Here in New England, for the last couple of years, a large furniture store chain called Jordan’s Furniture has run a clever promotion — if the Red Sox win the World Series, you get the furniture you bought during a certain time period for free.
I’m starting to wonder whether we’ll soon be seeing a deal like that from the big software vendors, who seem to keep getting more and more aggressive with their discounts.
iPhones are cool. I don’t have one, but people in my office have been kind enough to let me use theirs. I love that app that picks a restaurant for you when you shake the phone.
But that’s what I associate with the iPhone — fun, not business. I know people who use the iPhone to access corporate email. And I’ve heard of companies piloting the iPhone as a business tool, but they’re still relying primarily on a BlackBerry.
It seems like others share my sentiments. About a month ago, CIOs on a panel organized by SAP for the launch of Business Suite 7 shared their thoughts on the iPhone for business — so did SAP CEO Leo Apotheker. Apotheker said demand for SAP’s CRM application is much higher on the BlackBerry than it is on the iPhone.
Most said they didn’t use the iPhone for business very much. One CIO even went so far as to say it wasn’t a business tool, according to one blog.
But things are not always what they seem. The BlackBerry may have started out as a business tool — but consumers wanted more. Now you can get many comparable iPhone apps (granted, most aren’t as cool) on the BlackBerry. You can look at your Facebook page, check your Gmail or jump on YouTube for a quick laugh — all between using it to log into CRM to check your company’s sales goals for that month.
SAP named Peter Graf its first chief sustainability officer Monday. He’ll oversee development of so-called sustainable software for customers, as well as lead the vendor’s own ambitious sustainability efforts.
SAP has pledged to cut its carbon footprint in half (currently 513,000t CO2) by 2020. Among other things, the company will focus on virtualization in the data center, and cut back on business travel, replacing it with the company’s telepresence system from Cisco.
But the announcement came with less clarity around exactly what these sustainable applications would look like or when they would be available.
Rob Enslin will serve as president of SAP North America, SAP announced Wednesday.
Seem like he’s got his work cut out for him. It’s no secret that selling software now is tougher, in the United States at least, for every vendor, than it has been in the last few years.
I recently spoke with a company with a unique story — they were actually growing their landscape supply business despite the recession. They credited their SAP Business One software with helping them do so.
But when I asked Bamboo Pipeline about any problems it experienced with the software, its one gripe was a common one — the ERP implementation took twice as long as the company was told it would.
The sentiment is consistent with a recent report by Panorama Consulting Group. Of the more than 3,000 companies surveyed, 93% said their ERP implementations took longer than they expected and 65% indicated that they went over budget. Companies named lack-of employee buy-in and lack of the proper ERP skills as the two main culprits for ERP implementation problems.
Our readers have been lending some interesting advice on how to avoid ERP implementation failures, in response to a recent blog post, “What’s the real trend in failed SAP projects?” The blog questioned who was really to blame for the recent Shane Co. and Select Comfort SAP ERP implementation failures — the software, the system integrators or the company’s management.
Ensuring that you have the right skills on your project team is cited in multiple responses. In that light, SAP’s announcement this week that it will focus on increasing the quality of its workforce — largely through pushing SAP certification — is quite interesting.
SAP is not putting clauses into contracts that restrict customers from seeking third-party maintenance despite claims to the contrary, an SAP spokesman said today.
But claims that the vendor was doing so put maintenance and support back on the radar yesterday, sparked by a post on Twitter that generated quick buzz around the blogosphere.
Business Suite 7 is supposed to be easier and cheaper to deploy and use, and will give upgrades, “the kiss of death,” as SAP Co-CEO Leo Apotheker put it during yesterday’s press conference.
But most customers have to get past one more “traditional” upgrade before they can leverage Business Suite 7. So one question for the new release is — will it push more customers to upgrade?
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The big SAP buzz on the web this week is the claim by Shane and Co. that a failed SAP ERP implementation was a catalyst for the jewelry company’s descent into bankruptcy.
Reporters often joke that anything that happens three times signals a trend. So when you consider Select Comfort’s announcement last month that it was halting its SAP ERP implementation as part of a cost cutting measure, it would seem SAP is one step away from being blamed for business failures in this economy.
But what’s the real story?
Josh Greenbaum points out in his recent blog, basically, that it’s not the software’s fault that you didn’t put it in right. He argues that blame for Shane and Co.’s failings lies more squarely with the management team and the system integrator.
The same theme runs through Michael Krigsman’s chronicles of Miami-Dade School District’s SAP implementation, which is over-schedule and over-budget. Krigsman has been focusing a lot of his ink on the systems integrators’ role, plus management’s mismanagement of the project.
As it turns out, it seems a lot more companies aren’t too happy with their system integrators.
According to survey conducted by Forrester Research, a quarter of 1,002 technology decision-makers interviewed were downright dissatisfied with the work, and only 18% are very happy with it, according to research from Forrester Research’s Liz Herbert.
So how do they get better results?
Predictably, one of the ways to ensure success is by management taking a stronger role in the project. One of the biggest mistakes that companies make, Herbert said, is not changing course or correcting problems when they’re detected and just assuming they’ll correct themselves. Missing or forgoing regular check-ins can contribute to this.
So it would seem that in this economy, stronger project management will be even more important, as the margin for error is slim.
“It’s those consensus-driven companies that really cause projects to fail and to take forever because you can never move forward,” said SAP retail vice president Isaac Krakovsky. “It really does come from the top down.”
SAP just managed to complete another chapter in its ongoing legal saga with Oracle before 2008 came to a close, requesting a jury trial.
SAP filed its answer to Oracle’s third amended complaint, just before the New Year in the United States District Court in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, another settlement conference is scheduled for next month, and a federal judge has ordered SAP and Oracle to come up with a settlement figure in preparation for it.
While the courtroom battle may have little long-term impact on SAP customers it’s certainly interesting reading. There could be one effect, however — its implications on the availability of third-party software support.
If there’s a monetary settlement, and neither party admits to anything, there may be no answer to just what is and isn’t legal when it comes to third-party support. That may discourage start-ups.
Will a jury verdict better clear up these boundaries, and encourage more providers to spring up? Or is a verdict just as likely to be complicated and ambiguous?
Oracle continues to allege that SAP execs knew TomorrowNow could pose legal problems, and knowingly went forward with an illegal operation. SAP has said TomorrowNow did inappropriately download some Oracle support materials, but SAP didn’t know about it.
“Plaintiffs rely on snippets and excerpts of documents to construct a tale of intrigue, when the truth is far simpler, though less exciting,” according to SAP’s latest filing. “SAP bought [TomorrowNow] with the hope that providing ‘Oracle’ customers a choice in maintenance might give them the time to consider alternative, and better, enterprise software.”
“This case…is simply about whether TN exceeded its rights to access Plaintiffs’ computers, whether that harmed Plaintiffs, and, if so, by how much,” the document states.