But there may be one area in which deploying SaaS applications actually brings peace of mind when it comes to security – deploying applications on mobile devices.
Allowing employees to use mobile devices for work presents the very likely scenario that they will lose them, and the subsequent data breaches that could occur.
But with SaaS, data isn’t stored on the device.
It’s one of the major reasons Optimal Solutions chose, and likes, Mowego time and expense management applications from Vivido. Optimal runs SAP FI, but wanted a mobile application that would help employees better track time and expenses. Vivido specializes in mobile applications for SAP shops.
“Handhelds can be left behind in taxi cabs and airplanes. Our nightmare scenario is that customers’ data somehow ends up on a device that is lost or stolen,” said Sam Sliman, president of Optimal, an SAP service provider. “There’s a balance there – having functionality on a device, and having a secure device. We felt like Vivido handled those issues very elegantly.”
Not storing data directly on the device is becoming increasingly important as end-users seek to have more mobile CRM-related functionality, and, consequently, more customer data, on their smartphones. End-users want SAP mobile applications that handle work beyond field services-related processes, seeking software that will help improve customer responsiveness and increase competitiveness.
And aside from the reputation and legal risk a customer data breaches exposes organizations to, almost every state now has data privacy laws in which the compliance burden is significant.
Take Massachusetts for example – which recently enacted the toughest data security law in the country. For a company headquartered in Massachusetts, the regulations apply to wherever its data is physically located – whether it’s sitting on a PC in Boston or outsourced to a data center in Palo Alto. The principle information holder is still subject to regulatory jurisdiction, according to MacDonnell Ulsch, CEO of ZeroPoint Risk Research LLC.
And guess what? Those new data privacy laws in Massachusetts are the first in the country to actually go so far as to suggest ways for people to achieve compliance – pushing people to deploy their mobile applications in the cloud model, according to 451 Group analyst Chris Hazelton.
If Massachusetts’ law becomes the gold standard for the rest of the country – SaaS could be poised to aid in the compliance challenges companies are bound to face.]]>
SAP was already partnering with TechniData to deliver a line of environment, health and safety applications. For instance, it sells an application for REACH compliance, a set of European Union regulations around the use of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing processes.
Which makes the TechniData acquisition somewhat of a surprising move, according to Ray Wang, a partner with the Altimeter Group. SAP didn’t really need to buy TechniData – it already had an OEM partnership, he said.
TechniData, with 1,600 customers and sales last year of about $84 million, was likely an acquisition target for someone else, and SAP had to move fast, he said. The software is too important in SAP’s EHS portfolio, and supremacy in the sustainability software market is too important to SAP.
“SAP sees a huge opportunity for carving out a new brand in this space,” Wang said.
Interest in TechniData could signal that the market for sustainability software is heating up (no global warming pun intended), and other vendors clearly see an opportunity in carving out a brand here as well.
Two other vendors that in particular are really pushing into this area as well include SAS and IFS, according to a report from Ovum’s Warren Wilson.
SAS launched its sustainability software in April 2008. It includes dashboards, templates and analytical tools that help companies track various environmental indicators and study costs, forecast future performance, and weigh alternatives, according to the report. Its templates are based on the Global Reporting Initiative, a non-governmental organization that is working to develop global sustainability reporting guidelines. The data it analyzes mainly comes from customers’ building management systems, which track temperature and power consumption.
IFS, an ERP vendor that targets aerospace, heavy manufacturing, energy, IT and life sciences, sells Eco-Footprint Management, which integrates with its supply chain modules, the report says.
It stands to reason that customers would start sustainability software implementations with EHS applications. While we’ve been hit over the head from SAP with what great business sense sustainability makes (a must-read in that vein is a recent blog by CIO’s Tom Wailgum, if you haven’t seen it already), compliance will likely be the major driver for many organizations.
And with customers needing help complying with the REACH regulations coming on line in the next few years, applications like the ones TechniData makes are a gold mine for vendors.]]>
“Every quarter we grab huge chunks of market share from SAP,” Ellison said, according to StreetInsider.com. “SAP’s most recent quarter was the best quarter of their year, only down 15%, while Oracle’s application sales were up 21%. But SAP is well ahead of us in the number of CEOs for this year, announcing their third and fourth, while we only had one.”
But when it comes to customer engagement, SAP seems to have the upper hand.
Oracle’s presence in social media includes a YouTube channel, several blogs — such as David Dorf’s Insight-Driven Retailing Blog and the Oracle Technology Network Blog (TechBlog) — and accounts with Facebook and Twitter.
SAP, on the other hand, has the SAP Community Network (SCN) — “perhaps the most extensive use to date of social media by a corporation,” according to a new report released last month by The Aspen Institute.
The report, “Leveraging the Talent-Driven Organization,” looks into how a number of organizations use social networking tools to broaden communication and collaboration, as well as how they use social media to develop new products and real-time solutions for customers.
By mid-2009, the report states, the SCN had 1.7 million members from 200 different countries and territories, with nearly 30,000 new members joining each month. Adding to that, the SCN has generated more than six million messages, with more than 6,000 posted daily (each question asked generates an average of 3.4 answers in a short time period, the report states).
The report also highlights one of the most valuable benefits of the SCN: it gives SAP employees at all levels real-time insights into what customers need, what they’re interested in, and what challenges they’re facing. SAP also seems to be using the SCN as a breeding ground for other social media platforms.
“Although SCN is based primarily on message boards, it also makes use of a variety of other social media tools,” the report reads. “For example, a blogging tool is available, and more than 5,000 members-only one-third of whom are SAP employees-maintain blogs on the network.”
There doesn’t seem to be anything on Oracle’s plate that compares to the SCN platform. It seems that the biggest difference between the vendors when it comes to social media strategy is that Oracle is leveraging networking more for promotions, partner relationships and providing information to users, while SAP is focusing more on the community as a whole, and allowing users and developers to take over the discussion.
“…SAP is taking a decidedly different approach to social networking,” reads a recent post on the blog The VAR Guy. “Instead of promoting SAP’s own content, the company depends heavily on developers, partners and customers to drive the conversation.”
“Down with big” is a theme that’s playing out well with the public this year. Down with big government. Down with big bonuses. Why not, down with Big ERP?
In fact, Infor started running a campaign called just that in December – “Down with Big ERP.”
It’s a good time to carry that torch. There is growing evidence that single instance ERP is “no longer the holy grail” it was once, and the shift is on to a two-tier ERP strategy for some organizations, according to a blog post by Ray Wang.
“Market forces, a move to adopt new disruptive technologies, slow pace of innovation from incumbent vendors, and high maintenance fees have changed many organization’s perspectives. Add a slew of rapidly changing business requirements battling rigid legacy infrastructures and next gen CIO’s have been forced to depart from the standard apps strategies. In fact, improved integration, web services, and SaaS deployments “have now improved the success rates and ROI for Two-Tier ERP apps strategies.”
Perhaps no one is exploiting this trend better than NetSuite – which will continue its major push on ripping and replacing SAP at subsidiaries and business units of large SAP customers, CEO Zach Nelson said when he and his team visited our offices this week.
The vendor still won’t put numbers to how many SAP customers it’s actually won here, but Nelson did say they just won a head to head deal with SAP for a manufacturer.
A couple of months ago, NetSuite announced its largest rip and replace deal yet – RedBuilt, a manufacturer with roughly 250 employees which was running an old version of R/3 – 3.1. One of the main reasons RedBuilt went with them was they knew migrating SAP users was a major focus.
“We knew a growth area was to migrate SAP users,” RedBuilt CEO Kurt Liebich said. “We knew this was going to be a visible project for them and they wouldn’t let it fail.”
SAP has said Business ByDesign –due out in July — is for this market as well — but is the message getting through? It’s something that NetSuite is capitalizing on. And it’s evident that other vendors will start to look to as well.]]>