Archive for the ‘sap’ category

Building trust

March 27, 2007


As most business solutions savy people know, Oracle sued SAP a week ago. The accusations are serious, and can result in serious consequences if found true.

This will not help Oracle in their struggles to get a hold of the SME market. In fact, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft are already having big trouble getting the trust they need to get any large piece of this market. None of these players speak their customers language in the sales process. All of them have large-scale legal issues that are out in the open. And all of them are big, even huge companies.

So, since when did big become bad?

Truth is, big isn’t bad at all. But for a small business it will always feel better talking to a vendor with strong precense in the local market/vincinity than talking to a small sales subsidiary of a big faceless corporation. And when the big corporation is a fighter suing its competitors, compassion may rise but trust doesn’t. As for the biggies under fire like SAP and Microsoft (in the EU courts among others), trust aren’t exactly soaring.

Oracle is suing SAP over theft of intellectual property, specifically the theft of support documents. I understand that it’s important to protect the investments in such intellectual property, but seriously – keeping support materials in the open is good for customers. This goes for all software, including ERP and business solutions.

What customers will see is big companies fighting, over and over again. All at the same time as smaller vendors with strong local presence and strong software and service offerings talk to customers about how to improve their businesses.


Valentine with a business(one) twist

March 13, 2007

AccMan continues to be a great source in my aggregator. In this post from St. Valentines Day a month ago, he mentiones the Be Nice to SAP Day. Hehehe!

SAP is pushing its Business One product hard, but it’s not a success story. The Baltic countries and South Africa are good examples; while certain industry giants are saying that the market is stalling over there, HansaWorld is experiencing tremendous growth.

When the big giants are going after the SMB/SME market, they’re up against small, international giants like HansaWorld. They’re failing in part because they don’t understand how to handle the customers, and in part because they have trouble managing dealers in this context. Selling business solutions for this market is not like selling office supplies or fortune-1000 business solutions. It takes a different kind of engagement with customers and dealers.

So, although a bit overdue (only a month), this observation is my contribution to the Be Nice to SAP Day.

Helping customers innovate

March 12, 2007

Dennis Howlett pointed me to Thomas Otter who has an funny post about innovation going on among the SAP customer base. This is an interesting take on building a user community out of business software users (the SDN, that is), but where are the success stories? Building a mouse out of the Wiimote and interfacing to a SAP application through Ruby on Rails certainly speaks to my geek self, but does it really help bring Colgate Palmolive’s business forward?

Go read the article, and watch the video. It is cool to use the Wiimote like this (although I wouldn’t say its a UI revolution). I want my Wii!

Michael Koch have some good points in the comments over at Otter’s, but I don’t agree with his point of view on why companies shy away from too much [SAP development] innovation. I take a different stance on this subject:

  • Customers innovate and did so before they got their business software
  • We’re there to help them analyze, sell and grow so that they can…
  • …innovate some more
  • And so it goes. As business solution providers, it is our task to innovate, not to create a platform and outsource the innovation. I would much rather give our customers a well equipped conference center with projectors, seats, videoconferencing… rather than a hammer, nailgun and some concrete to let them build their own.

    Communities in business (welcome to the stone-age)

    March 11, 2007

    There are communities popping out of the fabric of the internet every day now, it seems. In hindsight, this shouldn’t have been very hard to predict – the internet started out housing a community, and quickly evolved to creating new ones.

    Steve Rubel, are you with me?

    In business software, and especially when it comes to ERP, building communities among our users have played an important role for years. SAP have their user groups (such as ASUG), Oracle have theirs (TCOUG and others), as do Microsoft Dynamics AX (AXUG). I remember how Intentia (now merged with Lawson), which I used to work for, had a very active community among its users, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this too merged with some of Lawson’s user groups.

    Building communities out of the users help sell the product by the power of word-of-mouth, but also improve the vendors internal processes. It’s a great way for us to get feedback, and it’s a great way for customers to talk to us. Like all communities, ours create value for themselves and for others.

    That said, I am going to make a harsh statement: user communities among ERP vendors are as underdeveloped, underutilized and underestimated as the internet was at it’s early beginning.

    MySpace. Skype. Twitter. LinkedIn. Second Life.

    Let’s just say there is something more to do in this space, and this is one of the reasons that I love my job… (No, I can’t and won’t say anything more right now 😉 )