Blogs in the enterprise marching forward

Take a look at our new daily news service (sorry, it’s an internal system for SAP employees). Not only is it tracking a wider array of blog content but it’s also delivered as a blog and a RSS feed, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it but looking at it and that is exactly the point… it just looks like another internal service. The prior version of the Early Bird that this replaced was antiquated and, speaking for myself, I never used it because it was e-mail only and the piece that had the links was delivered as an attachment.

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MDM Business Scenarios

This is the kind of post I would like to see more of on SDN, business scenarios presented as a demonstration point that we are, in many cases, no longer selling just application products or tools but rather business process strategies. In many ways I hate the term “business process” because I just think we have used it to death, but I have to also admit that for what the vast majority of businesses are dealing with in their day-to-day operations there is no better term than business process. MDM is an incredibly important product for SAP because it cuts to the core of what we do as a company, manage master data, but it is also representative of a competitive flash point in that SAP’s MDM product encapsulates a fundamentally different strategy for dealing with master data than Oracle’s data hubs. Therefore, if you are buying into what we are offering you are implicitly buying into our strategy for managing your master data.

I asked Kosin Huang, who works for me and has done extensive work in this MDM area to comment on the differences in ideology. Here are her comments:

SAP’s MDM approach is to primarily synchronize and harmonize data, letting BPP or SAP solution modules retain their individual master data persistence. This is different from Oracle’s DH approach, which dictates DHs as the only master data storage. It does not allow EBS modules to retain master data persistence. In this way, Oracle had ambitions to control all master data in an organization, regardless of what systems they had, SAP or otherwise. This centralized hub and spoke model however, is highly inflexible and has its weaknesses. Oracle realized this and recently changed its product plans to shift all DH technology to the Siebel platform. This move improves upon Oracle’s DH offering because Siebel lends a federated or distributed master data management approach, where any installation can be a master and any installation can be a slave. This approach is more similar to SAP’s as it allows flexibility in adapting data management to whatever business process flow the customer wants.

If the customer wants its CRM system to be the single source of creation for customer master and the one that retains all customer records, then that is easily enabled. The rules for data mapping, data distribution, and data validation for source and destination systems are easily defined as processes for managing data. The customer would not have to continually ping the hub for master data any time updates or changes need to be made. While these are Oracle’s future DH plans, currently the DH product is still based on old Oracle technology. Oracle will likely maintain the old DH product as it develops the new Siebel-based product.

Another really good blog to read on MDM topics is Andy Hayler.

SAP Developer Network Blogs:

In the part 1 of this series, I have given emphasis on differentiating between global and local data definitions for a Master Data Process. The new process should follow certain norms as ‘best business practice’ as well certain features that are made available by latest MDM tools.

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SAP Israel Update

When the current round of troubles between terrorists and the Israelis broke out I remembered back a few years ago when a suicide bomber blew himself up in Haifa and I asked one of my colleagues, who is Israeli, here in Palo Alto about that city. He looked at me and in a rather somber and unemotional way said “you know I used to live in an apartment just above that cafe”. Not only did his stoicism make an impression on me if nothing for the fortitude but it also made me sad that someone I knew could be accustomed to violence as to be just as disconnected from it as those who thankfully never had to experience it. Such is the reality in that part of the world and hopefully the current actions will finally deal with the root of the problem rather than the just the effects.

My second thought in response to the current wave of violence was to wonder how my Israeli colleagues were managing their day-to-day activities while a war is raging and their cities are under attack. SAP Labs Israel is located in the Ra’anana, a northern suburb of Tel Aviv, is if the news reports are accurate, could be within the radius of potential missile attacks. SAP operates a truly global development organization and that means that any disruption in one part is felt around the world, but at this point it appears that has not been the case.

The northern part of Israel is home to Technion University and many multinational companies, including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and KLA-Tencor, with R&D and manufacturing facilities. According to news reports, Microsoft and Intel have moved their employees to shelter locations and many companies are temporarily relocating to other parts of the country.

Not being on the ground I can only offer you what I have read in e-mails and inquired about, but it appears that SAP is taking 2 courses of action in Israel at the moment. The first is ensuring business continuity by backing up our core data center and then backing up the backup location. The more important part is ensuring the safety of our employees, and to that end SAP is, predictably, discouraging travel to the north, ensuring that all our people are up-to-speed on safety regulations and in touch with local government officials.

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More on this topic (What's this?)
Israel Is Bad for The Jews
European anti-Semitism: We are all Israel!
Hezbollah-built tunnels from Lebanon into Israel!
Read more on SAP AG, Investing in Israel at Wikinvest

I want my IM at work!

Barneyfife
My lifeline to my IM contacts while working at the office has been cut off! That’s right, in their attempts to sanitize everything that could be innovative and productive, SAP’s IT group has decided that Meebo is a security risk and blocked it. The blocking of Meebo is the latest in a long line of corporate IT actions made under the guise of “security” but I’m convinced that they simply want to eliminate those things that make the ordinary SAP employee’s work life easier, like Google/Yahoo Desktop, and Copernic (they do provide a package for MSN Deskbar, but I can tell you from experience that MSN Deskbar is one shit awful product when compared to the others). To rub salt in to the wound, the link referenced in the image below points to a list of hyperlinks to all the blocked sites… what exactly is the point of deliberately linking to sites that you are blocking?

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Truth in Advertising, Part 183.2b

Note: This post is the one I wrote a couple of weeks ago and then realized I was subject to quiet period. In light of our earnings announcement last week it would be an omission on my part to not deal with that subject. Honestly, I have not had a chance to go over all the detail but what I can say is that based on the facts that I have we just aren’t losing to Oracle any more or less than we historically have, and certainly not to the degree that Oracle would have everyone believe. We posted license growth of 8% and whatever Henning and Werner said on the call is what I would echo, with the added comment that we put up a really good Q1 (historically our weak quarter) so it doesn’t surprise me that Q2 came in soft (think pipeline). One other comment is that analysts are looking at license growth as a proxy or leading indicator, and in the market we are in I am not so sure that license growth alone is that informative anymore… but that’s probably a whole new post and I need to think it through a little more first. Anyway, what follows is the post I wrote verbatim, I didn’t edit it at all from what I originally wrote and then saved rather than published.

I need to focus on some SAP v. Oracle business today, click on through if you are not interested in that. As part of their Q4 announcement, the fellas in Redwood Shores made some statements about beating SAP 585 times in the last fiscal year. At first blush we were like WTF because that just can’t be possible, so we dug into it. As you can imagine we do our own internal win/loss and market share analysis on an ongoing basis, but in the interests of being intellectually honest about it we have to ask the question about how accurate our internal polling really is. I think we shooting it, the analysis that is, pretty straight with a slight lean to favorable to us… partly because it’s difficult to get accurate data on losses as sale executives would rather bury the bodies than talk about them.

Having said all that, we took a look at our competitive data and concluded that it is mathematically impossible for Oracle to have 585 actual wins against SAP in their last fiscal year. The simplest argument I can make is that we had to go back 6 quarters to identify 585 competitive deals against Oracle, and I don’t think it would shock you to learn that we certainly don’t lose to them 100% of the time.

Once we felt comfortable on our win/loss data we had to wonder what the hell Oracle is claiming. The only answer I can give is that Oracle is claiming every win for them in the last year as a win against SAP on the basis of the market being a duopoly and if they didn’t get the deal then we would have. This is pretty thin, IMO, because there are a few other competitors in enterprise software and a large number of deals that either vendor signs in any given time period are “roll-ups” where existing license are being consolidated under a new deal, meaning Oracle is presumably claiming non-competitive roll-up deals as wins against SAP.

I thought I would try something a little different to not only debunk this Oracle claim, but also name names and details. This is not something you are likely to get anywhere else and I had to do some serious thinking about whether or not to do this because we don’t generally talk about win/loss data in public, but I think the value of having transparency here outweighs the risks, and I cleared it with my boss so I have my ass covered.

What follows (click on the “continue reading” link) is the contents of an email from our EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region about the 585 win claim (I have similar data from North America, but this email was really well written from the standpoint of consolidating a lot of information into a no-bullshit form). I think what you will see is that not only is their claim of 585 wins dubious at best, but it’s outright fraudulent at worst and in the end their own chest beating exposes the weaknesses that Oracle has in actual sales competition with SAP. Indeed, many of the wins that Oracle claims are actually losses… and these were the ones they talked about!

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Defense Blog

Just wanted to take a moment to highlight a really great blog that our industry team for the defense marketplace has been hosting. I really like this blog because I’m interested in the topic but also because my contact there has absolutely the right motivation for championing this; he simply said to me (I’m paraphrasing) “I just can’t do anything more with the resources I have, so if this blog thing gets me in front of more people I care about and delivers valuable and actionable content to them without a big investment on my end, then I’m all about blogs!”. If you are an SAP employee on our network, be sure to check out this blog as an example of someone using innovative off-the-shelf technology to do what they were previously doing just through our portal and e-mail better.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS LINK IS FOR A BLOG BEHIND SAP’S FIREWALL, IT WON’T WORK ON THE PUBLIC INTERNET.

Defense:
Tim Horton’s joins Burger Kings, Subway, and Pizza Hut which are owned by the US Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES) and operated by a concessionaire.

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This highlights the need for us to consider a variety of “Contractor on the battlefield” scenarios when we present our solutions and value proposition.

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Quiet Period – Ugh!

I wrote a terrific post (at least I thought so) about Oracle’s recent claims of 585 wins against SAP in the last year (their fiscal year). I named names and deal specifics about where their wins were actually losses, where we actually did lose to them, and the number and specifics of deals we have taken from them, including Safe Passage specifics. So I’m feeling good about it and thinking “damn this is a first, revealing the inner workings of competitive win/loss specifics,” and then I remembered we are in quiet period. Fuck. As soon as I am in the clear I will post it.

UPDATE: While I may be gagged, Jason Corsello is not.

Oracle says they are taking share in the applications market from SAP. SAP says they are stealing Oracle customers and increasing market share over Oracle.

SAP Voices: too much plumbing…

This is from a new blog that I have on my internal SAP network (sorry, behind the firewall use only) for SAP “voices” to take advantage of. It’s something new and quite honestly not for everyone, but I have some really strong internal personalities that are blogging on on it and I’m excited to see what conversations we can have.

UPDATE: fixed the link.

SAP Voices: too much plumbing…:

“If we keep talking about the plumbing we’re going to lose the attention of business leaders. And that would be a shame.” – Andre McAfee at Harvard on Enterprise 2.0, but I think it applies to SAP in an equal measure.

SAP’s Project Muse – new UI

SAP and Adobe have had a long relationship, originally focused on PDF and forms processing and more recently on user interface collaboration. Project Muse is the fruit of that collaboration, it represents one of the UI options SAP customers can take advantage of. Written in Flash and Flex, even I can say that it looks pretty damn cool. Make no mistake about it, there is still a lot of work that SAP and everyone else in this industry can do to improve our user experience, but this project is clearly a huge step in the right direction. Perhaps more important is that this UI playbook and the tools will ultimately become something that our partners can take advantage of as well to build their own applications. Conversely, Muse is a UI for a backend that is entirely services-based which means that 3rd party providers will be able to draft their own services into the Muse client.

Project Muse is being built from the ground up as an open, standards-based architecture– using Flash and Flex technologies from Adobe/Macromedia. Project Muse can be easily extended to deliver applications, composites and any other service-enabled software from SAP and its partners or from other solution providers (think: ubiquitous business user interface for all your enterprise systems). The new client adds the richness of desktop software to the deployment efficiency of Internet software, delivering on SAP’s vision of simplifying the user experience and the software ownership experience.

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Venturing into SAP Ventures and the NetWeaver Fund

Given my history with SAP Ventures, I have and will continue to refrain from writing about the Netweaver Fund that SAP launched last week, at least as it relates to SAP Ventures. However, I do wish to point to something that Jason wrote which in my opinion does a very good job of articulating the distinctions between the two funds.

The fund was officially announced at Sapphire and, as I promised, one of my tasks was to track down the answers to my questions and dig a little deeper. Along the way, I also got the chance to get a better understanding of the current SAP Ventures initiatives and how they will compliment the new fund.

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