… see more below. Good to see the platform leverage – NetSuite using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) in Germany soon, NetSuite using 12c pluggable database capabilities and even mentioning to look at Oracle Graal – are all good proof points that the Oracle technology and platform is in good shape to power NetSuite (and other SaaS vendors, if they dare).





    NetSuite unveils the Intelligent Suite. The key announcement was Goldberg unveiling the Intelligent Suite in his keynote. NetSuite has been behind in regards of AI / Machine Learning / Assistants (notably different) – so it is good to see the initiative. Who does not want their ERP software get more intelligent? But the announcement was light on details, also because the Oracle AI story is not complete (and of course NetSuite uses Oracle for this). What the benchmark customers and prospects must ask themselves is – where would the Intelligent Suite be today – had e.g. Google acquired NetSuite. That is relevant as a scenario – as the NetSuite competition can partner e.g. with Google for AI and Machine Learning… so NetSuite is off to a good, overdue start, but needs to show tangible benefits soon. The four scenarios selected are a solid start, but need more work and quick expansion… and lastly an ERP conference with n
    o virtual assistant (with a name) and a conversational demonstration is not really up to speed with the technological capabilities that are available, and customers demand from their ERP vendors in 2018,



    Oracle NetSuite SuiteWorld Holger Mueller Constellation Research


    Globalization is the Focus. Good to see NetSuite moving faster on the topic, which has been a sore spot for customers and a missed opportunity for the vendor. NetSuite is committing to Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy and Japan -all large economies, with a need for a ERP Suite that runs in the cloud. The good news for NetSuite and prospects is, that it is not too late, but local competition and alternatives are growing quicker and quicker… so speed and urgency is off the essence, and NetSuite management showed that at SuiteWorld. Enterprises in the target / priority countries should take a thorough look at the offering, even all the Oracle backing, making a North America centric product a global product is not trivial. Also, time for NetSuite to unveil the next set of countries as well, customers need to know more than the first step of the Globalization journey.



     
    Oracle NetSuite SuiteWorld Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Goldberg with the investment 

    Continued SuitePeople Momentum. One year ago – NetSuite unveiled SuitePeople, its inhouse, organically built HCM Suite. At SuiteWorld NetSuite shows some progress, especially on the customer traction side. Oracle owning NetSuite – contrary to some (not mine) expectations – has not hurt NetSuite HCM prospects. Leveraging the pretty successful Taleo SMB suite as a Recruiting tool makes sense for NetSuite, as long as the integration is handled well. In demos (they keynote) it was one common user experience, something that is the new gold standard for integrating products (REST, declarative UX components render in a UX familiar to the user), so that’s a good start. For the observer though, it’s another pivot, away from organically building, to leveraging a partner (now owner), Oracle. At some other time, we must see how good the Taleo Recruiting capabilities stand up towards 2018 best practices… but for a NetSuite customer, which is suite minded, some Recruiting that is good enough, is better than no Recruiting. The irony is – NetSuite was there 2013 already, when it announced a HCM partnership with … Oracle. It did not make much sense back then to use the Oracle large enterprise HCM for the NetSuite SMB customer base – but it plugged a whole at the time. Overall NetSuite needs to understand that it has to stop pivoting in HCM (this is the 6h! Before 2013, then Oracle HCM, then many startups, then TribeHR, then partnership with Ultimate, then SuitePeople, now SuitePeople and a shot of Taleo) – and build capabilities for a key enterprise function as their customer base is moving into the contractor, contingent workforce and gig economy.




    MyPOV

    Rumors of NetSuite’s demise under Oracle ownership (there were plenty) – have been largely debunked and proven as completely falseby now. To the contrary, NetSuite now has the capital and know how to take the product global, something were customers were already (190+ operating countries setup in NetSuite overall) – but the vendor was not helping them much. Good to see the focus. Equally good (and no surprise) the focus on Oracle Technology. Knowing Larry Ellison, I am sure he is enjoying having two application suites in the Oracle fold that can uptake new Oracle technology – the Cloud Suite and NetSuite. Ellison is a master at getting the competitive spirits going – all good news as long as the technology works, and the quality of the SaaS apps remains right.



    On the concern side, NetSuite may not be moving fast enough yet. It needs to move to 30, then 50 supported countries fast, to e.g. counter and lead vis a vis other large ERP vendors SMB products (starts with an S…). And while I always like when vendors go back and fix something (the Commerce offering), it does not make sense for NetSuite to play in the space, while e.g. not having a full HCM Suite, no clear CRM strategy , some holes in SCM and so on. So, NetSuite not only needs to move fast, but also smart, which the vendor is doing on most aspects, but needs to do more. For instance, NetSuite needs to announce the next 10 or better 20 target countries for its Globalization / Localization plans, so customers can plan their roll outs accordingly.  


    But overall a good event for NetSuite (and Oracle), the North American customer base is energized, partners are present and investing, so it’s execution time for NetSuite – to become more global, more complete as a Suite and leverage the Oracle technology. Stay tuned.


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).And here is a Twitter Moment for the Day #1 Keynote and here for the analyst meeting. 

    More about NetSuite:
    • Event Report - NetSuite SuiteWorld 2017 - The Suite gets complete and an Oracle boost - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • Event Report - NetSuite SuiteWorld - NetSuite powers on innovates on all layers - read here
    • Event Preview - NetSuite Suiteworld 2016 - read here
    • News Analysis – NetSuite speaks BeNeLux – expands into Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg - read here
    • News Analyis - NetSuite announces Cloud Alliance with Microsoft - read here
    • First Take - NetSuite SuiteWorld - Zach Nelson Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • First Take - Ultimate Software UltiConnect Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Report - Netsuite powers on with targeted innovation - read here
    • 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 and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.



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    We had the opportunity to attend SAP’s SuccessFactors Analyst Summit 2018, held from April 30th to May 2nd 2018 in San Francisco at the St. Regis. Attendance with over 15 analysts was good, still a good atmosphere to get a pulse on where the vendor is now, especially as it was the first analyst event under the new leadership of Tomb, and the product leadership of Willson and Harvey.




    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here - pardon the bad sound quality at times, will have to record when time allows)




    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):




    Want to read on? Here you go:

    SuccessFactors is on the ‘Enslin March’. Since SAP put the ‘5 sisters’ (Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass, Hybris, SuccessFactors) under the leadership of Rob Enslin, it’s clear that the long-stalled technology conversion of these five business towards the SAP technology stack was about to happen. More specifically it means the long talked, not much executed adoption of SAP HANA as the database, the adoption of SAP Cloud Platform as a PaaS, the use of SAP Analytics as reporting and Analytics platform, the usage of UX elements coming from Fiori (here the SAP Cockpit) and of course SAP Leonardo for machine learning and more. SAP customers will appreciate that change in direction, non-SAP customers using the 5 sisters may be a little more nervous, but as all is deployed in the cloud, they should not notice at all – except for improvement. Behind the ‘Enslin March’ is the expectation to be able to get more business capability being built by the ‘5 sisters’ – an objective of great priority to customers – who always want more capabilities in return for their SaaS subscriptions.



    SAP SuccessFactors Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Enslin presents

    Focus on Mobile, with Leonardo ML and Co-Pilot. Mobile was the big headliner from SuccessConnect 2017 last year, so with some surprise it is also the big roadmap item for 2018. SAP has built a very good iOS app together with Apple, but ML wasn’t ready inside of SAP 12 months ago and SuccessFactors is now adding ML capabilities to the mobile application. More interesting is the adoption of Co-Pilot which is SAP’s chatbot platform, enabling conversation as a platform use cases. Most importantly it has support for Google’s speech recognition baked in, pretty much the clear leader in this capability, which is crucial to make this application use case work. Still it feels like SuccessFactors is working around the main issue that it has – a necessary refresh of the UX and new consistency for the browser-based UX. Many vendors try to buy time for this with mobile apps and chatbots, but a lot of users still have to go back to the browser as a platform and an all nice UX falls into shambles. SuccessFactors needs to tackle that area to keep its (power) users happy and remain competitive.




    SAP SuccessFactors Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Tomb talks, Harvey listens

    Talent Acquisition bolstered by Onboarding and CRM. The other larger automation item from SuccessConnect was a new Onboarding and its good to see SuccessFactors delivering this capability now. Adding Candidate Relationship Management is a good extension of the Recruiting capabilities, and if done right recruiters using SuccessFactors will appreciate it. But both capabilities are built around an older Recruiting core, which needs an overhaul. And the overall Talent Suite inside of SuccessFactors needs an overhaul, maybe renovation if not replacement. At the core of Talent Management is Performance Management and SuccessFactors has done well innovating with the automation of the 1 to 1 meeting… but it needs to keep up innovating and experimenting in this area and reflect the move to Performance Management suites (which offer all ways to do Performance Management to enterprises and allow them to configure use the fitting practices to the right users and organizational units).



     
    SAP SuccessFactors Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Wilson presents the Job Analyzer

    Compliance Investment, Permit and Visa Module. One area where SAP and now SuccessFactors has a clear leg up on all the competition is compliance… SAP offers support for 58 countries directly as part of its payroll portfolio and there 41 additional countries covered by partners (total is 99). Keeping up payroll compliant is continuous work and dealing with regulatory uncertainty that is only rising. To cope, SAP has dedicated professionals in each country, who follow the regulatory changes. Apart from payroll, it allows SAP to pop out capabilities like the Permit and Visa Module. This is very relevant capabilities for global enterprises to manage global talent and close to impossible for enterprises to manage inhouse… they use immigration lawyers and those can make mistakes as they decide on case to case basis. Much better to address in software and kudos for SAP to come out with this capability, likely as a response to its Global Mobility capabilities. The best talent somewhere in the world can’t help in country x if you can’t even get the individual to visit.


    MyPOV

    SuccessFactors is making progress, but the pace seems to be glacial. Realistically using more of SAP technology, a good decision overall, means even more ‘plumbing’ work by R&D resources vs. ‘sun deck’ work (building SaaS capabilities). But it is an investment SAP should make, with the expectation of better productivity and more functionality being shipped in a few years – latest. And SAP needs to build a lead in capabilities, as it’s the only large ERP suite vendor not having HCM integrated in a traditional way (single sign on, same schema, same application etc.) compared to its key competitors. SAP argues correctly that there are new and better ways of integrated in 2018 than there ever were (microservices, REST, APIs in general etc.) – but SuccessFactors itself is the living proof that this is hard to achieve… I am still confident to win the bet of finding more save buttons in look and feel and location than looking at SuccessFactors modules. And UX is only the iceberg. But SuccessFactors is committed and now must execute – fast. Next stop Sapphire in a few weeks.


    And more on SAP:
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live 2018 - Las Vegas - Sustainability and UX - read here
    • Event Takeaways - SAP at MWC 2018 - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Callidus - More Sales Effectiveness in the Back Office of the Front Office - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HCM On-Premise Option for SAP S/4HANA - or is this S/4HCM? - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and SAP join forces to give customers a trusted path to digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Hybris Live 2017 Barcelona - YaaS morphs and more agility ahead - read here
    • News Analyses Roundup - SAP's September Tech Announcements - SAP doubles down on technology - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - New Leadership - Old Challenges - read here
    • Summer 2017 News Analysis - SAP Leonardo event July 2017 - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire 2017 - All in on Leonardo, but wait there is more... read here
    • News Analysis - SAP reshuffles Executive Board - sets up for next 5 years - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - The quest to make Procurement awesome - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Capital Markets and S/4HANA Update - Good Plan - Execution matters in 2017 - read here
    • News Analysis -SAP Introduces Jump-Start Enablement Program for SAP Leonardo IoT Portfolio >> Bundling and Simplification matter for IoT - read here
    • Event Report - Event Report - SAP TechEd Barcelona - Analytics, ML, PaaS and HANA 2  - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP to unveil HANA 2 - New platform vs a fork's tine - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on - read here
    • Event Report - SAP / Trenitalia Digital Summit - SAP is serious about IoT - read here
    • First Take - SAP BW/4HANA - Data Gravity and Cloud win - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SConnect - Push on all fronts - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Insider Vienna - HCP, BI and SuccessFactors are the takeaways - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire 2016 - Top 3 Positives & Concerns: SAP changes - probably for the better - read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • First Take -  SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Preview - SAP Sapphire 2016 - What to expect and look for - read here
    • News Analysis - Apple & SAP Partner to Revolutionize Work on iPhone & iPad - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP SuccessFactors makes good progress - now needs appeal beyond SAP - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HANA Vora now available... - A key milestone for SAP - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - Make Procurement Cool Again - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors innovates in Performance Management with continuous feedback powered by 1 to 1s  - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Good Progress sprinkled with innovative ideas and challenging the status quo - read here
    • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Day #1 Keynote Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors introduces Next Generation of HCM software - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP delivers next release of SAP HANA - SPS 10 - Ready for BigData and IoT - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire - Top 3 Positives and Concerns - read here
    • First Take - Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
    • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP HCM makes progress and consolidates - a lot of moving parts - read here
    • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
    • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
    • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
    • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
    • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • 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:

    • Event Prieview - SAP TechEd 2015 - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP Unveils New Cloud Platform Services and In-Memory Innovation on Hadoop to Accelerate Digital Transformation – A key milestone for SAP read here
    • HANA Cloud Platform - Revisited - Improvements ahead and turning into a real PaaS - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • 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
    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).



    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.





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    We had the opportunity to attend WorkForce Software 's Vision 2018 user conference held at the Grand Sheraton at Wild Horse Pass, South of Phoenix. The conference was well attended by customers, prospects and partners, substantial growth over 2017 in New Orleans.  

    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here - pardon the bad sound quality at times, will have to record when time allows)





    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):




    Want to read on - here are the key takeaways summed up in a Twitter Moment:




    MyPOV

    Good progress by WorkForce Software, that keeps growing and investing into product and infrastructure. New capabilities are key and the new Crew Management capability is an important step forward. Mort importantly even,it's the first time I have seen a modern and adequate UX from WorkForce Software, a UX that not only does the job, but is easy and intuitive to use. More to come says the vendor. 

    On the concern side, a user conference  in 2018 with no story on AI / ML, no virtual assistant and no chat integration is ... a little dated. WorkForce needs to understand the implications of these technologies and move its products forwards and towards them.

    But for now good times at  WorkForce  Software, that remains the viable alternative to the 800 pound gorilla of Workforce Management, Kronos, in its 5 focus industries. Stay tuned. 


    And more on WorkForce Software:
    • Event Report - WorkForce Vision 2017 - After restart and takeoff, time for the boosters - read here
    • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
    • Progress Report - WorkForce Software powers into more Workforce Management - but needs to watch the Fundamentals - read here


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).



    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.


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    We had the opportunity to attend Microsoft’s developer conference Build, held from May 7th till 9th 2018 at the Seattle Convention Center in Seattle. Attendance with over 7k attendees, and a large global representation of the press colleagues makes this one of the best attended events from an influencer perspective. 



    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here):




    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here): 

    Want to read on? Here you go:

    Big push on IoT. IoT got a lot of keynote time across Nadella and Guthrie, Microsoft is pushing big on the IoT edge, where it can deploy a subset of its capabilities, in similar way like Azure Stack. It might be even that both capabilities share similar product features. For enterprises to be able to deploy the same code – e.g. for analytics, on Azure as well as the IoT edge is an interesting product strategy and roadmap. Microsoft also supports the CNCF Event Grid project, it’s the only IaaS vendor at the moment to be able to consume and produce events. That matters as it can make Azure the preferred cloud for these events. Certainly the other IaaS players will not rest, and may well come up with the ability to product / publish events. We will have to see if this big push pays off on the next quarters. 


    Microsoft Build 2018 - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Nadella opens Build 2018
    AI getting ready. Microsoft has a long history investing into AI, this Build conference was the culmination of that effort. In general, the vendor has adopted neural networks now, offering a collection of 25+ machine learning services, that can be easily consumed. The race is on to make every developer a data scientist, and Microsoft has tied the competition now – both on an algorithm and ease of adoption level. On the partnership side, Microsoft confirmed the progress on project Brainwave, as well as ONNX. Both are initiatives aimed at interoperability of ML algorithms and the desire to catch up to Google. The most prominent members are AWS, Facebook and Microsoft. Good to see the progress, but adoption vs. the popular Google Tensorflow will be the real test. Interestingly, the Windows ML capability that powers Windows intelligence processes, is as well ONNX based. That’s a key step, to potentially open Windows ML / AI capabilities to ONNX build models. Microsoft also announced the availability of its FPGA infrastructure. Announced a few years ago, Microsoft reported in September 2016 (see here), at Ignite, that most of its Azure servers now have a FPGA. Not sure what took 1.5 years, but good for Microsoft to be here today. 

    Microsoft Build 2018 - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Nadella and the two Microsoft platforms: Azure and Microsoft 365

    Windows with Innovation. The 2018 edition of Build marked the first time that Microsoft did not have a Windows keynote at Build. I have previously voiced my concern on the way how Microsoft split up Windows (see here), the job at Build for the most Windows messaging was with Microsoft veteran Joe Belfiore in the Tuesday keynote. And Microsoft has done a lot in Windows, especially in the April Update. The underlying magic sauce remains the Microsoft Graph, the ephemeral graph of users, their devices, and their digital assets. It was good to see the Graph in action as part of the developer demo. The new Timeline feature is an interesting innovation and making Windows a human operating system. Humans don’t think in file and folder structures, but in time, so being able to get back to a document a user created last week – by the time and not by the folder is a key step to make the working with Windows more human. The same principles apply to the new Sets capabilities, which bring together browser assets as well as Win32 assets – all neatly in tabs next to each other. It’s a key step to make Windows more of a workspace – than a collection of apps and files. Both Sets and Timeline are a key innovation with integrative DNA, bringing capabilities together that previously had to be take care of manually, through navigation by the Windows user – a change for the better. Lastly all these capabilities need intelligence, and Microsoft added Windows ML, the ability to run ONNX models. That’s a nice compatibility move for the overall Microsoft AI / ML strategy – and gives ML developers an instant, huge install base. Smart move.

     
    Microsoft Build 2018 - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Belfiore opens the Day #2 Keynote


    Azure with Innovation. Azure captured the post Nadella keynote spot, that Scott Guthrie executed in his usual reliable fashion. Kudos to Guthrie with the best keynote punchline at Build (“Let me add value” – when holding a microphone). Apart from more data centers, location and the above-mentioned Event Grid (that runs on the Azure Service Fabric) the key attraction for enterprises in Azure remain Cosmos DB. Debuted last year, on the assets of the former DocumentDB, Cosmos DB is what powers the Microsoft Graph (my stipulation, never confirmed by Microsoft to my knowledge) and as such is a super powerful, distributed database, that runs in pretty much all Azure data centers. The synergies of Microsoft opening datacenters for Office, that requires Graph, that requires CosmosDB are at full work. If a CxO decides to build on CosmosDB it’s highly likely it will be, in the latest version, in all Azure data centers. Adding the 5 9s to read and write reliability is an amazing SLA for next gen applications. 


     
    Microsoft Build 2018 - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Guthrie adds value (joke) w Hanselmann


    Visual Studio gets more team support. Always good to see Microsoft’s continued innovation in Visual Studio, it’s Microsoft’s premier IDE… and a key reason why developers attend Azure. More team and group support are coming, as well as more comprehensive DevOps support. All good progress coupled with former investments in Xamarin and more. The main concern remains the lack of a PaaS offering from Microsoft, I asked Guthrie if that is coming, and it doesn’t seem to be in the plans for the next 12 months. And with that Microsoft misses the opportunity to be the partner of the CIO / CTO who needs to build and deliver a next gen application – from the requirements collection all the way to device management. Microsoft has many of the required pieces, but the need to get stitched together on a project level – something which is additional, and if done incorrectly, risky work. CxOs want that from a vendor, not to be a task for their development teams.


    Microsoft Build 2018 - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Visual Studio Dashboard - can a developer portal look so good?


    MyPOV

    Another good Build conference for Microsoft, with almost too many announcements and progress across the board. The biggest impact is likely the AI push, that (finally) has moved to the new gold standard, neural networks (not just in pockets, but across the board). Good to see the FPGA feature getting delivered, but when compared to the hardware innovation of Google, it is slow progress, maybe even too slow delivery here. Between the announcement and delivery of the FPGA capability of Microsoft, Google has been comfortable to announce TPU 3.0 in the same week, an 8x improvement over the TPU 2.0 pods. Microsoft needs to move faster here, as next to data gravity, we are seeing a new gravity emerge, the one of the custom ML hardware, that is faster and cheaper than the competition to create and operate neural networks, powered by deep learning networks (DLN). Microsoft is not alone in the dilemma, its Seattle neighbor AWS has the same challenge here (a likely driver for Project Brainwave in in my POV. The cost of crating and running AI / ML is a key consideration of future next gen App deployments. Finishing the concern section, Microsoft, as the top three cloud vendor with the deepest enterprise roots and access, needs a better PaaS strategy to attract enterprises and their next generation application load. A partnership with CloudFoundry is not enough. An end to end PaaS suite that takes advantage of all the fast growing capabilities of Azure, AI, ML and more is what enterprises want and expect from Microsoft.

    It’s too early to say what will happen with the new Windows setup, I learnt positive aspects of the move, but my concerns remain intact at this early point after the announcement, future will tell. What is certainly true is that the elimination of Windows from a nominal platform perspective makes the overall Microsoft platform message simpler. It's now Azure and Microsoft 365 (Windows part of the latter). Compared to e.g. 5 years ago - where it was Windows, Azure and Office.

    On the bright side, the Azure service fabric, the push on the IoT side, the edge capabilities, Azure Stack, Cosmos DB are all valid differentiators for Microsoft and CxOs are paying attention to them. And the direction where Windows is heading, also based on a private conversation with Belfiore, towards a more human Windows, that brings together work artefacts in a better way, are all positive takeaways and differentiator. Now let’s see what happens in the next months of 2018… stay tuned.


    More on Microsoft:

    • Musings - Why splitting Windows is Nadella's first major mistake - read here
    • Progress Report - Microsoft wants to enable the digital feedback loop with its Biz Apps and more - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and SAP join forces to give customers a trusted path to digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Top Event Questions [Anwered] - Microsoft Ignite and Envision 2017 - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Ignite / Envision 2017 - Broad push - few highlights - read here
    • Event Report - July 2017 Microsoft London AI Event - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft to deliver Microsoft Cloud from datacenters in Africa - Azure learns Afrikaans to Zulu (and 9 more) - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build 2017 - Good Housekeeping, laying foundation, deliver on vision - read here
    • Down Report – Power failure takes Azure services down - 3 Cloud Load Toads - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Connect - No April's Fools - Linux, Google and more  - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft discovers teams - launches Microsoft Teams - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR  - The SaaS land grab is on  - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft Ignite - AI, Adobe and FPGA [From the Fences] - read here
    • News Analysis - GE and Microsoft partner to bring Predix to Azure - Multi-Cloud becomes tangible for IoT - read here
    • Market Move - Microsoft acquired Linked - Tons of synergies, start with Cortana, maybe too many - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft opens Windows Holographic to partners for a new era of mixed reality - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Musings - Will Microsoft's Hololens transform the Future of Work? Read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build 2016 - A platform vision and plenty of tools for next generation applications - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft Build 2016 - Day 1 Keynote Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Microsoft Build 2016 - Top 3 Things to watch for developers, managers and execs...  read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft - New Hybrid Offerings Deliver Bottomless Capacity for Today's Data Explosion - read here
    • News Analysis - Welcoming the Xamarin team to Microsoft - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announcements at Convergence Barcelona - Office365. Dynamics CRM and Power Apps 
    • News Analysis - Microsoft expands Azure Data Lake to unleash big data productivity - Good move - time to catch up - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and Salesforce Strengthen Strategic Partnership at Dreamforce 2015 - Good for joint customers - read here
    • News Analyis - NetSuite announced Cloud Alliance with Microsoft - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Microsoft really wants to make developers' lives easier - read here
    • First Hand with Microsoft Hololens - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft TechEd - Top 3 Enterprise takeaways - read here
    • 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.
    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here). A Twitter Moment for the Day #2 keynote is here.

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.



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    This morning Informatica hit the wires with a press release about its major release, Spring 2018, fittingly timed with Informatica World, being held in Las Vegas from May 21st till 23rd in Las Vegas at the Sands Convention Center. 


    The press release can be found here - so let's dissect it in my customary style:
    Redwood City, Calif., May 22, 2018 – Informatica®, the enterprise cloud data management leader, today announced the general availability of the Informatica 2018 Spring release during the 18th annual Informatica World® conference. This release of Informatica’s hybrid data management solutions delivers innovative advances across all its core components, leveraging AI powered by the CLAIRE™ engine, to enable employees at every level to unleash the power of data.
    MyPOV – Good summary on what is important for customers at the moment, hybrid data and integration capabilities. As all vendors Informatica talks AI with CLAIRE, but will have to show the value of its offering, starting at the conference to convince CxOs.


    The Spring 2018 release enables increased productivity by helping organizations manage the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities provided by multi-cloud and hybrid environments, new use cases, user types, data challenges, and compliance requirements.

    MyPOV – Summary paragraph, but gets to the other key aspect – (public) cloud and hybrid environment support. New user types are also important, and in the week that GDPR regulation goes live, compliance gets a lot of attention.


    The Informatica 2018 Spring release includes:
    Big Data for Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)
    • The industry’s first big data management cloud solution for iPaaS increases productivity and agility, accelerates self-service analytics, and empowers data engineers, data analysts, and data scientists to automate and fast-track data management work.
    MyPOV – BigData is the first of the three drivers to infinite computing (the others are cheap cloud compute and deep neural networks (DLN). And BigData needs data movement and many working projects fail due to the fickle nature of the underlying open source platform as well as the shortage in experienced skills to build, extend and operate BigData solutions. Good to see a packaged offering.


    Cloud Application Integration and Intelligent APIs
    • New capabilities for Informatica’s iPaaS – Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services℠ (IICS) – simplify multi-cloud and hybrid integration with API management and near real-time application integration.


    MyPOV – The traditional DNA off Informatica that is moving to the public cloud, is moving from batch to real time. Real time, via APIs is crucial for many next generation applications that enterprises are building next generation applications for. And cheap compute in the cloud is taking out the human in tedious and repetitive integration work,


    Enterprise Data Catalog with Intelligent Metadata APIs and Enhanced AI Algorithms
    • New capabilities for Informatica Enterprise Data Catalog simplify democratization of data and provide faster, more relevant data discovery for self-service analytics.

    MyPOV – Another offering that is from sometime ago, but still relevant for enterprises. Though in my view it needs a rebranding, the days of the venerable data catalogue are gone in the self-discovering, self-exploring and self-integrating era of microservices. That era needs platforms and Informatica is working hard to become a partner for these.



    Intelligent, Automated Enterprise Data Governance Powered by AI
    • The integration of Axon™ Data Governance with Informatica Data Quality, Enterprise Data Catalog and Secure@Source® powers a new, comprehensive enterprise data governance solution that fuels strategic business initiatives, drives privacy and protection, and supports regulatory compliance efforts.


    MyPOV – Data Governance remains important, especially given the recent data breach news… but governance has to happen on a day to day, and in the era of the cloud, minute by minute basis. Not sure how well Axon can perform here, but it needs to very automated, ideally almost human free in the operational aspects, so it really empowers an enterprise and does not suffocate if with compliance and admin needs.



    AI-driven Data Privacy and Protection
    • Informatica’s comprehensive data privacy and protection solution brings enhanced support for privacy and compliance initiatives across the enterprise.


    MyPOV – A very thing paragraph, makes the analyst wonder why…. Will have to learn more at the conference.

    [..]

    Tweet this: News: @Informatica announces 2018 Spring release general availability @infaworld http://infa.media/pr180522b #INFA18

    MyPOV – A new best practice in the era of social media and news amplification – good to see Informatica practicing it.
    The Future of Integration
    Source: Holger Mueller, Constellation Research 

    Overall MyPOV


    Informatica is pushing its product suite further in all directions. It will be interesting to follow the keynote and see the progress first hand on the show floor. And Informatica has no alternative than to push onwards, as it sits in the center of all key platforms challenges enterprises have when the move their application portfolio to the cloud and build a mesh of traditional and next generation applications, that application functionality and data mesh needs a modern integration platform and Informatica is en route to create this. We are between the 2nd and 3rd phase of the evolution of integration in the above chart (between the business User Empowerment and Self Identifying stages.

    On the concern side, there are many areas that Informatica need to tackle, and resources, talent and budgets are limited. Informatica World will be a good change to check the pulse how substantial these offerings are from a functional richness, customer adoption and partner support.

    But for now, stay tuned on more of the fundamental switch in the integration best practices and portfolio.



    More on Informatica:

    • News Analysis - Informatica Delivers the Industry's Next-generation iPaaS >> A good start for cloud based iPaaS - read here
    • News Analysis - Informatica Reinvents iPaaS with Next-generation Cloud Services Reimagined to Address Data Management Challenges - read here
    • Event Report - Informatica World 2016 - The Cloud is the new platform - read here
    • News Analysis - Informatica announces new cloud capabilities - Keep up the Salesforce ecosystem play - read here
    • Event Report - Informatica World 2015 - Product Progress and New Approaches - read here
    • News Analysis - Informatica's Sohaib Abbasi showcases Innovations for the Age of Engagement - read here
    • Future of Work - One spreadsheet at a time, Informatica Springbok - read here
    • Informatica pushes the cloud integration stakes - read here.

    Want to learn more? Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.


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    It’s not often ERP vendors change the game on customization and extension, this press release from Unit4 deserves attention as it does exactly that.
    Let’s dissect the press release in our customary style – it can be found here:
    Unit4, a world leader in enterprise software for service organizations, announces today the release of new cloud services designed for customers and partners to easily extend its enterprise solutions with custom industry specific apps.
    MyPOV – Ok – good summary of the press release.
     

    The People Platform Extension Kit is designed to meet the specific challenges of service-based business models. As organizations modernize their business models to engage people in new ways, Unit4 is providing customers and partners with the freedom to develop differentiating front-end applications, that benefit from the critical data held in their back-office systems.
    MyPOV – The innovation here is not the extension kit, ERP vendors have done this since decades in various forms, but the focus / choice of capabilities for service heavy industries.
     

    The People Platform is the foundation for creating intelligent enterprise applications, providing services enabling Unit4 applications to become self-driving by offering access to machine learning capabilities, based on data collection and mining. The Extension Kit gives partners and customers access to the full breadth of Unit4 technology. They can construct custom tailored extensions or complete applications, benefiting from the powerful capabilities of the People Platform and intelligence in Unit4 Business World, becoming first-class citizens of the Unit4 application eco-system. Due to the loosely coupled, micro-service based architecture, partners and customers can develop using their preferred tooling and offer their solutions through any industry-standard marketplace.
     MyPOV – Investment in platforms always pays off, once they work and SaaS offerings run on them – this is another proof point, with the extension kit being based and running on the Unit4 People Platform. Making the extension seamless to the users is a key feature, as user experience should not be aware of what is vendor vs extension capability. For the business user the result of an extension has to be seamless UX integration. 

    “We’re in an age of business process uncertainty where for the first time technology can do more than what traditional business best practice demands,” said Holger Mueller, VP and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research. “We’re seeing enterprise acceleration at unprecedented rates with organizations moving faster than ever before. They can be a disruptor or be disrupted and it’s their people that can make the difference. By empowering them to purpose build services and small apps in the areas that matter, connected to their enterprise applications, they can break away from the monolithic nature of ERP. Through low-code technology like this, people in business become smarter and empowered to work more effectively, producing better value in their work.”
    MyPOV – Solid quote... ok. Might be a little biased here. The key aspect is the low code and small apps ability. It expands the number of people available to build extension, a key aspect as often SaaS / ERP software does not work well for areas of the business that will never receive Its attention or justify the cost of a consultant or even developer to make things run smoothly. The other key aspect and innovation is that this makes ERP less monolithic, meaning there is only one way to do things. Being able to create lots of small applications with the extension kit – they may have similar / duplicate capability – but work for different users, is a major break through in ERP architecture.

    “The everything as a service economy is driving business model changes around the world,” said Stephan Sieber, CEO of Unit4. “As customer demand for simple online subscription services and rapid value grows, organizations are modernizing business models to create greater efficiencies and to engage customers, employees, and business partners in new ways. Core enterprise systems are vital, but do not deliver competitive differentiation on their own. Our customers have unique strategic processes, and by opening our solution platform for simple application development irrespective of programming language or industry marketplace, they can build very specific apps that deliver rapid value and seamless user experience. Essentially this is the next generation of customization technology enabling organizations to have exactly what they want and need to be successful.”
    MyPOV – Good quote from Sieber, focusing on what matters – smooth running software, now enabled by technically savvy – but non-developer – resources in the enterprise. 

    Pricing and Availability
    The People Platform Extension Kit and pricing details will be available in Fall ’18. Customers and partners can sign up to the Early Adopter Program from June.
     MyPOV – Always good to see immediate availability – at least for early adopters already in June. 

    Overall MyPOV

    Enterprise software will never be a 100% fit for enterprise automation needs. The move to the cloud has made the category even more resistant / unable to move to the perfect fit. It’s good to see that in the more modern version of SaaS / cloud-based ERP software, vendors are starting to overcome these limitations. That requires to build on a modern platform and to expose these services, not only to technically savvy developers, but also to reasonably technology aware business users. The ability for business users to create smaller, department level or division wide applications, which can overlap, be redundant is a key step to move of the monolithic heritage of ERP. Good progress by Unit4.

    On the concern side, there can be the situation of the what Disney showed well starring Micky Mouse in the Sorcerer’s apprentice movie. In this case too many custom apps being created, performance, reliability, compliance and more issues can arise from the approach. But it’s better to try a learn than not do the move, so it will be interesting to see what Unit4 customers will be building and what overall experience will be.

    But for now, congrats to Unit4 on a major milestone of making ERP fit better to the needs of service businesses.


    More on Unit4:

    • Progress Report - Unit4 Analyst Summit - New Achitecture and Deep Verticals - read here.
    • News Analysis - Unit4 releases Wanda bot; the first true self-driving ERP user experience - read here
    • News Analysis - Unit4 announces Business World On – A modern ERP offering - read here
    • News Analysis - Unit4 announces integration with Slack - read here
    • News Analysis - Unit4 picks Microsoft Azure for ‘Self-Driving’ ERP vision - Cloud, Machine Learning, Office and PaaS are the attractors - read here
    • Progress Report - Unit4 lays out a big vision - now it needs to execute - read here
    • News Analysis - Unit4 acquires Three Rivers Systems - read here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here


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    Enterprises have always been faced with competition, as competition is key mechanic of success in the free market economy. But the need for adopting and reacting to the competition and creating new creative strategies has never been as high as it is today. Digital Transformation has substantially changed the game here, forcing enterprises to move faster towards a new objective, while having less room for error – than ever before. Constellation Research has shown that in digitally transformed industries, the leaders are taking more than 70% of revenue and over 77% of profit. This means the risk of being left behind is bigger than ever before Worse, when left behind it is almost impossible to catch up… as a consequence, what matters for an enterprise leader, is how much their enterprise can accelerate as a unit. As it is impossible and unrealistic for an enterprise to catch all the successful trends that become relevant in an early phase, it is even more important that CxOs look at the speed to at which their enterprise can adopt to challenges as thrown at them from existing and new markets. 



    Financial Indices tell the story

    To understand the increasing rate of change in the markets, look at the financial indices across the world, and the they tell the story of markets moving faster. Enterprises has been falling out of financial indices at a faster rate than ever before, many of the indices seeing a complete turnaround in members since their start, usually 30+ years ago. The main reason is that many of these enterprises have been acquired, beyond that they others have just not been able to keep up with the rate of change created by the speed of market changes. In essence, these enterprises were not able to accelerate fast enough and adopt to the rate of change they were operating in.

    For example:

    - The DAX has seen 100%-member turnover in the last 30 years.

    - The DOW has seen over 52% of its members disappear since 2003.

    - The FTSE has lost 2.6x members that its number of listed enterprises (100) in 34 years.

    - The S&P 500 has seen the average age of new members joining reach 10 years.

    Enterprise Acceleration Formula

    So how do we define enterprise acceleration? We look at the two key criteria, technology, manifested in software, and people. For the sake of the blog post we look at people only here. People speed is determined by the talent that people have, their ability to learn new skills, over the speed of forgetting skills and the rate of skills being obsolete.

    For HR leaders, the variables are:
    • Hire extraordinary talent, of course with applicability for the enterprise current and future talent needs.
       
    • Understand people have to continuously learn and need modern tools to enable this.
       
    • Make sure skills do not get lost, especially the relevant, just trained ones.
       
    • Minimize the percentage of obsolete skills in the people base of the enterprise. 

    This requites a very different approach to people skills, their augmentation and conservation.


    The three key focus areas for Enterprise Acceleration

    Strategy

    Enterprises need to shift their strategy from satisfying executive, reporting and compliant needs, to a focus on helping the people leader, who has the task to achieve business result for the enterprise. These people leaders manage teams of one or two handful of employees and are chronically under supported from executives, tool and processes. Most requirements from the leadership of an enterprise coming down the chain of command neglect the situation, needs and challenges of these people leaders.

    CxOs need to analyze, what people leaders need for their and their team’s work and what they need to become more successful. This needs a change of focus from administrators and reporting needs to productivity and efficiency needs as needed by the people leaders in the current situation of the enterprise, as well as the targeted setup of the enterprise from a strategy perspective. This makes the business user focus a key success factor in the overalls strategy for implementing an enterprise acceleration strategy


    SaaS

    CxOs need to have conversations with their software providers on 5 key topics of enterprise automation side:

    1. Talent Depth Chart. The talent depth chart is crucial for enterprises to understand where its talent is. As seen in the enterprise acceleration formula, the innate talent of people is one of the key success factors for people speed. This means finding internal talent for the right job is key to identify and then to transport the talent to that next position, where the enterprise needs the people with the right skills.

    2. TransBoarding. This is the ability of company to “transport and onboard” talent around in a faster and better way than ever before. Meaning that the transferees will be trained for the next position even before they take on the new position. It also means a seamless transfer between jobs can happen with significant lower cost and friction for the employee and the people leader.

    3. 21st century learning. CxOs need to have a conversation about modernizing their learning systems to the needs of the 21st century workforce. This means that learning content has to be pervasive, can be self-created, and can be self-curated and consumed at the space of the modern workforce. Too much learning happens at the wrong time in the wrong place, and the speed of forgetting newly learnt information and capabilities is killing any speed an enterprise was planning to pick up from the training / learning in the first place.

    4. Fixed performance management. In order for enterprise to know where the good people are, it needs to know who's performing well. Unfortunately, the state of performance management in enterprises is mostly in a sour state. Fixing whatever needs to be fixed to make performance management work is crucial for the enterprise that wants and needs to accelerate.

    5. Lean recruiting. As talent of people is critical for enterprise, the need to recruit fast is crucial for the enterprise. Taking the friction from the talent acquisition process by directly enabling hiring managers to see what talent available in the market is and facilitating the conversation between manager and future candidate is a key step to accelerate on recruiting side.

    So, enterprise executives need to ask their software providers, how they can help achieve these 5 capabilities. Are any of them coming, are any on the road map? Or is this the first time the vendor hears about them?

    Technology Platform

    These are three topics for a conversation that people leaders need to have with their CIO / CTO colleague:

    1. Machine Learning. No technology will change the work life more than machine learning. An enterprise that wants to accelerate needs to have a strategy on how to leverage machine learning for its needs. HR Leaders need to understand what their enterprise wants and can do in the near future and understand the repercussions and benefits of the technology for the people leaders and their teams in the enterprise. And Machine Learning needs to run automatically on top of the enterprise data, that is ideally stored in Big Data clusters.

    2. Big Data. All planning starts with data. In a faster moving economy, enterprises no longer can afford to go on long data collection, cleanse and acquisition projects. All electronic information that it is at the disposal of the enterprise, needs to be available in Big Data clusters. This is the only way for enterprise to directly make decisions based on where data is and where it needs to move / react towards the competition in the respective markets. Establishing enterprise wide Big Data capabilities is a must have for enterprises, so they don’t lose time directly at the starting blocks when starting in enterprise acceleration needs to happen.

    3. Non-Monolithic. Traditionally enterprise software would only provide one way of doing things. That meant that when the enterprise needed different automation for different divisions, organizations or department's customization was needed. Today, a more modern approach to enterprise architecture is needed, which allows each area of the enterprise to run their own set of automation, a non-monolithic approach to enterprise software.

    MyPOV

    There is only one thing that is certain, and that is that business will never be as slow as it is today. It’s vital for enterprises to find ways to help them move faster and be able to accelerate when it matters. It is also clear that more moments will be ahead where the ability of an enterprise to accelerate are crucial. The ability to reach the speed necessary for any transformation ahead is something CxOs needs to focus on, this blog post looked specifically at the people side of enterprise acceleration, something that is near and dear to HR leaders, but ultimately really all people leaders of an enterprise.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you how the conversations with the people leaders, the CIO / CTO and the vendors are going.

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    Last Friday we had the opportunity to record the 120th episode of DisrupTV, and with we I mean usual host Vala Afshar, and yours truly stepping in for the always on the move Ray R Wang. The show focus was on the Future of Work / HCM research area, so I doubled as moderator and as guest.
    Here are the top 3 takeaways from the guests of episode #120 (it can be found here).
     

    Radical Transparency fosters Engagement with David Ossip

    Ceridian Chairman and CEO David Ossip shared the transformation journey that the vendor has undergone – from a managed payroll provider using mainframe technology to a cloud-based SaaS vendor. Here are the top 3 takeaways:

    Culture needs a Purpose. Ossip shared that culture cannot be an empty shell, needs to be tangible, needs to be lived. He shared two examples on how obviously wrong and suboptimal processes got changed, as part of a regular location visit schedule. The purpose is key to galvanize a cross-generational workforce on what ultimately matters, customer success. 

    DisrupTV Constellation Research Vala Afshar Holger Mueller Ceridian David Ossip
    David Ossip talks transformation on DisruptTV


    Engagement Surveys are key. The tool of choice to understand where an enterprise stands are engagement surveys. Ceridian runs them twice a year and shares the top results openly across the employee base. Each topic in the Top 5 gets worked on with an action plan, often a project and more to drive to closure… sharing results as they are, with no sugar coating is what 21st century employees (who provided the data in the first place) deserve.

    Radical Transparency and Honest Action are nonnegotiable. Ceridian shares the engagement scores openly across managers. It is better for people and the enterprise to understand if a manager is better an individual contributor – sooner than later. But work and improvement need to happen constantly to keep employs engaged and make the trust their leadership.


    Learning goes Micro with Carol Leaman


    Next up was Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify, a Learning vendor that focusses on micro-learning. Carol shared her startup’s days and how she turned down a lucrative offer from Google and why (watch the recording for that).

    Learning needs to be engaging. Learning systems have way too long lived in the past, often with the same handbooks handed out to existing and new employees for multiple decades. Smartphones are the new platform to provided engaging learning experiences, with substantial successes – both from a pure learning as well as a commercial perspective.

     
    DisrupTV Constellation Research Vala Afshar Holger Mueller Axonify Carol Leaman
    Laughs all around with Carol, Vala & Holger


    Micro Learning suites all generations in the workforce. All generations in the workforce are tired to attend even more tired classroom-based trainings. Content needs to be diced and sliced based on relevance and interest. Small learning content portions need to be able to be consumed at a minute’s notice, when time and / or relevance present themselves. Micro Learning is the key approach to slice, dice and serve learning content to the workforce.

    Gamification remains a powerful motivator. While the heydays of gamification are certainly over, gamification still remains a powerful tool to motivate people to do work, including taking training course and consume training content. What makes gamification so powerful is that it works across the generational boundaries – from iGen to the Baby Boomers.
     

    CxOs need to understand Enterprise Acceleration with Holger Mueller

    Last but not least it was yours truly turn to talk about recent research, Enterprise Acceleration. Here are the key takeaways:

    Financial Indices prove Acceleration. The financial indices are a neutral measurement on how fast a public market in a country move. It is highly representative for the state of an economy since almost all large companies are publicly traded. For instance, the age of a company becoming part of the S&P 500 in 2004 was 25 years… in 2013 it was... 10 years. Indices in London, Frankfurt, Paris and Tokyo show a same picture, in distinct colors. So, enterprises need to find ways to accelerate, and that’s what Enterprise Acceleration is all about. 

    DisrupTV Constellation Research Vala Afshar Holger Mueller
    If you wonder why Vala looks sceptical - watch the show!


    Compliance, Payroll and 9 Acceleration Strategies. Before CxOs can tackle the 9 enterprise acceleration strategies (watch the show for all of them), they need to take care of the basics – being compliance and a well working payroll. These are key preparatory steps, as any enterprise transformation project stops when compliance penalties come in or people are not being paid correctly.
    Let’s highlight one of the nine strategies here, Transboarding. Created as a combination of Transferring and Onboarding it asks CxOs to pay more attention to the productivity of employees that are transferring and to use modern learning tools across the whole transfer, starting quarters before the transfer happens, and ending only quarters later.

    People Leader need to be technology savvy. Gone are the days when technology decisions affecting people were able to be delegated to the CIO and other technical roles, and excellent question from Vala. This does not mean that CHROs have to become technologists, surrounding themselves with the right team is more important than ever… and basic technology concepts like BigData and Machine Learning / AI need to be understood well enough to grasp their implication on the enterprise and / or on people.


    Curious who is next on DisrupTV every Friday at 11 AM PST? Check here.

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    Today at Microsoft’s Ignite conference in Orlando, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was joined by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan and SAP CEO Bill McDermott to announce the Open Data Initiative across the three vendors. Important enough to merit a traditional commented press release – you can find the original here. As this was a well concerted launch with three CEOs present – each vendor has put up their microsite for this, I recommend to visit them to catch the slightly different POVs of the vendors…- Adobe is here, Microsoft is here and SAP is here.




    ORLANDO, Fla. — Sept. 24, 2018 — On Monday, the CEOs of Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and SAP (NYSE: SAP) introduced the Open Data Initiative at the Microsoft Ignite conference. Together, the three longstanding partners are reimagining customer experience management (CXM) by empowering companies to derive more value from their data and deliver world-class customer experiences in real-time.
    MyPOV – Good intro – but why limit to customer experience management – why not even call this CRM? Yes, Adobe has most assets here and SAP is lost on naming its C4/HANA product a bit. but make no mistake – this is about single truth of the customer – for B2B and B2C enterprises… the vendors will come around and fix this to CRM… and of course no coincidence this was announced 24 or so hours before Salesforce’s Dreamforce kicks off in San Francisco.


    In today’s world, data is a company’s most valuable asset. However, many businesses struggle to attain a complete view of their customer interactions and operations, because they are unable to connect information trapped in internal silos. At the same time, important customer information also resides in external silos with intermediary services and third-party providers, limiting a company’s ability to create the right connections, garner intelligence and ultimately extract more value from its own data in real time to better serve customers.
    MyPOV – This has been the 20+ year promise of every CRM vendor – always desired – seldom achieved. But vendors traditionally only have taken an exclusive to their offering’s stance – which of course does not reflect enterprise reality, which spans multiple vendors… and left it to the enterprise to implement this use case.


    The Adobe, Microsoft and SAP CEOs on stage at Microsoft Ignite Source: Microsoft Ignite Webcast Holger Mueller
    The Adobe, Microsoft and SAP CEOs on stage at Microsoft Ignite
    Source: Microsoft Ignite Webcast


    Companies around the world use software and services from Adobe, Microsoft and SAP to run product development, operations, finances, marketing, sales, human resources and more. Today, Adobe, Microsoft and SAP are joining forces to empower their mutual customers with the Open Data Initiative, which is a common approach and set of resources for customers based on three guiding principles:
    MyPOV – So why limit it to customer data? Ok to start there…


    • Every organization owns and maintains complete, direct control of all their data.
    • Customers can enable AI-driven business processes to derive insights and intelligence from unified behavioral and operational data.
    • A broad partner ecosystem should be able to easily leverage an open and extensible data model to extend the solution.
    MyPOV – Good principles. Of course, #1 works good for intra-enterprise – but less good for inter-enterprise when delivering complex customer value scenarios…  especially in the era of DaaS the three partners need to spend a little more thought cycles on this. #2 is likely going to become an Azure money machine… as Microsoft is the hosting IaaS – Azure Data Lake likely going to be the repository…  subscriptions will go there… And #3 will work when the three can show traction… The data pool alone will be attraction enough for 3rd party ISVs. The latter is good news for enterprises.


    Based on these principles, the core focus of the Open Data Initiative is to eliminate data silos and enable a single view of the customer, helping companies to better govern their data and support privacy and security initiatives. With the ability to better connect data across an organization, companies can more easily use AI and advanced analytics for real-time insights, “hydrate” business applications with critical data to make them more effective and deliver a new category of AI-powered services for customers.
    MyPOV – Enterprises need a central repository for customer data… used to be called the Customer Data Hub, the single source of truth etc… let’s see if the three can pull this off.


    “Adobe, Microsoft and SAP are partnering to reimagine the customer experience management category,” said Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe. “Together we will give enterprises the ability to harness and action massive volumes of customer data to deliver personalized, real-time customer experiences at scale.”
    MyPOV – Well said -for Adobe’s perspective – which is mostly B2C.


    “Together with Adobe and SAP we are taking a first, critical step to helping companies achieve a level of customer and business understanding that has never before been possible,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Organizations everywhere have a massive opportunity to build AI-powered digital feedback loops for predictive power, automated workflows and, ultimately, improved business outcomes.”
    MyPOV – Well said as well – but more future oriented… very little business insight can be derived from looping customer data together – business data needs to follow – and that’s where the announcement has stopped… but also things get very hard.


    “Microsoft, Adobe and SAP understand the customer experience is no longer a sales management conversation,” said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. “CEOs are breaking down the silos of the status quo, so they can get all people inside their companies focused on serving people outside their companies. With the Open Data Initiative, we will help businesses run with a true single view of the customer.”
    MyPOV – Good job by McDermott – with a partner encompassing quite… nice to see the people perspective… and good to see customer (and not consumer!).


    To deliver on the Open Data Initiative, the three partners are enhancing interoperability and data exchange between their applications and platforms — Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Experience Platform, Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP C/4HANA and S/4HANA — through a common data model. The data model will provide for the use of a common data lake service on Microsoft Azure. This unified data store will allow customers their choice of development tools and applications to build and deploy services.
    MyPOV – This clarifies some of the key platform… Azure and Azure Data Lake. No surprise – toolset remains open – may it be Adobe’s (likely the weakest for developers, strongest for no coders), and Microsoft Dev Tools and SAP Cloud Platform.


    Open Data Initiative Adobe Microsoft SAP Holger Mueller
    A first Marketecture of the Open Data Initiative
    Source: Microsoft Ignite Webcast


    With the Open Data Initiative, companies will be able to:
    • Unlock and harmonize siloed data to create new value
    • Bi-directionally move transactional, operational, customer or IoT data to and from the common data lake based on their preference or needs
    • Create data-powered digital feedback loops for greater business impact, while also helping to enable their security and privacy compliance initiatives
    • Build and adopt intelligent applications that natively understand data, relationships and metadata spanning multiple services from Adobe, SAP, Microsoft and their partners
    MyPOV – Kudos to define the use cases. Channels the thinking and gives a sense of direction to this broad initiative.


    Technology leaders at top retail and consumer products companies, such as The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and Walmart, have expressed support and excitement about the Open Data Initiative.“This initiative from Adobe, Microsoft and SAP is an important and strategic development for the Coca-Cola System,” said Barry Simpson, chief information officer at the Coca-Cola Company. “Our digital growth plans centered around our customers are fueled by these platforms and open standards. A more unified approach to the management and control of our data strengthens our ability to support our growth agenda and our ability to satisfy security, privacy and GDPR-compliance requirements. The industry needs to follow these leaders.”“Every day, 2.5 billion people use a Unilever product in over 190 countries around the world,” said Jane Moran, CIO, Unilever. “The Open Data Initiative from Adobe, Microsoft and SAP is an important undertaking that will help us reimagine customer experience management by bringing together data across our entire organization to build more direct, meaningful relationships with consumers in real time.”“We’re excited about the Open Data Initiative and the value it will unlock for Walmart,” said Clay Johnson, executive vice president and enterprise chief information officer, Walmart Inc. “With greater ability to connect and harness the power of our data, we can enhance the associate experience and create entirely new ways to serve our customers online and in our stores.”
    MyPOV – Always good to back up an announcement with customer quotes, and these are all large and respected enterprises.


    Overall MyPOV

    So why only now? Certainly, the Salesforce success has gone noticed and competitors have noticed they need to partner more and better to make up for this. More importantly solving the heterogeneous customer system landscape is something that can be tackled by multiple vendors only – and is a massive pain point for enterprises.


    What is different now? Three things have changed:
    • The  cloud is a better platform: Customer processes are dynamic, and the cloud offers the flexible platform… and customer processes need automation (AI, Chatbots etc.) and that is better (or only) provided effectively in the cloud.
       
    • SaaS vendors with no IaaS: Adobe and SAP have no longer a horse in the IaaS race – and partner with IaaS providers – this allows in this case Microsoft to become the underlying platform for this new offering… and Adobe and SAP are partners already.
       
    • Multi-vendor interfaces become real: The cloud / PaaS and DaaS (LinkedIn wasn’t mentioned – but I am sure is part of the conversation) makes n:m vendor interfaces possible… replacing the 1:1 partnerships of the past. Those 1:1 partnerships still left customers with the dreaded spaghetti integration scenario….

    So now it comes back to the three vendors to make this announcement tangible beyond the three CEOs presenting it: Technical details, commercial details and roadmap need to be defined – sooner than later. Enterprises need to make customer value chain decisions every day in order to stay competitive – the sooner they know what a vendor – or here a vendor group – can do – the better they can make decisions. So much potential is there that has not been mention… the tools that can built next gen Apps on the data. The scope expansion to beyond customer. The upside of LinkedIn in the mix. Etc. etc.


    But for now, congrats to Adobe, Microsoft and SAP to team up on a difficult topic in an innovative way – now they “only” have to make it work …




    See below a collection of key tweets from the announcing keynote from September 24th 2018. 


    More recent Microsoft blogs:
    • Musings - Why splitting Windows is Nadella's first major mistake - read here
    • Progress Report - Microsoft wants to enable the digital feedback loop with its Biz Apps and more - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and SAP join forces to give customers a trusted path to digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Top Event Questions [Anwered] - Microsoft Ignite and Envision 2017 - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Ignite / Envision 2017 - Broad push - few highlights - read here
    • Event Report - July 2017 Microsoft London AI Event - read here

    And some recent SAP blogs:
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live 2018 - Las Vegas - Sustainability and UX - read here
    • Event Takeaways - SAP at MWC 2018 - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Callidus - More Sales Effectiveness in the Back Office of the Front Office - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HCM On-Premise Option for SAP S/4HANA - or is this S/4HCM? - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and SAP join forces to give customers a trusted path to digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Hybris Live 2017 Barcelona - YaaS morphs and more agility ahead - read here
    • News Analyses Roundup - SAP's September Tech Announcements - SAP doubles down on technology - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - New Leadership - Old Challenges - read here


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    We had the opportunity to attend ADP’s yearly analyst summit, held on September 20th 2018 at its innovation lab in Chelsea / New York City. With over 20 analysts, the event was well attended.




    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)




    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):


    Want to read on? Here you go:

    ADP is in an improving position when it comes to breadth, depth and strength of its products. And the analyst meeting reflected this well, too, with a clear structure of five evolutionary trends for the future of work, and then following up with ADP products and software demos. That’s a great format for an analyst meeting.



    Liffion Screen The AI powered assistant that leads users to insights in ADP Data Cloud - Holger Mueller Constellation Research ADP
    A HR Core / Liffion Screen


    PI and Liffion on track. ADP is at the very end of the development process of its new HR Core solution (Liffion) and Payroll (Pi). This means validation with the first customers in regards of applicabilty to day to day use, validation of best practices and payroll accuracy. The DNA of both products I s exciting and healthy, a team oriented approach to HR Core and a rule based approach to payroll.



    The AI powered assistant that leads users to insights in ADP Data Cloud - Holger Mueller Constellation Research ADP
    The AI powered assistant that leads users to insights in ADP Data Cloud


    MiniApps and Data Cloud AI Assistant. One of the most exciting products in the industry from my point of view are the Mini Apps. Enterprise software has been plagued from the shortcomings of its traditional monolithic DNA, rooted in technical shortcomings, that are by now historic. Good to see ADP tackling the need for differentiation and better fit with the MiniApps, allowing them to be created in a low code production mode. If successful this can change the way how people are being managed and served in enterprises. Equally good to see is the AI Assistant that ADP plans to provide to ADP Data Cloud. Now that there is a lot of data in ADP Data Cloud, users want to find more efficient access and an AI powered assistant can uncover that. Both MiniApps and the AI assistant are in early phases and need real world customer validation.


    Celergo strengthens BPaaS. With Celergo acquired, ADP can now server 140+ countries for its global customers. But spokespeople re-assured the influencers present that it was less about country coverage, but about gaining access to the know-how of Celergo on how to manage customer services and how to partner successfully with the relevant partners to run global payroll operations successfully.




    MyPOV

    ADP product portfolio gets stronger and stronger, now it has to prove itself in practice. Following the roll out waves in 2019 will be key for prospects and customers. The ability to have payroll managers configure, change and operate a payroll are innovative, at least of the scale that ADP needs to support. The team approach of Liffion is equally key, as teams are the org units that make and break enterprise success. And for that, very little has been done in the past to support teams and their leaders.


    On the concern side, ADP cannot rest on its laurels… It showed conversational UI prototypes in the last two year, but not this year. The global cloud connect product was missing in action as well, though I was re-assured it is continued and on track. And ADP will have to show more of its innovation work, that ironically is happening at the labs where the analyst meeting took place.


    This was the best ADP analyst summit I had the opportunity to attend (total of 5). The product focus, first introduced in 2017 remained, and the gestalt of the presentation was consistent and backed up with proofs in software. Customer proof points would be the icing on the cake. Always room for improvement.



    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below  (if it doesn’t show up – check here).




    More on ADP:
    • Event Report - ADP Meeting of the Minds 2018 - Stay the course - read here
    • Event Report - ADP ReThink - Great event and a lot in the making  - read here
    • Market Move - ADP Acquires WorkMarket to Further Extend Human Capital Management to Contingent Workers [...] - The Gig Economy looms on the Future of Work- read here
    • Progress Report - ADP pushes on - 2018 will be BIG - read here
    • Event Report - ADP MOTM - Time get customers on board!? Read here
    • Event Report – ADP ReThink – Great event and great value coming for customers  - read here
    • News Analysis - ADP Acquires The Marcus Buckingham Company to Expand Talent Portfolio - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day 2016 - ADP has turned around Vantage HCM - read here
    • Event Report - Event Report - ADP MOTM - ADP delivers: New UI, Benchmarks, Market Place & More - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday and ADP partner to Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience for Global Payroll - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day - ADP executes, kills (most) ghosts from the past - read here
    • Event Report - ADP Meeting of the Minds - It’s all coming together for ADP in 2015 - product wise - read here
    • First Take - ADP Meeting of the Minds - Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP shows great vision, delivers product innovation - now it needs adoption - read here
    • Site Visit - ADP's new innovation lab in Chelsea - read here
    • 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.

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.




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    We had the opportunity to attend Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference, held from September 25th till 28th in San Francisco. It was the usual ‘zoo’ of marketing spend and attendees all over San Francisco. Salesforce claimed over 170k in person attendees, at least on Tuesday it did not feel like that. But certainly, this is the yearly come together of the Salesforce ecosystem. 



    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)



    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):




    Want to read on? Here you go:

    Salesforce and Apple partner. At first glance, enterprises love it when market leaders’ partner, especially when they are joint customers. With Salesforce committing to build iOS specific apps, taking advantage of iPhone features, moving closer to Swift – is a big favor to Apple. The concern for CIOs is – Salesforce is creating two classes of mobile users. The concern for developer is that Salesforce has sacrificed a key benefit of its Lightning platform – the develop once, deploy everywhere value proposition. That weighs hard on admins, single developers and small development shops. All for the value of a ritzy partnership announcement? Let’s hope that a similar announcement for the #1 OS – Android – is coming soon, supporting both mobile OS in an equal way. Let’s not forget the world runs on Android and that’s where Salesforce has the most growth potential. 



    Apple and Salesforce partnership - Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Apple and Salesforce partnership


    Customer 360 – never gets old. Quite a surprise, as Customer360 is a 20+ year old CRM promise, to enable CRM users to see all that matters to be successful. To some point gutsy by Salesforce, as the long-time customers in attendance at DreamForce rightfully may expect this to be their real modus operandi today. But Salesforce had to acquire MuleSoft for that… and we will see how much of a difference it will make. If Salesforce can make Customer 360 real – that will be a huge value for its install base. To do so, Salesforce needs to address some DNA changes in MuleSoft, which primarily served coders, but Salesforce needs support for the admins, which means low-code if not no-code. 



    Salesforce Customer 360 - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Salesforce Customer 360



    Einstein AI. A cross platform (good – much better than the Apple announcement) conversational assistant is coming in 2019. Cross platform (Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri mentioned – Cortana notably but not surprisingly absent) support is important, the challenges to get the voice corpus for the dynamic customer and contact name space right – are massive. Will be interesting to see how this will work – the benefits to CRM users will be substantial. It also means that neural networks are the tool of choice, the analyst track talk by Robert Socher was all about neural networks (in contrast to last year, where neural networks where just one of many analytical algorithms…). But deployment, runtime, platforms and deep learning questions were all skirted in a Q&A. 



    Einstein Voice - The most prominent member of the Einstein family at Dreamforce Holger Mueller Constellaton Rsearch
    Einstein Voice - The most prominent member of the Einstein family at Dreamforce


    AWS and Salesforce partner. 2 years ago, the key IaaS partner was AWS, now it was Google, now it’s back to show progress with AWS – making connections safe, using e.g. the AWS Call Center product (begs for questions) and more. This is where the real work is happening, as Salesforce is trying (still) to move of its old, Oracle based infrastructure, towards the public cloud for its core SalesCloud, ServiceCloud and all Apex based offerings.



    AWS and Salesforce partnership - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    AWS and Salesforce partnership
    Source: Salesforce Keynote


    MyPOV

    It was the usual mega event for Salesforce, it’s partners and its users. Attendees were optimistic and looking forward on innovation to come in 2019. Good to see the shift towards more neural network-based AI, which at the moment is clearly the AI technology of choice. Good to keep Einstein’s voice efforts cross platform. But details were not shared – where does Salesforce plan to build all these models, where does the data have to be, etc. Good to see what MuleSoft is ultimately about, pulling off Customer 360 – if Salesforce managed to implement this architecture (and get customer to pay for it) – it may justify the princely cost of MuleSoft. To be fair – that is little of concern for Salesforce users, who they want to see value coming form their vendor overall, across the product suite.

    On the concern side, the logistical challenges for a conference are massive and Moscone being under construction does not help. The problem is, that the conference is getting too big and the format needs a refresh. That may also be the whole Trailhead concept from an exhibition theme, I am sure it was not left unnoticed by Salesforce marketeers. The Apple partnership is not balanced – Apple is the big winner, Salesforce a little and CIOs and developers loose, as mentioned above. It’s high time for Benioff and his team to show some customer empathy and use Salesforce on an Android device – for a few weeks. That will make sure Salesforce has eyes and ears on record for where likely the majority of its mobile users are. And no word on Salesforce re-platform efforts towards AWS (hence a lot of partner announcements) and Google (zilch…) – which is the real story on what keeps Salesforce developers busy. This was the opportunity to share an update, some kind of roadmap, but it did not happen…

    But overall Dreamforce is an impressive event, customers are happy, partners a little less, as they keep draining their marketing budgets for the event – and seem to get less of a return year after year. Salesforce is better advised for partners to spend their precious marketing $s at their and other events – than at Dreamforce. The selected showcase customer concept in keynotes is very well executed, Salesforce leads with it across all events this year, beyond the keynotes, e.g. with bill boards all over San Francisco. The celebration of end users and admins as Trailblazer coupled with the Trailblazer Learning (kudos to Salesforce for calling it now what it is) community is one of the efforts in the industry. Salesforce now needs some compelling CRM thought leadership in the 21st century CRM best practices ensure its lead not only from a market share, but also a thought leadership perspective.


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).


    More on Salesforce:

    • Event Report - Salesforce Dreamforce 2017 - My oh my - and serious platform news - read here
    • Event Report - Salesforce TrailheaDX - AI, Events and more - read here
    • Progress Report - Salesforce has a platform vision - 2017 it has to get real - read here
    • Event Report - Salesforce Dreamforce - It's not about Einstein - but the platform - read here
    • News Analysis - Salesforce selects AWS as preferred Public Cloud Infrastructure Provider - Good move - read here
    • Event Report - Salesforce Connections - Bringing together Builders and Studios for Marketing Success - read here
    • Event Scorecard - Salesforce Dreamforce 2015 - App, Analytics, IoT... - pre event thoughts assessment - read here
    • Event Report - Salesforce Dreamforce - Value for customers - but some concerns on direction - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and Salesforce Strengthen Strategic Partnership at Dreamforce 2015 - Good for joint customers - read here
    • News Analysis - Salesforce Unveils Breakthrough Salesforce IoT Cloud, Powered by Salesforce Thunder - First dips into IoT - read here
    • News Analysis - Salesforce Unveils the Next Wave of Salesforce Analytics Cloud—Delivering Actionable Insights Across the Customer Success Platform - Glass half full - and half empty! Read / watch here
    • Event Preview - What I would like Salesforce to address this Dreamforce 2015 - read / watch here
    • News Analysis - Salesforce Announces Salesforce App Cloud - A Unified Platform for Building Connected  Apps, Fast - It’s all coming together, across the clouds - read here
    • News Analysis - alesforce Delivers Salesforce1 Lightning Components and App Builder […] - More productivity for Admins and Developers - read here
    • News Analysis - News Analysis - Salesforce Launches Salesforce Shield - More PaaS capabilities coming to Salesforce1 Platform - read here
    • News Analysis - Salesforce Transforms Big Data Into Customer Success with the Salesforce Analytics Cloud - Read here
    • News Analysis - Market Move - Salesforce (re) enters HCM - will it rypple the market this time? - Read here
    • Event Report - Salesforce Dreamforce - A Customer Succes Platform, Analytics and Lightning - but really Salesforce is re-platforming - read here
    • Constellation Research Summary of Salesforce Dreamforce 2014 - read here
    • Research Summary - An in depth look at Salesforce1 - Better packaging or new offerng? Read here.
    • Dreamforce 2013 Platform Takeaways - All about the mobile platform - or more? Read here
    • Platform ecosystems are hard - Salesforce grows it - FinancialForce shrinks it - read here.
    • Our take on Salesforce.com Identity Connect - from three angles - Identity, CRM and PaaS - read here.
    • Takeaways from the Salesforce and Workday Strategic Partnership - read here.
    • Act II - The Cloud changes everything - Oracle and Salesforce.com - read here.
    • How many Pivots make a Pirouette? Salesforce's last Pivot - read here.

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.




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    We had the opportunity to attend SAP’s developer conference TechED in Las Vegas, held from October 8th till 12th 2018 at the Venetian Conference center. Attendance was not officially disclosed, but from other events held at the same location I’d peg it at 3k+. 




    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here




    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here): 





    Want to read on? Here you go:

    ABAP GA in SAP CP– For the longest time SAP has not supported its largest developer community, the ABAP developers. SAP started to correct course a year ago and has now delivered the first support for ABAP in CP. Spontaneous applause from the audience, as this is clearly a win for developers, CxOs and SAP. The most important thing now is to get code assets built in ABAP available on SAP CP, on the supported public IaaS, as enterprises have built millions of lines of code in ABAP. The good news to give CxOs some confidence – SAP has built even more ABAP internally and it looking as well at this re-use and migration challenge.

    SAP enters FaaS – With the SAP ambition to fully support ‘Build’ scenarios with SAP CP, it has to support as well platform innovations like Function as a Service (FaaS). Beyond that, SAP needs that for its own SaaS ambitions as well. NextGen Apps in the IoT space are unthinkable without FaaS support. SAP will have to figure out its cross-IaaS support for the new offering, stay tuned. For enterprises this is a welcome development and its key to keep an eye on the topic. Enterprises requiring FaaS for their next gen apps in the SAP ecosystem should validate in test cases / in the lab.

    Gardener is a double proof point – Open Source and Containers – Similar to its younger sibling FaaS, containers are how next gen apps are being built. Crucial to build modern next gen Apps, both from a Build and an Extension perspective. And given containers are a little longer around, SAP has already solved the multi-cloud / multi-IaaS challenge that it has with its cloud deployments… enters Gardener, an open source project for cross cloud management of Kubernetes…. SAP doing open source was very new 3-4 years ago, now almost a normalcy, but key for SAP to remain competitive and another proof point how open source has won. For CxOs this means that SAP CP cross IaaS next gen apps are becoming tangible and something to try in the labs to validate.

    MyPOV

    SAP is making substantial progress with SAP CP. With the commitment of getting the “5 sisters” (Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass, Hybris and SuccessFactors) platformed on SAP CP there is a much clearer platform strategy going forward. SAP has bet on CloudFoundry and CloudFoundry has won the PaaS market (for now). At the same time Kubernetes is for the first time giving CxOs cross IaaS portability and it’s good to see SAP supporting that with Gardener. FaaS is early days in general, especially for cross IaaS FaaS, where the IaaS vendors all try to create lock-in. But CxOs don’t want lock-in – neither does SAP – so SAP has an important role to play and may have to use its muscle to build a cross IaaS FaaS standard (dangling all the on-premise load that SAP commands will make all top 3 IaaS vendors pay attention). For CxOs this means SAP CP has delivered another proof point to be the PaaS of choice when building net gen Apps in the SAP ecosystem.

    On the concern side, SAP needs to deliver more proof points of customers building their next gen Apps. European IoT startup Kaiserwetter is a great story but getting over-used. It’s a chicken and egg problem – SAP needs to build the capabilities, enterprises need to validate them and build on them. Progress and roadmaps by the “5 Sisters” as well as S/4HANA on using SAP CP will be key to be published soon, giving CxOs the confidence to be able to steer their enterprise in the keel water of the SAP super tanker… always a good place to be for an enterprise: Use products, especially platforms – the same way as the platform vendor does. And then there is the long-term lack of native support for BigData / Hadoop in SAP CP / SAP overall. With the Cloudera / Hortonworks merger, this convo is getting even easier, as effectively there are only two vendors left (MapR is the other one). SAP needs to overcome the in memory / HANA credo by its prominent founder for the sake of customer easy to build next gen Applications.

    Overall good progress by SAP. Observers need to keep in mind this was the first of three SAP TechEds happening in short succession. Both board member Bernd Leukert and SAP CTO Bjoern Goehrke re-assured me that SAP has more platforms news in store… so expectations for Barcelona (next week, October 22nd to 25th) are up. Expect platform news there. Bangalore usually has developer news being unveiled…


    Checkout some more SAP PaaS releated assets:
    • Find the Constellation Shortlist for PaaS here
    • Recording of a conversation I had with SAP CTO Bjoern Goehrke see here
    • Offering Overview - SAP Cloud Platform - A new standard for a SaaS vendor's PaaS - see here


    And some recent SAP blogs:

    • News Analysis - Adobe, Microsoft and SAP announce the Open Data Initiative to empower a new generation of customer experiences - Good idea, good start...  - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live 2018 - Las Vegas - Sustainability and UX - read here
    • Event Takeaways - SAP at MWC 2018 - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Callidus - More Sales Effectiveness in the Back Office of the Front Office - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HCM On-Premise Option for SAP S/4HANA - or is this S/4HCM? - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and SAP join forces to give customers a trusted path to digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Hybris Live 2017 Barcelona - YaaS morphs and more agility ahead - read here
    • News Analyses Roundup - SAP's September Tech Announcements - SAP doubles down on technology - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - New Leadership - Old Challenges - read here


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    On Sunday afternoon, October 28th 2018, IBM reported that it has reached a definitive agreement to buy all issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190.00 per share, which values the acquisition at roughly $34B. That will make it the 4th largest technology acquisition in history (trailing Dell buying EMC by an order of magnitude and close to the Qualcomm acquisition of NXP ($38B) and Avago’s acquisition of Broadcom ($37B). It’s the largest software only acquisition in software history.  

    The press release can be found here, it is too long to dissect completely in our customary style, so let’s look at the key news bits:
    - Most significant tech acquisition of 2018 will unlock true value of cloud for business

    MyPOV – Agreed, easily so far the largest acquisition of the year.

    - IBM and Red Hat to provide open approach to cloud, featuring unprecedented security and portability across multiple clouds

    MyPOV – Can anyone spell Kubernetes? That’s the main platform for portability and both vendors know it and have their respective offerings between IBM Cloud Private and Red Hat Cloud Platform supporting Kubernetes. Both vendors also have OpenStack assets, but that’s a market segment that is not doing well for all parties involved (vendors and enterprises) from an original promise and potential perspective..

    - Deal accelerates IBM's high-value business model, making IBM the #1 hybrid cloud provider in an emerging $1 trillion growth market

    MyPOV – Certainly hybrid cloud is the next generation computing platform. But counting Linux related revenues is a stretch -so we need to look into more details (that IBM may not offer, at least has not offered them yet).

    - Acquisition will be free cash flow and gross margin accreditive within 12 months, accelerate revenue growth and support a solid and growing dividend

    MyPOV – Well, now we know why IBM has been unusually non-acquisitive for the last few years. It’s a much larger acquisition, actually the largest IBM has ever made and good to see that it will be not only cash flow, but also gross margin accreditive (as an aspiration).

    - IBM to maintain Red Hat's open source innovation legacy, scaling its vast technology portfolio and empowering its widespread developer community

    MyPOV – This is key for IBM to even come close at recovering the acquisition price. Given IBM’s positive track record with open source, this is a not an unrealistic outcome for IBM to achieve

    - Red Hat to operate as a distinct unit within IBM's Hybrid Cloud team

    MyPOV – Probably the most important immediate news fact. IBM will do good at not ‘breaking’ Red Hat, and starting as a separate unit is a good start. With Whitehurst reporting directly to Rometty, Red Hat will have a voice at the executive table. The challenge for Whitehurst will be to keep employees motivated, deliver on roadmap and try to keep negative “IBMization” effects away from Red Hat as much as possible. Keeping partners will be a key challenge in the first weeks.


    Here is the 1 Slide summary:


    Implications, Implications …

    Let’s look at the implications that this acquisition has for the different constituents of the cloud market:

    Implications for IBM customers

    Likely no immediate impact for IBM customer and no immediate action items. IBM customers should start the conversation on what the largest acquisition in software history brings to them. What Red Hat assets and services can make IBM’s cloud offerings better? Actively plan for a ‘blue sky’ session with your team on what it maybe worth to influence on, what to do first and what later. CxOs should find Red Hat know-how in house, and if not available, through their peers and their executive team’s network, to establish potential benefits that are coming from the acquisition - always from their enterprises’ perspective.

    Implications for Red Hat customers

    While IBM is saying clearly that Red Hat will operate separately – as an IBM division, Red Hat customers need to make sure their enterprise can remain successful on Red Hat. As always with acquisitions the customers of the acquired party need to seek immediate re-assurance on important roadmap items, not only from Red Hat, but more importantly with IBM. Only when an acquirer knows where the porcelain is in the shelves, they can make a desired planned effort not to brake it. In the longer run, CxOs need to think of what benefits can be derived from the IBM ownership – think financial stability, reach, support and services. It’s different to be the 3B or so small battleship, then dealing with the same battleship as part of a large fleet of vessels. Understand the course, investment plans and new roadmaps asap.

    Implications for partners

    For software partners there is likely no immediate impact. For Red Hat services partners it will be key to seek reassurances that Red Hat will keep them around… the IBM consulting bench that can work in the Red Hat space is (with expected training) potentially 2-3 times larger than all the consultants in the RedHat ecosystem… For IBM service partners, consider the opportunity to add a Red Hat practice, before the joint offering brings in another services firm.

    But the really tricky question is on the platform partner side. Red Hat has built a ‘Switzerland’ position vis a vis what are (or were?) IBM’s competitors, starting with AWS (see here) as well as Microsoft (see here) and Google (see here). If these vendors assume IBM is making the right bets – they will look for repeating similar acquisitions (e.g. Suse, Canonical etc.). Once that happens, we will see a resurgence of on premise server OS war. Not to forget that hardware partners like Cisco, Dell, HPE, Intel and Lenovo now have to factor in that the new Red Hat is also selling hardware (Power). This will mean a lot of lunches, dinners and events for partner managers to chart the strategies for their respective enterprises, and CxOs need to pay attention to how this unfolds.

    Implications for competitors

    On premise computing is seeing a resurgence, in short due to cloud skepticism, security, data residency and performance concerns. When even cloud ‘native’ vendors like AWS and Google are bolstering their on premises capabilities, then there is something going on. In fact, Constellation research shows that the next generation computing platform is a continuous computing platform that allows seamless workload portability for enterprises. It now comes back how much IBM competitors are willing to compete for the OS on-premises enterprise servers – or see IBM as the new ‘Switzerland’ of on premise OS. Key to watch for CxOs in the next months.

    MyPOV

    Just when the short uptake at IBM in terms of revenue growth started to stall again, IBM pulls out the largest acquisition of the year, and the largest in software history. If IBM manages to handle this right, it will spark investor confidence in the vendor, and longer term gives IBM the opportunity to give the vendor what it set our 30+ years ago: Own the on-premises server operating system – remember OS/2? Sometimes history gives you another chance.

    On the concern side, Red Hat’s problem was that on-premises servers were shrinking. This is why the vendor made new bet, in the container platform and PaaS (with OpenShift). Some investments fizzled for a number of reasons that are not in Red Hat’s control (like e.g. OpenStack). But Red Hat executives were very clear that they have understood the underlying shrink / growth mechanics: The new bets need to make up and do more than what Red Hat loose in on premise revenues. Not an easy feat. With IBM as an owner, Red Hat gets more scale and a huge sales force (and services bench). Maybe funds for more bets. But for now, IBM first needs to clarify what is right for customer in the not so few areas of overlap between what IBM offers and what Red Hat offers. That this isn’t easy and does not have to go well – just look at the IBM CMS vs IBM’s acquisition of SoftLayer.

    But overall congrats to Rometty and her team, a bold move for hybrid cloud and maybe even for PaaS. If IBM manages to keep the partnerships in place and let potential AWS / Microsoft / Google ambitions on owning the on-premises OS ease – this can be a very good move. If IBM can ever make the $34B back – is something I doubt at the moment. But it’s only a few hours – more coming in the next days- stay tuned.


    More on Red Hat

    • Market Move - Red Hat snaps up CoreOS - The Kubernetes ecosystem heats up - read here
    • Event Report - Red Hat Summit 2017 - The New Kids on the Block are thriving
    • Red Hat makes multi-cloud real, Google makes multi-PaaS real - read here

    More on IBM:
    • Event Report - IBM Think 2018 - IBM is back... - read here
    • Event Report - IBM World of Watson - IBM's bets its future on Watson - read here
    • Progress Report - IBM Alliances Insights - Deep Plans, now it is execution time - read here - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday, IBM Form Strategic Partnership on the IBM Cloud - The IaaS vendor race for SaaS load is on - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM Boosts Support to OpenStack's RefStack... first serious attempt to make OpenStack interoperability real - read here
    • Event Report - IBM Interconnect - IBM innovates and partners into the hybrid cloud era - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM and VMware announce partnership to accelerate enterprise hybrid cloud adoption >> Looking promising - read here
    • Event Preview - IBM Interconnect 2016 - read here
    • Site Visit - IBM Design Studio Austin - read here
    • MarketMoves - IBM strikes 3x in Fall - Cleversafe, The Weather Company and Gravitant - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM launches Industry's First Consulting Practice Dedicated to Cognitive Business - a good move it's early times - read more
    • News Analysis - IBM plans to acquire Cleversafe to propel Object Storage into the Hybrid Cloud >> a good move. Read here
      Market Move - IBM acquires StrongLoop - nodejs comes to BlueMix - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM and ARM Collaborate to Accelerate Delivery of Internet of Things - The IBM NextGenApps Stack emerges - read here
    • Progress Report - IBM Cloud makes good progress - but needs to attract more load - read here
    • Market Move - IBM gets into private cloud (services) with Blue Box acqusition - read here
    • Event Report - IBM InterConnect - IBM makes bets for the hybrid cloud - read here
    • First Take - IBM InterConnect Day #1 Keynote - BlueMix, SoftLayer and Watson - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM had a very good year in the cloud - 2015 will be key - read here
    • Event Report - IBM Insight 2014 - Is it all coming together for IBM in 2015? Or not? 
    • First Take - Top 3 Takeaways from IBM Insight Day 1 Keynote - read here
    • IBM and SAP partner for cloud - good move - read here
    • Event Report - IBM Enterprise - A lot of value for existing customers, but can IBM attract net new customers? Read here
    • Progress Report - The Mainframe is alive and kicking - but there is more in IBM STG - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM and Intel partner to make the cloud more secure - read here
    • Progress Report - IBM BigData an Analytics have a lot of potential - time to show it - read here
    • Event Report - What a difference a year makes - and off to a good start - 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 here

    More Market Move Blog posts:

    • Market Move - SAP acquires Callidus - More Sales Effectiveness in the Back Office of the Front Office - read here
    • Market Move - Red Hat snaps up CoreOS - The Kubernetes ecosystem heats up - read here
    • Market Move - ADP Acquires WorkMarket to Further Extend Human Capital Management to Contingent Workers [...] - The Gig Economy looms on the Future of Work - read here
    • Market Move - Saba completes acquisition of Halogen - Consolidation in the Talent Management market in North America - read here
    • Market Move - Dell Technologies is here - 3 scenarios and a bonus perspective - read here.
    • Market Move - Randstad to acquire Monster Worldwide - Bridges a moat, now it has to work - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • Market Move - Microsoft acquired Linked - Tons of synergies, start with Cortana, maybe too many - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires Ravello Systems - makes good on nested hypervisor roadmap - read here
    • Market Move - Atos completes acquisition of Unify - gets more into IP - read here
    • Market Move - Dell plans to acquire EMC, VMware, Virtustream, Pivotal and more - read here
    • Market Move - IBM acquires StrongLoop - nodejs comes to BlueMix - read here

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    SAP is back on the acquisition trail with the acquisition of 16-year-old Qualtrics, the Provo, Utah, based survey vendor. But surveys are such a 20th century category, so survey vendors are becoming experience vendors – measuring – customer, product, employee and more experiences in the form of surveys. SAP now brings together it’s operational data (that sounds so 20th century as well, so SAP calls it O-Data) with the experience data (X-Data) to help CXOs make better decisions in the digital economy. SAP is picking up Qualtrics while the vendor was on a roadshow for its IPO, which always requires some premium.
     



    But let’s dissect the press release in our traditional style (it can be found here):

    WALLDORF, Germany, PROVO, Utah, SEATTLE, Wash. — SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) and Qualtrics International Inc. (Qualtrics) today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which SAP SE intends to acquire Qualtrics, the global pioneer of the experience management (XM) software category that enables organizations to thrive in today’s experience economy.

    MyPOV – Nice summary of what is happening.


    Together, SAP and Qualtrics to accelerate the new XM category by combining experience data and operational data to power the experience economy

    MyPOV – SAP argues the high multiple for Qualtrics is justified, as it acquires a new category leader, that traditional enterprise software vendors (like SAP) have not been part of.


    Creates a highly differentiated offering for businesses to deliver superior customer, employee, product, and brand experiences

    MyPOV – These are the four key applications areas for Qualtrics.


    Ryan Smith to continue to lead Qualtrics; Qualtrics to maintain dual headquarters in Provo, Utah, and Seattle, Wash.

    MyPOV – An important organizational update. Good to keep existing leadership and operating locations in place… but Smith will report to Robert Enslin, the leader of the SAP cloud business (and now leader of the 5+1 = 6 sisters – SAP Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass, Hybris, SuccessFactors and now Qualtrics).


    Under the terms of the agreement, SAP will acquire all outstanding shares of Qualtrics for US$8 billion in cash. SAP has secured financing in the amount of €7 billion to cover purchase price and acquisition-related costs. The purchase price includes unvested employee incentive compensation and cash on the balance sheet at close. Subject to customary closing conditions and attainment of regulatory clearances, the acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2019. The Boards of Directors of SAP and Qualtrics have approved the transaction. Qualtrics’ shareholders have also approved the transaction.

    MyPOV – Interesting SAP goes for an all cash purchase but leaving this to the financial analysts to comment.


    SAP CEO Bill McDermott said: “We continually seek out transformational opportunities – today’s announcement is exactly that. Together, SAP and Qualtrics represent a new paradigm, similar to market-making shifts in personal operating systems, smart devices and social networks. SAP already touches 77 percent of the world’s transactions. When you combine our operational data with Qualtrics’ experience data, we will accelerate the XM category with an end-to-end solution with immediate global scale. For Qualtrics, this introduces a dynamic new partner with the belief, passion and scale to bring experience management to millions of customers around the world.”

    MyPOV – Good description of the opportunity. Use Qualtrics to create synergies with the rest of the SAP portfolio. McDermott predicts that Experience Management will be bigger than CRM. Agreed there are many synergies for SAP of combining the portfolios and scaling Qualtrics on a vertical level.


    McDermott added: “The combination of Qualtrics and SAP reaffirms experience management as the groundbreaking new frontier for the technology industry. SAP and Qualtrics are seizing this opportunity as like-minded innovators, united in mission, strategy and culture. We share the belief that every human voice holds value, every experience matters and that the best-run businesses can make the world run better. We can’t wait to stand beside Ryan and his amazing colleagues for the next chapters in the experience management story. The best for Qualtrics and SAP is yet to come!”

    MyPOV – Good quote by McDermott, in the usual optimistic and transformational tone and sprit.


    Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics, said: “Our mission is to help organizations deliver the experiences that turn their customers into fanatics, employees into ambassadors, products into obsessions and brands into religions. Supported by a global team of over 95,000, SAP will help us scale faster and achieve our mission on a broader stage. This will put the XM Platform everywhere overnight. We could not be more excited to join forces with Bill and the SP team in this once-in-a-generation opportunity to power the experience economy.”

    MyPOV – Good quote by Smith, basically sharing the game plan. Qualtrics software is ready, but its business model is not global (yet) and SAP will take it global. McDermott said on the call that Leonardo and HANA will become part of Qualtrics (that confirms the same strategy currently applied to the architecture of the other 5 sisters).



    SAP and Qualtrics Will Together Deliver the Transformative Potential of Experience Data (X-Data) Combined with Operational Data (O-Data)

    XM focuses on obtaining and tapping the value of outside-in customer, employee, product and brand feedback. Combining Qualtrics’ experience data and insights with SAP’s unparalleled operational data will enable customers to better manage supply chains, networks, employees and core processes. Together, SAP and Qualtrics will deliver a unique end-to-end experience and operational management system to power organizations.

    MyPOV – Another intentional / aspirational statement, that repeat what was already said.


    SAP Will Accelerate Qualtrics’ Growth and Further Its Mission by Offering Global Scale, Reach and Resources

    Leveraging SAP’s more than 413,000 customers and global salesforce of around 15,000, Qualtrics will be able to scale rapidly around the world. SAP has a strong track record of accelerating growth for the innovative companies it acquires, as exemplified by the rapid success of SAP’s recent acquisitions.

    MyPOV – Good focus on what SAP will bring to Qualtrics. Global scale. Qualtrics goes global. SAP combines data for better success in the digital transformed economy.


    Qualtrics expects full-year 2018 revenue to exceed US$400 million and projects a forward growth rate of greater than 40 percent, not including potential synergies of being part of SAP.

    MyPOV – One of the key attractions of SAP for Qualtrics – acquire a pure cloud business that is growing fast. Putting a growth engine into SAP cloud revenues.


    Following the closing of the transaction, Qualtrics is expected to maintain its leadership, personnel, branding and culture, operating as an entity within SAP’s Cloud Business Group. Ryan Smith will continue to lead Qualtrics, and Qualtrics is expected to continue to maintain dual headquarters in Provo, Utah, and Seattle, Washington.

    MyPOV – Here is the key statement of Qualtrics / Smith reporting to Rob Enslin…. Effectively creating (as above explained) the 6th sister.  


    Implications, Implications…

    Implications for SAP customers

    Likely no immediate impact for SAP customer and no immediate action items. SAP customers should start the conversation with the vendor on roadmap and future benefits. Depending on the answers and timelines, alternate survey tool implementations may be considered to go on hold. But a hold in this early phase can prove to be costly, when weighed against the overall project benefits. Actively plan for a ‘blue sky’ session with your team on what it may be worth to influence on, what to do first and what later.

    Implications for Qualtrics customers

    While SAP is saying clearly that Qualtrics will operate separately – as one of the now 6 cloud business reporting into Enslin, Qualtrics customers need to make sure their enterprise can remain successful on Qualtrics. As always with acquisitions the customers of the acquired party need to seek immediate re-assurance on important roadmap items, not only from Qualtrics, but more importantly from SAP. Only when an acquirer knows where the porcelain is in the shelves, they can make a desired planned effort not to brake it. In the longer run, CxOs need to think of what benefits can be derived from the SAP ownership – think financial stability, reach, support and services. It’s different to be the 3B or so small battleship, then dealing with the same battleship as part of a large fleet of vessels. Understand the course, investment plans and new roadmaps asap. The potential delay on future capabilities due to re-platforming on SAP CP and SAP HANA also has to be considered, as well as the readiness to run these technologies in house.

    Implications for partners


    For SAP partners there is a new expansion of services revenues. For Qualtrics partners it is key to understand the SAP partner landscape asap and make a all if they want to double down and go all in for SAP or retreat out of the larger SAP ecosystem.



    Implications for competitors

    For SAP competitors this is an area to watch and understand their own roadmaps on how to bring together survey and ERP Data. There are plenty of innovative survey companies out there, whose valuations have now likely jumped a bit. Make vs Buy decisions will also be key, as survey software is not a super substantial and long running platform, architecture and product investment.

    For Qualtrics competitors it’s good news – as there is a high chance there will be potentially more acquisitions in the space… but it needs to be a healthy business, with a working platform. With SAP owning Qualtrics, they survey business had become more global. On the good news side, Qualtrics product development speed is likely to slow down, as the product will change to the SAP Cloud Platform, SAP HANA etc. nothing that eve accelerates functional delivery speed.


    MyPOV

    SAP CEO Bill McDermott always like to talk about bold moves, and this is certainly a bold move by SAP. The earnings multiple is high, but likely the price one has to pay to snag of a soon to be IPO. Bringing survey and ERP today has been always a manual, 3rd party application process for enterprises. Owning more of that and delivering more value for CXOs is a good ambition for SAP. Qualtrics brings synergies to many of the SAP cloud business, with brand, customer surveys aiding C/4HANA, employee surveys SAP SuccessFactors and product surveys helping ERP and PLM users. The concept of the digital open door that Qualtrics has championed is powerful and deserves to be maintained in SAP’s go to market.

    On the concern side, SAP cannot forget that a lot of experience and real-world digital exhaust happens outside of surveys. Survey bias is real and for truly being an experience management leader, SAP needs to get much better at capturing this information and making sense of t. SAP’s long-standing aversion to all things Hadoop / Big Data does not help in this respect. SAP / Qualtrics customers will also have to take a critical eye what the re-platform to SAP will cost in terms of speed of functional delivery.

    But overall, a bold move by SAP. Prepping its cloud revenue stream and potentially being able to create a new software category for the enterprise with Experience  Management.
    More Market Move Blog posts:
    • Market Move - IBM acquires Red Hat -A bold move for hybrid cloud and PaaS - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Callidus - More Sales Effectiveness in the Back Office of the Front Office - read here
    • Market Move - Red Hat snaps up CoreOS - The Kubernetes ecosystem heats up - read here
    • Market Move - ADP Acquires WorkMarket to Further Extend Human Capital Management to Contingent Workers [...] - The Gig Economy looms on the Future of Work - read here
    • Market Move - Saba completes acquisition of Halogen - Consolidation in the Talent Management market in North America - read here
    • Market Move - Dell Technologies is here - 3 scenarios and a bonus perspective - read here.
    • Market Move - Randstad to acquire Monster Worldwide - Bridges a moat, now it has to work - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • Market Move - Microsoft acquired Linked - Tons of synergies, start with Cortana, maybe too many - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires Ravello Systems - makes good on nested hypervisor roadmap - read here
    • Market Move - Atos completes acquisition of Unify - gets more into IP - read here
    • Market Move - Dell plans to acquire EMC, VMware, Virtustream, Pivotal and more - read here
    • Market Move - IBM acquires StrongLoop - nodejs comes to BlueMix - read her

    And some recent SAP blogs:

    • News Analysis - Adobe, Microsoft and SAP announce the Open Data Initiative to empower a new generation of customer experiences - Good idea, good start...  - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live 2018 - Las Vegas - Sustainability and UX - read here
    • Event Takeaways - SAP at MWC 2018 - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Callidus - More Sales Effectiveness in the Back Office of the Front Office - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HCM On-Premise Option for SAP S/4HANA - or is this S/4HCM? - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and SAP join forces to give customers a trusted path to digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Hybris Live 2017 Barcelona - YaaS morphs and more agility ahead - read here
    • News Analyses Roundup - SAP's September Tech Announcements - SAP doubles down on technology - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - New Leadership - Old Challenges - read here

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend Workday’s Rising conference, held from September 30th till October 3rd, 2018, held at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas. The event had record breaking attendance, in every dimension: Attendees, hotel, partners, expos, conference program etc. always a sign of a growing vendor.

     


    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here




    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):


    Want to read on? Here you go:

    One more analytics push – Reporting, BigData, Analytics, Machine Learning are all topic that Workday has been addressing continuously across the 6 Workday Risings I have covered. No surprise, this year – given the recent acquisition of Adaptive Insights, the topic was given substantial keynote time. Question remain on integration, UI harmonization and it’s too early to declare that Workday has solved the overall analytics challenge, but it is closer than ever to close this 6+ year journey.

    Workforce Planning and Skills Cloud – A long term desire from HR practitioners is to solve the planning problem, that across the board has not been addressed well by the vendors in the market, leaving enterprises to use with 3rd party platforms and tools. Given the importance not a good solution, so good to see that Workday is trying to tackle this important area. The other key functional announcement was around the Skills Cloud – an area that as well has eluded practitioners in the past from a standpoint of out-of-the-box automation by all vendors. Skills have been a long-term ambition by Workday as well, trying to solve tricky ontology question with acquisitions and inhouse.

    PaaS for Build gets Real – The move into PaaS is key for Workday customers, as for all SaaS vendors. In the era of business process uncertainty, a PaaS gives customers the confidence to use a SaaS vendor – as when automation does not fit, they can build what the need. In 2018 it requires also to build standalone apps, a capability that Workday promised at Rising in 2017, and delivered this year. Always good to see vendors keeping their roadmap promises.

    Update from Rising 2018 – Vienna

    Being uncharacteristically late with this job post, opened it to be overtaken news wise by Workday Rising Europe, held in Vienna, November 13th – 15th 2018. Largest user conference for Workday in Europe as well. The big news was Workday disclosing its progress moving its offering to AWS. First customers in North America are live, so no it comes to rollout. After Canada, USA is next, and Germany has been announced to come first half of 2019. The latter is key to allow customer to comply with GDPR and ease Patriot Act related concerns of running their servers in North America. Good to see Workday deliver on its announcement from AWS reinvent conference a year ago.

    MyPOV

    Good progress by Workday, pushing functionality across the board and (hopefully) solving the Analytics challenge now with Adaptive Insights, it’s largest acquisition ever. Good to see the PaaS progress and interesting innovation with the Skills Cloud.

    On the concern side, Workday for a long time claimed the thought leadership for HCM, but to keep that lead it needs thought leading functionality and innovation in the core business applications. This was missing (at both) Workday Risings, and it possibly caused by the re-platform efforts that are happening in the background. For 2019 Workday will have to deliver some big thought leadership functionality to keep that lead. That the competition is idling in this key department is a frustration for HR practitioners all across the world

    But overall an impressive, well-choreographed event, as usual at Risings. Good news on customer traction, partner interest and platform /analytics innovation. Now it comes to see how customers and prospects will update the new capabilities.


    More on Workday
    • Event Report - Workday Rising 2017 - Workday opens and advances the platform - but its early days - read here
    • Summer 2017 News Analysis - Workday announces its PaaS - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday, IBM Form Strategic Partnership on the IBM Cloud - The IaaS vendor race for SaaS load is on - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday Delivers Payroll for France Customers - read here
    • Progress Report - Workday Tech Summit - Good Progress, More Insights, Less Concerns - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday and ADP partner to Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience for Global Payroll - read here
    • Event Report - Workday Rising - Learning is there and good housekeeping - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday completes Talent Management with Learning - Finally - or too late? Read here.
    • Event Preview - What I would like Workday to address this Rising read here
    • News Analysis – Workday to Expand Suite of Applications for Healthcare Industry - with a SCM twist - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday supports UK Payroll - now speaks (British English) Payroll  - read here
    • Workday 24 - 'True' Analytics, a Vertical and more - now needs customer proof points - read here
    • First Take - Top 3 Takeaways from of Workday Rising Day 1 Keynote - The dawn of the analytics era - time to deliver Insight Apps - read here
    • Progress Report - Workday supports more cloud standard - but work remains - read here



    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend Ceridian’s yearly user conference Insights 2018, held from October 15th till October 19th at Cesar’s Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. Attendance was over 3.5k, a new record for Ceridian, which has outgrown the Aria, the location of previous Insights conferences. 



    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here




    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here): 




    Want to read on? Here you go:

    Good customer and prospect traction. When vendors do well, good things come to them, in form of more market traction. And Ceridian is doing well, signing up more customers, getting more interest of prospects and gaining in the partner ecosystem. It’s frequent that I meet passengers on a plane ride to the event town, but I have had not had conversation with three prospects and one client - across seat rows - on the 50-minute short flight from San Diego to Las Vegas. Take it as an indicator for Ceridian traction. Moreover, Ceridian keeps up the impressive performance of actively converting its legacy payroll customers to its new platform, something I am not aware of anyone else doing in the industry at this scale… all signs of product strength resulting in customer traction.

    On demand pay debuts, key for underfunded employees. Cash flow remains an issue for many employees in today’s economy… it’s the fall of ‘on demand pay’ – as pretty much all vendors in the payroll business are delivering instant pay options to employees / workers. The winner is the employee / worker who can request effectively a cash advance on delivered work – before the pay day. It’s an important contribution of the industry to get employees / workers out of the claws of the sometimes-shady paycheck advance industry. Behind the scenes the capability first and foremost requires an ‘always on’ payroll, meaning a payroll that is always ready to show employees / workers what their current and up to date earnings are. To be efficient, the functionality requires a payroll that is ‘always on’ – continuously updating earnings positions as payroll relevant events happen. This is what Ceridian has since a while, so the technology behind this new capability is already available.

    Ceridian goes deeper into Talent with Succession Planning. Ceridian has been on the long-term quest of completing its Talent Management suite capabilities, and with Succession Planning that journey is concluded. Succession Management remains an important, albeit not critical component of Talent Management, so customers and prospects took note, but were not overly excited about the new capability. Nonetheless, good to see Ceridian finishing up the Talent Management Suite capability now having capability for Recruiting, Onboarding, Performance Management, Learning (own and partners), Compensation Management and Succession Management.

    MyPOV


    Good to see the market traction for Ceridian, who is a vendor that needs to be shortlisted for any workforce management intensive industry (see the Constellation Shortlist here and here). The in-build combination of workforce management, an always on payroll and now a full Talent Management suite, makes Ceridian a very attractive player for enterprises in the industry. Good to see the vendor also getting the user experience in good shape, historically a challenging area of Ceridian.

    On the concern side, Ceridian needs to push the envelope in the direction of Machine Learning / AI in general and voice as the new UI more. Last year at the user conference the vendor showed the most impressive voice demos of all HCM vendors in 2017 – a worker talking to Alexa (?) for an understanding of their shift situation and executing a shift swap. No demo this year, the vendor citing keynote time reasons… Behind an effective Machine Learning / AI strategy is the move to public cloud, to be able to leverage cheaper compute, spare capacity, low cost storage and overall compute elasticity. And Ceridian says the Dayforce suite runs on public cloud IaaS (I think Azure) but needs to move there for good. When the whole industry is moving to IaaS, it’s time for all vendors to move there to level the field.

    But overall an impressive event, Ceridian is doing well and for now the technology concerns mentioned do not concern customers and prospects, so Ceridian is … on a roll and critical to do what enterprises need to do move - be ready to accelerate and effectively accelerate in order to survive and / or thrive.


    Learn more about Enterprise Acceleration here.


    Also on Ceridian
    • Event Report - Ceridian Insights 2017 - Ceridian widens and deepens the Dayforce Suite - read here
    • Progress Report - Progress Report - Ceridian pushes onward across the board - read here
    • Progress Report – Ceridian executes on product, next challenge – implementation capacity, then sales …read here
    • Event Report - CeridianINSIGHTS 2014 - Ceridian innovates and adds key functionality - read here
    • First Take - Ceridian INSIGHTS Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • Progress Report - Ceridian makes a lot of progress - but the road(map) is long - read here
    • Ceridian transforming itself and with that the game – read here

    And unrelated to Ceridian - but how important payroll can be for HCM innovation:
    • Could the paycheck reinvent HCM - yes it can - read here
    • And suddenly... payroll matters again - read here
    • Musings - How Technology Innovation fuels Recruiting and disrupts the Laggards - read here
    • Musings - What is the future of recruiting? Read here
    • Why all the attention to recruiting? Read here.
    • Musings - Is Transboarding the future of People Talent Management? Read here


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here). And you can find a Twitter Moment on the Day #2, #3 and analyst event here.


    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here



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    We had the chance to attend AWS reInvent in Las Vegas. The conference has grown beyond the original limits of the Sands Convention Center and has now sprawled all over Las Vegas - from the Mandalay Bay all the way to the Encore. reInvent has become the get together of the IT industry, effectively wrestling that crown from VMware's VMWorld.



    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)




    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):


    4 Key Product Developments People Leaders need to track

    Global Cloud Connect – Simplify Payroll Integration

    AWS has used re:Invent conference as platform to launch new instance types – and 2017 was no exception: There is a new, general purpose instance with the new EC2 M5, that uses the new Nitro Hypervisor, giving customers more compute and memory than the older machines (see Fig #1). Bowing to the storage trends, AWS started a new instance line with EC2 H1, optimized for high disk throughput and high sequential disk I/O for very large data sets. And in preview, AWS is providing EC2 Bare Metal instances, something previously not expected, but likely a by product of the VMware partnership, and of course a great way to access hardware features (like all bare metal services). On the pricing side, AWS unveiled a new spot pricing model and is now offering hibernation for spot instances.


    Figure 1 – Andy Jessy and all AWS instance types





    Source: Twitter, @holgermu


    Constellation POV:Necessary new instance innovation by AWS, but less than usual. Likely instance development cycles and the re:Invent schedule may not have aligned. But an era to watch. On the flipside CxOs will be happy if they number of instance types will reach a stable level, and with that make the choice, selection and operation of instance types a more stable business. In the past each instance type would cause a little bit of a ‘head stir’ to CxOs responsible for AWS deployments in regards of optimal allocation of budget vs. compute. Less new instance types and more learning will create a higher comfort level for CxOs to operate on the right instance mix in AWS. AWS did also not address the general instance refresh it promised in spring of 2017 around the S3 caused downtime[i]. An opportunity to address this important housekeeping item that all IaaS vendors need to address – has been missed. And with that the opportunity to set the standard in the hardware replacement / refreshment debate that is going to happen soon given the general maturation of the industry.



    Kubernetes becomes a 1st class citizen for AWS

    At the core of IaaS providers are their methods to virtualize instances, achieved with hypervisors. Beyond hypervisors the questions are how can containers be managed efficiently at scale. And as IaaS load moves to microservices, the AWS answer was Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS), but Amazon had to pay tribute to the rising popularity of Kubernetes, and announced Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) (see Fig. #2). Amazon ECS for itself has done well with user growth up over 450% since 2016 and over 100k active clusters managed by the service and customers launched hundreds of millions of containers each week. Nonetheless Amazon had to pay tribute to the popularity of Kubernetes, not being tired of mentioning that AWS runs more Kubernetes load than anybody else in the cloud. Amazon EKS provides a Kubernetes control plane that is highly available (HA) with three masters across three availability zones (AZs).

    And with more container options, AWS also announced AWS Fargate, taking care of the often-arduous infrastructure management under a control plane for containers. Fargate supports ECS today, and support for EKS is planned in 2018.


    Figure 2 – Andy Jassy announces AWS Fargate




    Source: Twitter @holgermu


    Constellation POV:At the end of the day, IaaS providers, like AWS, need to scale and scale comes from load that enterprise can / want to run on the respective IaaS. When certain forms of load, in this case Kubernetes container load become critically popular, IaaS providers – no matter how large – need to adopt the new form of load in order to participate in the potential growth. And even very large, even market leading IaaS providers like AWS need to acknowledge the popularity with EKS. Good for enterprises, that have compatible container support for Kubernetes across the popular IaaS infrastructures. Apart from cost, the competition now moves to ease of use of running these container loads, and there AWS has a made a good start with Amazon Fargate. Not surprisingly Amazon Fargate starts with ECS, pointing to the more recent addition of EKS, but with EKS support coming in 2018, this is history.

    Databases remain key

    One functional area that anchors enterprise load are databases, and Amazon knows that well, offering a large variety of database options on AWS. The one that recently had gotten the most attention has been Aurora, launched a few years ago. Every year Aurora sees new enterprises grade features being added and re:Invent 2017 was no difference, with Andy Jassy unveiling Aurora Multi-Master capabilities, that allows to run Aurora across multiple AWS AZs. And AWS also leverages benefits of a distributed system beyond the HA benefits, which are faster write performance across the instances. Moreover, Amazon wants to make Aurora adoption and rollout easier, making Aurora available serverless, in container, with by the second pricing. Both capabilities are projecting Aurora past market leader Oracle (Jassy mentioned RAC), for the first time – so the RDBMS replacement game that AWS is trying to play will get a little more intense in 2018. For now, both capabilities are in preview, which is AWS way of a controlled beta.

    On the Amazon DynamoDB front, AWS caters to the enterprise demand of having to run more and more global systems, adding the ability of global tables. This is the ability of tables being replicated across global dispersed availability zones, taking care of mutual updates. And as enterprises put global applications on Amazon DynamoDB, they also want more efficient ways to backup data (and with a feature like Global Tables, that gets a magnitude more tricky) so Amazon announcing an on-demand backup for DynamoDB is a key and welcome new feature for Amazon DynamoDB.


    Not enough with Aurora, Amazon also launched Neptune (see Fig. 3), its native graph database at re:Invent. Graph databases are seeing a recent renaissance, after being largely replaced by relational systems in the last 40 years. The reason for the rise in popularity of graph databases lies in their inherent capability to model relationship – and relationships matter when capturing complex social relations and IoT things relations. Traversing graphs turns out to be faster, more efficient and intuitive and it’s clear that AWS wants to have a slice of the use case, announcing Neptune, AWS own native graph database offering. Neptune supports all the popular open source standard for graph database (Apache TinkerPop Gremlin and W3Cs SPARQL, making adoption easier. For now Amazon Neptune is in preview.


    Figure 3 – Andy Jassy announces Amazon Neptune



    Source: Twitter @holgermu


    Constellation POV:Database are critical load anchors for enterprises. When considering moving an enterprise application to the cloud, the question of database portability, migration and replacement always comes up. Amazon has been playing the long game for databases, understanding the demand and continuing to innovate with its native database offerings, Aurora being the most prominent recent example. Good to see the innovation with Amazon Neptune as well, the graph database use case for next generation applications must have bene substantial and too hard to ignore for AWS not to have a native offering in place… we expect good uptake for Amazon Neptune for several next generation application use cases, most prominently IoT. Good to see the innovation on the DynamoDB side, the need for more global support and out of the box replication is very high on the list when CxOs select platforms and / or databases for next generation applications.

    The question remains, when will it be enough of capabilities and AWS will be able to entice enterprises to move to e.g. Aurora with larger workloads. It’s clear in the long run there need to be more migrations for AWS database bets to turn off – otherwise a lot on premise load will just go to the respective database vendor’s cloud. But too early to tell and CxOs like that AWS keeps trying and keeps giving them options.

    Machine Learning - Lots of new offerings - Sagemaker and Deeplens stand out

    Machine Learning is the new crown jewel for IaaS providers to attract enterprise load, as enterprises need cheap compute and storage to feed their machine learning models. AWS had to reset its Machine Learning approach and strategy in 2016 when it re-positioned to MXNet. But at re:Invent MXNet did not feature very prominently either anymore. Instead, AWS was proud to mention multiple times that it runs the most TensorFlow models in the industry. More specifically, AWS focused on making it easier for enterprise and developers to become builders of machine learning modes, a general trend amongst IaaS providers. To that purpose, AWS made available Amazon SageMaker (see Fig. 4), its product to help both developers and data scientists to build, train and deploy machine learning models. We had time get a detailed demo and presentations and SageMaker is a sold V1 for the product category.



    To help customers come up to speed with Machine Learning, AWS announced the Amazon ML Solutions Lab. Amazon machine learning experts will help customers come up to speed with AWS machine learning offerings and help to foster first solutions. Good to see AWS helping its install base get their heads and arms around a modern technology that has a lot of promise for much of software. Along the same intentions Amazon also announced the AWS DeepLens, a camera device that helps developers to build machine learning applications around image (and video?) recognition use cases. In true developer ecosystem seed mode, AWS also offered a free AWS DeepLens to any participant of re:Invent who would pass many Machine Learning sessions.


    Figure 4 – Amazon SageMaker and functionaloty it provides



    Source: Twitter (@holgermu)



    Constellation POV: Good to see AWS making Machine Learning a priority, one of the key areas of automation that is in high demand by enterprises, as it traverses all next generation application use cases. It’s also important, as if one had to pick an area of relative weakness towards other IaaS competitors, then it is Machine Learning. Partnerships with other players around Gluon are the right direction to create value for customers. On the tool side Amazon SageMaker is a good start, first version to convert developers into AI developers. A long path, but definitively worth to try. AWS should and could have aimed higher at also targeting the (technically savvy) business users, who in Constellation view is the ultimate prize in  many dimensions: Propel their own business needs, help enterprises to accelerate with AI and give IaaS vendors the massive load from these applications.


    Alexa comes to Business

    Amazon has seen tremendous success with its Alexa platform. Not only from a design, technology and architecture approach, but also (and remarkably) from a go to market and partner perspective. Alexa stole the show at CES and MWC in 2017, remarkable for a vendor like AWS, who is not used to play big at these events. Partner enablement has also been a very strong point for Alexa.

    But so far Alexa was a consumer, focused home appliance. At re:Invent AWS unveiled its more business-related plans with the voice assistant, starting with hospitality industry and business room use cases. Both are compelling usage of voice assistants, getting a hotel room or conference room to do what guests / users want to do is a substantial challenge, as many have experienced firsthand. Amazon has partnered with the Wynn in Las Vegas (see Fig. 5), and took groups of influencers over to the Encore resort, showing how Alex can automate a hotel room: Lights, drapes, TV, media, customer service and  more are working use cases and the roll out at Wynn resorts and other properties are on the way. Of course, Amazon had to provide some enterprise tweaks to the consumer device, such as mass management, updates and user drive resets, just to name a few.


    Unfortunately, not shown (or I missed it) was the meeting room automation. Hours of productivity can be missed (multiplied by the number of participants) in meeting settings while participants are trying to figure out conference call and video conference equipment, display and projector management, AV settings and many more. Overall a very powerful use case for voice assistants.


    Figure 5 – The announcement of Google as a IaaS and early adopter of Workforce 


    Source: Twitter (@holgermu)

    Constellation POV: A good move by Amazon, keeping its lead with Alexa over the competition. And what was shared wasn’t future, but ongoing projects. Once a vendor has technology that is successful, it only makes sense to apply to more use cases and distribute it widely. Especially when a vendor has done so many things right as Amazon with taking Alexa to market, especially with partners. Will be interesting to learn about more use cases and to follow adoption and rollout through 2018. Very much looking forward to sitting in the first voice assisted conference room.




    A key AWS mover- an IDE

    In summer 2016 AWS acquired San Francisco based startup Cloud9, who had created a cloud (that is browser) based IDE (Integrated Development Environment). AWS now used re:Invent to properly launch the IDE as an integrated offering with the rest of AWS (see Fig. 6).

    A cloud based IDE is a powerful tool for developers, as traditionally all software development happened local to a machine. Moving the development artefacts to the cloud allows more points of access and faster sharing of development work. Collaborative aspects are easier to support, and AWS showed those successfully in the keynote at re:Invent. Cloud9 is well integrated into AWS. It supports all the latest FaaS (Function as a Service) development options and it gives direct terminal access to AWS. Finally, AWS has done well to allow developers to come up to speed quickly, as Cloud9 comes with tooling for over 40 programming languages. Provision, wait for servers etc. is not necessary with Cloud9.


    Figure 6 – Vogels unveils Cloud9



    Source: Twitter (@holgermu)


    Constellation POV: A good move by AWS. Developers tend to stick with their IDEs for a long time, and not having an IDE was a gap for traditionally very developer friendly AWS. But IDEs are like living rooms or sofas – once you have moved in, it takes a lot of effort and motivation to move out. AWS provided all the enticements needed: Starting with programming language support and related tooling, it’s easier for developers to try new things. Integration into AWS is another strong argument for Cloud9. Last but not least FaaS needs a hook / starting point and that’s the IDE. AWS could simply not afford for developers to live in a living room (that is the IDE) from competitors. Future will have to tell how well Cloud9 gets adopted, but for now it is off to a strong start.



    The Bottom Line: AWS executes on all fronts, few but key questions remain

    Another record re:Invent, that has literally busted out of the seems of the original Sands Convention Center. It is now sprawling all over the Las Vegas strip. With over 60 product announcements, AWS has certainly not slowed down on the innovation side. With over 40000 attendees, re:Invent has overtaken VMworld and is becoming quickly the yearly get together of the IT industry, an advantageous position for AWS and testament to its relevance for enterprises and vendors.



    Effectively, AWS is pushing forward on all fronts, instances, databases, serverless and microservices, machine learning, IoT (no space to cover here) and many more. Notable absent was the traditional new product going after the “old guard” vendors (as AWS likes to call them) as we had seen in past years, with AWS launching email, VDI,  center and BI capabilities. The verdict is out if AWS management does not see the 1x% profitable software categories to go after, or if product development timelines and re:Invent collided. 

    We will see at the many AWS Summits coming in the next months. [ii]

    On the concern side, AWS needs to keep working on simplification / packaging of the portfolio. The good news is that both Jassy and Vogels picked up on the need for better management and bundling, but that strategy has not reflected itself. The challenge for AWS is to transform itself from a developer’s paradise into an enterprise platform that can deliver repetitive results to build next generation applications and puts CxO concerns in regards of replicability at ease. That does not mean the end of innovation, but an easier way for CxOs to choose AWS as a platform as it gives / shows repeatable paths to they desired solution. 

    One of the emerging concerns is around Machine Learning. Expectations that AWS may announces its own neural network and compete with Google’s TensorFlow seem unlikely to happen at this point. Who would have thought that AWS would enter multiple partnerships with Seattle neighbor Microsoft on Machine Learning? The risks for AWS are tangible, if any other IaaS vendor can show faster, cheaper and better Machine Learning performance, it will create a magnetic effect on data. And with data goes load, not to mention that Machine Learning itself creates a lot of load. And load is the mother milk of IaaS vendors success.


    Overall CxOs who are charged to build next generation applications for their enterprises, have few things not to like when considering AWS. AWS is doing well, often leading in regards of instance and location build out. If offers the largest number of instance types to match to specific load profiles. Its database offerings are maturing fast and becoming quickly a valid alternative to the traditional databases (that AWS is also more than happy to operate). AWS IoT offerings are doing well, combined with its Snowball appliance, that effectively is becoming more and more an application server. Lock-in concerns can be mitigated to a certain point with EKS, given the broad adoption of Kubernetes. AWS has a strong position on serverless and microservices with lambda and Kinesis, key ingredients for next generation applications. AWS and CxOs care for developer productivity, another key alignment and attraction point. The main concern for CxOs remains around their inhouse developer talent, if their team can find the path to a successful enterprise application – relying on their talent and intuition given the innovation maelstrom AWS presents itself as.


    But for now, all things look up for AWS. Cloud9 is a strategic move that must pan out more before it can be fully assessed in regards of potential. Keeping developers happy is vital for AWS success. And Alexa’s new use cases show with what laser like focus and industrial strength precision Amazon / AWS can execute. If the competition has not been on notice, it is now.





    [i] For more details see this blog post: Down Report - Human error takes AWS S3 down in US-EAST-1 - and it is felt - 3.8 Cloud Load Toads by Holger Mueller, March 13th2017 - https://www.constellationr.com/blog-news/down-report-human-error-takes-aws-s3-down-us-east-1-and-it-felt-38-cloud-load-toads

    [ii] For more analysis check out also my colleague Dough Henschen’s event report: Amazon Web Services Adds Yet More Data and ML Services, But When is Enough Enough? Published Dec. 4th 2017 here: https://www.constellationr.com/blog-news/amazon-web-services-adds-yet-more-data-and-ml-services-when-enough-enough


    More on AWS:
    • Down Report - Human error takes AWS S3 down in US-EAST-1 - and it is felt - 3.8 Cloud Load Toads - read here
    • New Analysis - AWS has now data centers in Canada. Or is it data centres? Speaks "Canadian" now. - Read here
    • Event Report - AWS reInvent 2016 - Growth at full speed - read here
    • First Take - AWS reInvent - 1st Keynote - AWS enters the hardware business - and much more - read here
    • News Analysis - VMware has found AWS as its public cloud IaaS  - read here
    • First Take - SAP BW/4HANA - Data Gravity and Cloud win - read here
    • Event report - AWS Enterprise Summit 2016 Frankfurt - The German Road to Cloud adoption is ... long - read here
    • News Analysis - Amazon Web Services Cloud now speaks… Hindi - Indian AWS Data Centers available - read here
    • News Analysis - Salesforce selects AWS as preferred Public Cloud Infrastructure Provider - Good move - read here
    • Event Report - AWS re-Invent - AWS lobbies for the enterprise - DB and IoT are the cheese - read here
    • First Take - AWS reInvent Wednesday Keynote - Good start & AWS is going for the enterprise read here
    • Event Preview - AWS re-Invent 2015 - watch / read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit Berlin - AWS spricht Deutsch - but when will the Germans speak cloud? Read here
    • News Analysis - AWS learns Hindi - Amazon Web Services announces 2016 India Expansion - read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit San Francisco - AWS pushes the platform with Analytics and Storage [From the Fences] read here
    • Event Report - AWS re:invent - AWS becomes more about PaaS on inhouse IP - read here
    • AWS gives infrastructure insights - and it is very passionate about it - read here
    • News Analysis - AWS spricht Deutsch - the cloud wars reach Germany - read here
    • Market Move - Infor runs CloudSuite on AWS - Inflection Point or hot air balloon? Read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit in SFO - AWS keeps doing what has been working in the last 8 years - read here
    • AWS  moves the yardstick - Day 2 reinvent takeaways - read here.
    • AWS powers on, into new markets - Day 1 reinvent takeaways - read here.
    • The Cloud is growing up - three signs in the News - read here.
    • Amazon AWS powers on - read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here. 



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    We had the opportunity to attend Kronos’ yearly user conference, Kronos Works, held from November 4th till 7th 2018 in Las Vegas at the Aria Resort. Attendance was similar like the year before with 3k+, usual influencer presence. 




    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)







    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here): 




    Want to read on? Here you go:

    Kronos is doing really well – The vendor has record results and is doing well. That is remarkable, as it just has created a new product on a new platform and is moving customers towards it… while making the bulk of revenue on the old platform, that the vendor still supports. A ‘dance’ few vendors manage to dance without a revenue dip, so remarkable and kudos to the Kronos team.

    Kronos is in HCM – For the longest time, Kronos has played the role of ‘Switzerland’ when it came to HCM vendors, providing them with Time and Attendance as well as Workforce Management capabilities. That has worked well for Kronos, who has become the proverbial “800-pound gorilla” in Workforce Management. With Kronos now competing, it will be interesting how the HCM vendors will react. Lack of good workforce management solutions that are standalone and customer install base are all key factors helping Kronos at the moment.

    Aimee is Kronos’ AI assistant – Somewhat late, but better late than never, Kronos unveiled Aimee, it’s AI assistant. She will debut in 2019 and help people with 4 AI uses cases, that are the typical initial load of vendors getting started.

    Workforce Dimensions has good traction – Launched last year, Kronos new flagship product suite, Workforce Dimensions is doing well, and has now 220 customers, fewer live, more implementing… for the count being at 10 implementing 12 months ago – that’s very good progress.

    Maintenance ROI – The key for Kronos doing well overall is that it keeps creating value for the customers on Workforce Central and Workforce Now. Taking a cue from the Oracle Apps Unlimited strategy (former Oracle executive Ron Wohl is an advisor) – Kronos is providing a rich roadmap for Kronos customers on the existing, older products. This takes the typical upgrade pressure out of the process and allows customer to upgrade at their own schedule, while not being ‘stranded’ on an old solution that see no longer advancement (as often the case in the enterprise software industry.

    MyPOV

    Kronos is doing well and is on a roll. The verdict on the HCM move is still out, but it was a logical step that Kronos had to take – to keep growing. CEO Ain negated the intention long enough, but now more than the writing is on the wall. Kronos customers like the move in general… they know that workforce management is key and usually most complex piece in their HCM automation puzzle… so it is relatively easy to expand into HR Core and Payroll… Roadmaps are rich, and customers are excited on what is to come… always an advantageous position for any vendor to be in.

    On the concern side, Kronos needs to accelerate on the AI side, it is relatively late with Aimee and it needs to come up with a voice driven UI, which is key for end users. That is all not too far away for Kronos, but it needs to happen. Moving from Workforce Management to HCM means that vendors cannot hide under the complexity and compliance blanket but must show some style and appeal to motivate users… and we are not even talking Talent Management here. Kronos also needs to get their buying center to step up inside the HR buying center, quite a change for the current Kronos supporters.

    But overall an impressive event, Kronos is on a roll, partners are interested, users energized. Interesting 12 months to come. Stay tuned.

    More on Kronos:
    • Event Report - Kronos KronosWorks - Kronos unleashes the Falcon - launches Workforce Dimensions - read here
    • Progress Report - Kronos grows and grows - read here
    • Event Report - Kronos KronosWorks - Solid progress and big things loom - read here
    • Event Report - Kronos KronosWorks - New Versions, new UX, more mobile - faster implementations - read here
    • First Take - KronosWorks - Day 1 Keynote - R&D Investment, Customer Success and Analyticss - read here
    • Kronos executes - 2014 will be key - read here
    • Tweeting and feeling good about it - read here

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).



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    We had the opportunity to attend Ultimate Software’s yearly analyst summit, held November 13th and 14th 2018 at the vendor’s headquarters in Weston, Florida. Good attendance from the key influencers and a great evening program with a cooking demonstration. 


    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here)


    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here): 




    Want to read on? Here you go:

    Ultimate keeps executing on growth– Practically most HCM vendors are doing well these days, fueled by the move of HCM to the cloud and the need to replace aging technology that is no longer in synch with the best practices that people expect in 2018. Ultimate is not only growing on the revenue front, but also on the product side, innovating with AI (Zander) and pushing forward the overall functionality of the UltiPro Suite.

    HR Services is next – For a long time I have been asking Ultimate CEO Scherr on how the vendor wants to keep growing on a longer-term perspective. Until now he has always been confident that the focus on North America and HCM SaaS is enough to fuel Ultimate Software growth. And performance has proven Scherr right. Internationalization was more lukewarm effort so far, but it has not hurt the vendor. It all changed with the acquisition of PeopleDoc, unveiled July 18th, 2018. With PeopleDoc Ultimate becomes a player in HR Services and gets a lot of exposure in Europe, particularly France ang Germany. Now it will be key to see if Ultimate can leverage PeopleDoc assets and expertise beyond the upsell in North America, making it the growth engine beyond North America. End users care for growth of their software suppliers, as it reduces the cost of R&D across them and allows the vendors to deliver more functionality.

    Momentum in AI / Zander remains strong – The acquisition of Kanoya by Ultimate Software a little more than two years ago, on September 3oth, was Ultimate’s entry into AI / Machine Learning… specifically leveraging the NLP assets of Kanoya. The acquisition has been a success, with assets and people talent having made a substantial difference for Ultimate. What is impressive is the wide adoption of AI services / Zander in the Ultimate install base and how Ultimate is moving innovation into the core of its install base. In contrast to that, many competitors see delays and hesitation in using AI technologies on a wider scale.

    People first culture. Ultimate prides itself in people centricity and live these values. The core tenet of the philosophy is to treat your people right and good things will follow, most importantly, they will treat customers right. Examples for the people centricity is the inclusion of the families of employees are the fully funded healthcare. Many HCM vendors do much in this area – but none I am aware takes it to this point. The question for customers is of course, how much that matters, but most of them admire the philosophy and culture, and though not reachable for them, see it at least as an example and inspiration.


    MyPOV

    Overall it is impressive progress that Ultimate is showing on all fronts, from business overall people to technology. What matters most for customers is product and technology progress and Ultimate is innovating across the suite, with a strong push on AI / Machine Learning with Zander. The PeopleDoc acquisition is opening new potential, but also a new category software wise, as Ultimate is on the BPaaS game now and needs not only to make its customers employees, managers and HR professionals more productive, but is adding the call center reps to the equation.

    On the concern side, Ultimate has added more moving pieces to an already big puzzle of moving pieces. It needs to reach the critical escape velocity in its development processes to finish the application work on an ever-evolving technology stack, without adding more technology pieces to the puzzle, that can quickly become the great idea from yesteryear. A challenge for all established and successful vendors, and it’s time for Ultimate to master it.

    But overall very good progress by Ultimate, the next 12 months will be key to watch. Stay tuned.



    More on Ultimate Software:
    • Event Report - Ultmate Connections 2018 - More HCM, more WfM and more Xander - read here
    • Progress Report - Ultimate Software Analyst Day 2017 - Keeping the momentum - read here
    • Event Report - Ultimate Software Connections 2017 - Broadest product push (ever?)! - read here
    • Event Report - Ultimate UltiConnect - Product, Platform and Services Innovations - read here
    • First Take - First Take - Top 3 Takeaways from Ultimate’s UltiConnect Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Report - Ultimate Software Connection - People first and an exciting roadmap ahead - read here
    • First Take - Ultimate Software UltiConnect Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Report - Ultimate's UltiConnect - Off to a great start, but the road(map) is long - read here.
    • First Take – 3 Key Takeaways from Ultimate’s UltiConnect Conference Day 1 keynote – read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.


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    We had the opportunity to attend Amazon AWS reinvent user conference, held from November 26th till 30th 2018, across Las Vegas. With over 50k attendees, reinvent has become the yearly come and get together of the IT industry, a unique position that AWS first achieved in 2017 and has more than well defended in 2018. 


    Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn’t’ show up – check here



    Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):





    Want to read on? Here you go:

    AWS announces Outposts– An area where AWS risked falling behind against the rest of the IaaS competition was the area of workload portability from cloud to on-premises. The next generation computing platform as I call it has been described in the Market Overview that can be found here… And AWS was holding out likely the longest being the public cloud market leader. With the Outposts announcements, together with VMware, AWS will now bring key services to on premises, giving customer a choice between an AWS of VMware control plane. It will be available in the 2nd half of 2019 – so still a little time out. But probably the most impactful announcement from AWS – ever. It catapults AWS into the hardware maker and tech stack maker market… something you could not see coming a little back.

    AWS takes AI to hardware – An area where AWS was behind as well, was in custom hardware for AI loads. It has partnered with Nvidia as many others – but not brought forward a custom design… that changes with the new P3dn instances, that run a custom / optimized version of Tensorflow that increased efficiency from, 65 to 95%. Not enough, AWS announced a custom chip, Inferentia, that will become an alternative to GPUs, and will be optimized for high throughput and low latency. All three announcements are key make AWS more competitive vs Google, that still has a 2-3-year lead in custom AI hardware. But it is good to see AWS (finally) engaging here, more competition is good for enterprises and fosters innovation as well as price competition… all good trends for enterprises.

    AWS launches AI apps – Making it easier for business users to use AI apps is key these days and the strategy for vendors is to help them with specific, targeted apps. With Amazon Personalize, Amazon Forecast (both re-using and building Amazons e-commerce expertise), Amazon Textract (an OCR replacement)-and Amazon Comprehend Medical (Healthcare use case with NLP) there has been a broad push into AI apps. We will have to see how well practical adoption will pan out, but interests were big at reinvent.

    Database Innovation is alive and well – Amazon execs know how important databases are and how much critical enterprise load is in relational databases. The strategy of AWS is to combat the generic, all-purpose databases with more dedicated databases, all in a suite of database products. Last year Amazon unveiled Neptune, it’s graph database, this year it unveiled Quantum (a distributed ledger database, what a confusing name) and Timeseries (a time series database). A good strategy that seems to get more traction in enterprises. But AWS knows that entrenched vendors are the challenge, and Oracle specifically has almost become an obsession. Multiple references in Jassy’s and Vogels’ keynote as well as almost 30 minutes on the topic in Vogels’ keynote are almost too much attention.

    AWS open sources Firecracker– Influencing industry standards via open source has been the trend of the last two three years. Google has shown the way with Kubernetes and TensorFlow… so AWS did not want to stand back and open sources its serverless framework Firecracker… with Google focusing a level higher currently at the service mesh level, with Istio, this is an open space for anyone. And AWS has good chances given that Firecracker runs lamba at AWS, and lambda is the leading serverless platform in the cloud (from a load / uptake perspective). Now we must see if other IaaS vendors will support Firecracker and how successful AWS is at stewarding a strategic open source project. CxOs have accepted open source by now, so it really comes back to show traction in the offering from a roadmap and consumption perspective.

    Amazon QuickSight Renaissance – Two years ago Amazon debuted QuickSight a product that targets to replace the usual BI tools (remember Business Objects, Cognos, MicroStrategy?). The most promising capability was its automatic capability to visualize data. A key vision and step towards user free software, ahead of its time back then. Then it got quiet around QuickSight… but AWS does not give up easy and came back with a new attempt to win this market, and the value proposition remains strong. Time to look and evaluate this product for CxOs. True to cloud DNA, the pricing is now no longer per seat, but per session (with a maximum of $5 per reader user per month) – an innovation on the licensing side.

    AWS Tooling everywhere – Last year Amazon announced its own IDE, a key strategy to get closer to developers. But switching IDEs is not easy, so this year AWS is bringing the AWS Toolkit to PyCharm, IntelliJ (Preview), and Visual Studio Code (Preview). It’s important to help developers build apps fast and bringing the toolkit to the ‘living room’ (aka IDE) is the right strategic move.


    MyPOV

    Another monster reInvent with progress across the board. If there are areas where AWS was weaker, or even behind (on premise support, AI hardware), AWS has reacted and is making product available. The AWS Outpost announcement is changing the market for hardware fundamentally. Given AWS readiness to commit to aggressive pricing and ability to manage tight margins successfully, it is bad news for the Dell, HPs et al… and good news for CxOs. It’s a great reward for long term AWS customers, who now can move loads from the AWS cloud to on premise – should they need or wish. On the hardware front AWS is correcting its miscalculation from a few years ago when it thought Machine Learning is all about… linear regression. With the adoption of Tensorflow across the board AWS acknowledges that MxNet has not won, but is also not giving up on the toolset yet. Both are important course corrections and innovations that are key to keep AWS in the overall IaaS market leadership position.

    In general AWS is impressive when it comes to deliver innovation across the board, across the product set. An astonishing feat that the AWS product teams manage to repeat year over year. And that raises the bar for innovation for the overall industry to keep up with.

    On the concern side, the AWS portfolio is broader and deeper than ever before. AWS keeps staying with the Chinese menu philosophy, and it means massive choice… but staying with the analogy, when a Chinese restaurant adds a full menu every year, even the most loyal customers will have a hard time to keep an overview of the menu – and manage to repeat-order the same dishes (aka products) at the next visit (aka implementation project). I was not around to ask Andy Jassy my traditional question (Is AWS getting too complex?) but he came prepared (very Amazons style) and negated the question (no surprise). Customers though are struggling to find repeatable success across the vast AWS services portfolio. And cross portfolio QA and testing is getting close to impossible. So, simplification by grouping services, testing them together, aligning roadmaps, versioning and more … must be in AWS future – at some point.

    But overall respect to AWS to a massive, well organized and amazing event, sharing the breadth and depth of the AWS services portfolio and innovation. Here is to another year taming the dragon.


    More on AWS:

    • Event Report - AWS reInvent 2017 - AWS grows and grows... - read here
    • Down Report - Human error takes AWS S3 down in US-EAST-1 - and it is felt - 3.8 Cloud Load Toads - read here
    • New Analysis - AWS has now data centers in Canada. Or is it data centres? Speaks "Canadian" now. - Read here
    • Event Report - AWS reInvent 2016 - Growth at full speed - read here
    • First Take - AWS reInvent - 1st Keynote - AWS enters the hardware business - and much more - read here
    • News Analysis - VMware has found AWS as its public cloud IaaS  - read here
    • First Take - SAP BW/4HANA - Data Gravity and Cloud win - read here
    • Event report - AWS Enterprise Summit 2016 Frankfurt - The German Road to Cloud adoption is ... long - read here
    • News Analysis - Amazon Web Services Cloud now speaks… Hindi - Indian AWS Data Centers available - read here
    • News Analysis - Salesforce selects AWS as preferred Public Cloud Infrastructure Provider - Good move - read here
    • Event Report - AWS re-Invent - AWS lobbies for the enterprise - DB and IoT are the cheese - read here
    • First Take - AWS reInvent Wednesday Keynote - Good start & AWS is going for the enterprise read here
    • Event Preview - AWS re-Invent 2015 - watch / read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit Berlin - AWS spricht Deutsch - but when will the Germans speak cloud? Read here
    • News Analysis - AWS learns Hindi - Amazon Web Services announces 2016 India Expansion - read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit San Francisco - AWS pushes the platform with Analytics and Storage [From the Fences] read here
    • Event Report - AWS re:invent - AWS becomes more about PaaS on inhouse IP - read here
    • AWS gives infrastructure insights - and it is very passionate about it - read here
    • News Analysis - AWS spricht Deutsch - the cloud wars reach Germany - read here
    • Market Move - Infor runs CloudSuite on AWS - Inflection Point or hot air balloon? Read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit in SFO - AWS keeps doing what has been working in the last 8 years - read here
    • AWS  moves the yardstick - Day 2 reinvent takeaways - read here.
    • AWS powers on, into new markets - Day 1 reinvent takeaways - read here.
    • The Cloud is growing up - three signs in the News - read here.
    • Amazon AWS powers on - read here.

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Twitter Moment about Andy Jassy's keynote below (if it doesn’t show up – check here). And check here for Werner Vogels' keynote.

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.