The Cloud Hyperventilation

Here is a blog parody of a few interviews I have come across with cloud computing CEOs. The hype cycle is in full effect :) .

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Ten Major Trends for 2011 and How They Impact Professional Services and Project Delivery

As the year end approaches we all become prognosticator of all prognosticators. I ran into Jim Carroll, a bonafide futurist, in one of my trips and he inspired me to write this article for PS Village. He got me thinking about what are the trends for 2011 and how they will affect enterprise software, project and service delivery and cloud-based technologies, all of the stuff we work and live with everyday.  I started with Jim Carroll’s 2011 trends and wondered how these trends will impact our world.

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A CEO’s Perspective on Professional Services Management – Part 2

This is Part 2 of an article I wrote for PSVillage about the challenges of running an embedded services team, what a CEO expects from those who manage the service organization and some suggested best practices based on all the feedback I have received on this topic.

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What would the world look like if more managers made decisions like children?

It was my son’s tenth birthday. We finally caved in and got him an iPod, in this case the latest iPod Touch. It is an amazingly well designed device; so much you can do with it! It works and looks great. The new version is quite an improvement over its predecessor. My son got hooked on it pretty quickly and literally a few minutes later he was able to navigate and use the device on his own.

This sparked a conversation during the birthday party with a few of the parents who are also in the IT and software industry. We remarked how children follow the crowd and are loyal to a brand but only if the product truly lives up to the hype. If the iPod Touch was hard to use, too slow or ugly looking he would drop it in a minute. If something comes along from vendor XYZ that does more, is faster, looks nicer and easier to use than the iPod Touch they would embrace it pretty quickly, Apple be damned.

Generally, IT and software executives adopt new products with a completely different decision making process. What do you think?  What would change if more managers and executives made decisions like children do?

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Top Professional Services Management Challenges – Part 1

We discussed this topic in a meeting I had with a few senior people from various high tech companies. It was good to exchanges notes and see that many mid-sized high tech/software companies have experienced similar challenges with their service teams.

Please share your experiences with the management of your professional services teams. I will collect your feedback and report back to everyone with some comments and recomemndations in a part 2 of this post.

You can read the entire article at this PSVillage link.

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Which company do you think Oracle will acquire next?

A fellow blogger from ERP Software Advice asked me to post an entry for this survey so you can all vote on Oracle’s next acquisition. The article includes a pretty detailed analysis of Oracle’s acquisitons and potential new targets. Please visit the site and vote.

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To Manage Better, Think Like a Terrorist

Great management article that challenges classic defensive thinking.

Not in the business of thwarting terrorist plots? Woolley says her findings, which were later replicated in a laboratory setting, provide crucial tools for managers in less hostile environments. For starters, as you approach a problem, there is merit in merely recognizing that you and your team are likely to be operating under either a defensive or offensive bias. To mitigate the resulting dangers of analysis paralysis on the one hand and overconfidence on the other, divide your team into two groups and ask them to consider the problem from either the defensive or offensive perspective. Instead of simply anticipating the moves of a company that threatens to put yours out of business, you’ll be able to assess the peril by thinking like that company. And if you’re convinced you’ll trounce your opponents, defensive thinking will help you stop and reconsider. They may in fact have other plans.

http://blogs.bnet.com/management/?p=1477&tag=landing-pad;work-life
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How successful companies speak and think has not really changed

It is easy to spot them, the companies that have started their decent. If you hear words like:

- We are still recovering from the recession; we cannot invest
- We only want to do the basics; we cannot afford to do more
- Our management team is cutting all costs; everything non-essential has to go

On the other hand, with companies on the rise you hear words like:

- We want to substantially increase productivity, we are ready to make the investment, what does it take?
- The basics are not enough. We want to do more. We want the most advanced tools so we can compete more effectively
- We want to leverage our existing investments but our management team is looking to invest in game changers
- What are some best practices you recommend?

Companies that take risks, make investments in good or bad times and stick with them all the way, and empower their employees to think about, find and implement game changers win. Those who start “restructuring”, “right-sizing”, “focusing on essentials only” “leave projects unfinished” don’t do very well.

Hundreds of prospects and customers later. The pattern is undeniable.

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Why Generational Profiling Is Bad Management

Here is an interesting perspective on the Generation X, Y and Z at work talk we have all heard lately. Some excerpts:

Would you characterize your employees by gender, age, race, religion, or in any other way when it comes to managing them and enabling them to be successful at their jobs? Of course not. And I’m not talking about verbally or publicly. I’m talking about when you sit down to do their review, determine their raise, have a one-on-one, or interview them, would you take any of that stuff into account? Again, of course not.

You know why? Because there are at least a dozen more important and relevant factors, like job performance, experience, knowledge, team work, etc. The only profiling I’m aware of in the real business world has to do with multinational companies managing workforces in other countries where employment law, compensation, and culture are different. To me, that makes sense.

But profiling groups by generation is ridiculous, no matter what the management researchers and gurus say. Not to mention that it’s dehumanizing.

I somewhat agree with Steve Tobak’s observations in that some of this generation talk is overblown and its importance exaggerated. However, from our own experience at Tenrox younger generations have very different expectations. When it comes to recognition, rewards, raises and bonuses, of course you look at job performance, experience, knowledge and other such factors to determine what is appropriate. But everyone does not feel appreciated or get motivated the same way. For some, an equivalent valued gift, a few extra days off, a paid vacation works better than a cash bonus or a raise. We try to take such things into account when communicating with or rewarding our team members; and yes, the employee’s generation plays an important role in how we approach such discussions.

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The future of ERP: Why the ‘big ERP’ approach is dead

Interesting in-depth analysis by Infoworld on how the traditional huge multi year enterprise software investment and implementation paradigm has changed as a result of competitive pressures, technology (primarily cloud computing), the current economic chaos, and other world events.

Industry consultant Reed sums it up this way:

“‘Empower me. Give me the tools to create differentiating processes that allow me to define myself from my competitors. And make sure that it’s easier for me to do, so I don’t have to hire 100 programmers. Give me the building blocks to put that together quickly, so that it’s just humming in the background, and leave me free to focus on what makes us better than other companies.’ That’s what customers are expecting now and really want.”

Here are some other noteworthy informational tidbits:

The “single global instance” dream dies: One ERP system: a single, global instance of business software applications running our entire business and our business lines, seamlessly uniting our CRM, supply chain and business analytics applications. Efficiencies. Integration. Savings. Fewer headaches. That’s been the dream at many companies and for CIOs since Y2K — a dream most often fed to them by eager ERP vendors.

Bill McDermott, president and CEO of SAP America, stares out the tinted glass wall overlooking the bustling convention floor and then dives into the same pitch he gives the pilgrimaging executives [at SAP's Sapphire event]. “You have ERP,” says SAP America’s CEO. “The next step is to expand it to CRM and the supply chain.” The idea, he says, is to control all the data in a company by standardizing on one system for the front end and using one data source for the back. His pitch reaches its climax when McDermott sounds the message SAP has been trumpeting all week: It’s time to move to a single instance.

In other words, McDermott is telling CIOs to forget the multiple systems their companies use today, rip them out, and replace them with one ERP system — with one data store — that serves the entire company, no matter how diversified or geographically spread out it is. That, he says, is how to get the most bang for your IT buck.

That dream has now faded for many companies. Even at SAP. “I think the concept is evolving,” Say contends. “There’s a pretty open acknowledgement that — is it practical to get to a single instance across all functions of a very large, global enterprise? No. That’s not a realistic goal any more. We’re living in a world where multiple systems have to be networked together, have to communicate openly with each other and need to have sophisticated enough infrastructures on top so that the business can manage it.”

The “more evolved” thinking, Say suggests, is this: Companies can achieve consistencies and efficiencies in their business processes without having to use one singular system that manages the entire landscape.

Call it what you will: software as a service, on-demand computing, Web-based software, cloud computing. Doesn’t matter, because business software experienced via an Internet connection and browser is already here. Resistance is futile, stupid and short-sighted. At this point, however, no one (save for the SaaS vendors, perhaps) is advocating for wholesale rip and replaces of on-premise ERP installs.

But as enthusiasm for traditional, on-premise, expensive and complicated software deployments wanes even further, Web-based software options hosted in either public or private clouds will become even more attractive for companies big and small looking for low costs and easily consumed apps, analysts say

“The supervendors have architected enormous complexity in order to be able to sell across so many different verticals, in so many industries,” says AMR’s Richardson. “I think there’s a need for simplicity, and the Salesforce.com and Workday people get that.”

What is amusing is a quote from an ERP cloud vendor with their “anytime, anywhere access” mantra and slogan as if their one size fits all ERP “suite” message is any different from the mega vendors like SAP, Oracle. The bottom line message of this article is the “big one size fits all software” days are over or numbered at best.

By the end of 2009, Gartner forecasts that global SaaS revenue will reach $7.5 billion, which is an 18 percent increase from 2008 revenue of $6.4 billion.

Looking out even farther, Gartner predicts that the SaaS market will show consistent growth through 2013 when global SaaS revenue will total more than $14 billion for the enterprise software markets.

Two years from then, in 2014, is when Saugatuck predicts big change: “SaaS will become integral to infrastructure, business systems, operations and development within all aspects of user firms, with variations in status and roles based on region and business culture.”

“There are many things happening here that are good for users, good for the IT profession, good for business. It’s just good, good, good,” Pierce says. “You know, what’s slowing this adoption are all the priests of the past — all the preservationists. All the interests that are built up around the edifice that is enterprise software. … Cloud computing is a dream come true.” says Todd Pierce, CIO of Genentech

Acquisitions aside, how will the cadre of ERP vendors approach the future? Like those robots in the Transformer movies, the MISOH cartel, and other traditional ERP entities will have to change their “shapes,” and alter their strategies to stay with the times (and already have, to some degree). That means embracing — rather than resisting — on-demand and SaaS-based computing software-delivery models. And you can bet you’ll be seeing fewer and fewer “cloud computing” rants from big ERP execs, like the one that Oracle’s Ellison gave in fall 2009.

For example, in an odd 2008 interview with ZDNet, Lawson Software CEO Harry Debes proclaimed that the SaaS industry would “collapse” in two years. In the interview, Debes also noted that Lawson was a happy Salesforce.com user. In fall 2009, during an interview with CIO.com, Debes stands by his comments, saying that the feedback from Lawson’s customers at the time, which was that they did not want a SaaS solution, “was compelling.” That’s changed. And today, Debes says, “I’m a very big fan of cloud computing,” though his on-premise business still has a bright future, he contends.

Talkin’ ’bout the next generation

It’s just that the recession and years of questionable return have forcefully introduced a new strategy: Leave the commodity ERP processes to the back office (such as payroll and HR), but make damn sure that front-line users are freed from the banality and inflexibility of the Ghosts of ERP Past.

Industry consultant Reed sums it up this way: “‘Empower me. Give me the tools to create differentiating processes that allow me to define myself from my competitors. And make sure that it’s easier for me to do, so I don’t have to hire 100 programmers. Give me the building blocks to put that together quickly, so that it’s just humming in the background, and leave me free to focus on what makes us better than other companies.’ That’s what customers are expecting now and really want.”

Bill McDermott, president and CEO of SAP America, stares out the tinted glass wall overlooking the bustling convention floor and then dives into the same pitch he gives the pilgrimaging executives [at SAP's Sapphire event]. “You have ERP,” says SAP America’s CEO. “The next step is to expand it to CRM and the supply chain.” The idea, he says, is to control all the data in a company by standardizing on one system for the front end and using one data source for the back. His pitch reaches its climax when McDermott sounds the message SAP has been trumpeting all week:

It’s time to move to a single instance.

In other words, McDermott is telling CIOs to forget the multiple systems their companies use today, rip them out, and replace them with one ERP system — with one data store — that serves the entire company, no matter how diversified or geographically spread out it is. That, he says, is how to get the most bang for your IT buck.

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