Progress Software (NASDAQ: PRGS), a software solutions and platforms provider that enables enterprises to be operationally responsive, is ending 2011 on quite a positive note. Not long after its partner and user conference Progress Revolution 2011 this fall (see TEC’s exhaustive report on the multiday event), the company first picked its new CEO in Autodesk’s former top executive Jay Bhatt in late November (well thought-out succession planning, as the company’s outgoing CEO Rick Reidy announced that he would be stepping down several months ago).
Then, in early December 2011, Progress acquired privately held Corticon Technologies, an innovative business rules management system (BRMS) provider. The company’s official press release can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »
Sure, to most of us accounting sounds as exciting as watching paint dry, but no business can survive without properly managing its financial means. Especially in these days of scarce cash, processing invoices faster and more accurately by the accounts payable (A/P) or billing department is critical so that the accounts receivable (A/R) folks can get their cash faster. An efficient A/P function is something that all companies want, but few have been able to achieve.
Part 1 of this blog series described the genesis and current state of affairs of Workday – a novel company that was founded in March 2005 and launched in November 2006 by two great IT minds and PeopleSoft alumni: Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri. Part 2 of this series then got under the hood and analyzed Workday’s secret sauce: its object-oriented and in-memory database (IMDB) and definitional services approach, which involves no coding by developers.
The final part of this series will discuss who should be a good fit for Workday and who might not, and why.
The 2011 holiday shopping season seems to have arrived a bit sooner for SAP, who forked out US$3.4 billion for SuccessFactors during the first weekend of December 2011 (see SAP’s official press release). Another curiosity of the acquisition is that it took place on Saturday, which hasn’t prevented bloggers and twitterers from swiftly contributing with their off-the-cuff opinions.
Part 1 of this blog series articulated the acute need to bring supply chain planning and execution together so that enterprises can react quickly in an informed and confident fashion. The Boston Red Sox‘ September 2011 collapse was used as a poignant example of how even the best long-term planning can be rendered useless if there is no responsiveness during crunch time.
In general, if we know that our plans are inherently wrong to start with – because we can’t forecast and predict accurately – why do we still insist on religiously executing that plan? On the other hand, if you need to make a change, shouldn’t you be able to evaluate the holistic consequences of your decision, especially in these days of scarce credit and working capital?
Part 1 of this blog series talked about my very first attendance of BigIdeas, BigMachines’ annual user conference that takes place in the fall in Chicago. I wasn’t the only one that attended BigIdeas 2011 for the first time, as in May 2011 the company’s financial backers brought in David Bonnette, a seasoned Oracle executive in the customer relationship management (CRM) realm, as the new president. Mr. Bonnette has since gradually replaced the company’s founder and former CEO Godard Abel.
The highlights of Bonnette’s keynote presentation were that BigMachines has recently moved towards acting as an established company with more structured processes rather than as a slightly disorganized rapidly growing startup. Predictable results for both the vendor and its customers should come from more simplified and prepackaged offerings, and the upcoming BigMachines 12 release was previewed.
My attendance of Siemens’ two-day product lifecycle management (PLM) analyst summit in the late summer of 2011 was like trying to drink from a fire hose. Even without the plant automation and manufacturing execution system (MES) discussion (which was also included in the 2010 event), there was an abundance of products and related information, and I am still trying to wrap my mind around the main messages of the event. Look for a separate article on my impressions from the summit, eventually.
In any case, the event ended with a question and answer (Q&A) session between the analysts/bloggers and Siemens PLM top executives. One question was whether, in light of Dassault Systemes recently acquiring Intercim’s MES and Enginuity for process PLM capabilities, and PTC acquiring MKS Inc. in the application lifecycle management (ALM) space, Siemens will also make any acquisitions in the near future. The diplomatic answer by Siemens was to look for some acquisitions down the track, both for technology and functional scope expansion.
The fall of 2011 marked Theo Epstein’s move from Boston Red Sox to Chicago Cubs, whose fans have been yearning for a championship ring for well over 100 years and are fervently hoping that Theo’s curse-breaking success as the general manager in Boston will be repeated in the desolate Cubs nation. Well, 2011 also marked a much less important detail: after having to regretfully decline a few previous times, I was finally able to clear my calendar and attend BigMachines’ annual user conference dubbed BigIdeas, also in Chicago as the company’s base.
I have to confess that the attendance has changed my perceptions of the upbeat cloud software vendor somewhat. Namely, every time when we would meet in the past (most often at past salesforce.com’s Dreamforce and Oracle Open World events) the company’s staff struck me as too formal and somewhat standoffish. My earlier opinions on the vendor can be seen in this blog post from 2010 here.
My recent attendance at Progress Revolution 2011, Kinexions 2011, and several Boston APICS Chapter professional development meetings, where a plethora of companies talked about their operational experiences of late, made me realize that “business as usual” practices no longer work.
For one thing, while long-term planning remains an important exercise for senior executives’ strategic and visionary purposes (evaluating what-if scenario options and making long-term decisions), many recent events have caused serious paradigm shifts.
Trying to make rocket science-based optimized long-term plans has nearly become a fool’s errand. For example, the recent Japanese earthquake and the still ongoing floods in Thailand had quite the impact on high-tech brand owners worldwide, given that some finished goods (gadgets) manufacturers source 30 percent or even more of their critical electronic components from these regions.
At Kinexions 2011 we all heard the following sad supply chain stats: 48 percent of weekly demand plans have errors, with only 5 to 10 percent average net promoter scores (NPS), as the measure of customer loyalty, and measly 0.06 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) on return on capital (ROC) as results.
My blog post earlier this year discussed IFS AB’s (OMX Stockholm: IFS) continued market success in spite of the tough economic milieu. The IFS Applications suite is positioned as the intelligent Tier 1 enterprise resource planning (ERP) alternative choice for customers seeking efficient return on investment (ROI). The company’s “agile ERP alternative” message is well received by the market and interest in its product remains high. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this blog series described the genesis and current state of affairs of Workday – a novel company that was founded in March 2005 and launched in November 2006 by two great IT minds and notable PeopleSoft alumni: Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri. For a few years now I’ve been listening to a slew of otherwise hard-to-please analysts and bloggers raving about this software company that has purportedly finally overcome the traditional shortcomings of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems of the 1990s.
One of Workday’s earlier marketing slogans said that it was the first new business management solution to come to market “since the Web turned 2.0, Sarbanes met Oxley, and the world became flat.” In fact, Workday is a younger company than Facebook. The vendor says that its biggest distinguishing factor over traditional ERP platforms is its inherent flexibility, most notably its ability to logically reorganize personnel in a global organization on the fly as required.
My recent post Why don’t Potential Benefits of Spend Analysis Come by Easily? described typical challenges of comprehensive spend management solutions. On one hand, there are difficulties associated with massive spend data acquisition and subsequent classification and enrichment, and on the other hand, with presentation and analysis when done using rigid business intelligence (BI) tools over predefined database schemas. I analyzed some examples of automated spend analysis process improvements via expert systems and search engines, but they might also come with different shortcomings.
I concluded my post with hints of some solutions that leverage dynamic on-demand databases and easy-to-use Google-like analytic tools (dashboards) to overcome many of the challenges that previous generation spend analysis and data classification solutions fail to address.
Over the past several years, salesforce.com’s annual user conference Dreamforce has become a highly anticipated and entertaining end-of-the-year fixture for enterprise applications market observers. Well, Dreamforce 2011 was somewhat different as it took place in late August and early September 2011, but the vibrant feel of the event was no different. Indeed, in these prolonged times of bad economic news with businesses and government cutting spending across the board, one could again enjoy the unusually high attendance (45,000, for what it’s worth) and upbeat and “never a dull moment” atmosphere of the multi-day event, courtesy of salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff and his executive team.
While Dreamforce 2009 was mostly about the continued growth of the vendor and the unveiling of Salesforce Chatter, the company’s quickly maturing social platform and collaboration cloud (covered in my mid-2010 blog series), the overall Dreamforce 2010 theme was cloud proliferation as well as salesforce.com’s further diversification and expansion in new frontiers (see my blog series for more details).
Dreamforce 2011 continued with the cloud proliferation theme (with new clouds such as Data.com and Heroku for Java), in addition to the theme of continued growth: salesforce.com is the first cloud company to exceed US$2.1.billion run rate and over 100,000 customers (ironically knocking on the door of the “evil empires” elite club). There have also been some acquisitions since Dreamforce 2010, most notably DimDim and Radian6. Post-Dreamforce 2011, salesforce.com has already acquired Assistly, a customer service social software startup in the lower end of the market.
In 2005, after his PeopleSoft venture ended (successfully in financial terms, at least), I was sure that Dave Duffield would not sit still for long. And in fact, I’ve been listening to a slew of otherwise hard-to-please analysts and bloggers raving about Workday for a few years now – this company that was founded in March 2005 and launched in November 2006 by two great IT minds and PeopleSoft alumni: Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri.
Dave Duffield is Workday’s co-CEO, co-founder, and chief customer advocate. As mentioned earlier, he was co-founder, CEO, and chairman at PeopleSoft, and Workday is the fifth company that he has founded (see his full bio here). Aneel Bhusri is Workday’s co-CEO and co-founder (he was vice chairman at PeopleSoft). Aneel was named #15 on the 2011 Forbes Midas list (see his full bio here as well as other Workday leadership bios here).
Indeed, David Dobrin, Naomi Bloom, Ray Wang, Vinnie Mirchandani, Dennis Howlett, Dana Gardner, Nick Carr, Mike Krigsman, Jason Busch, Phil Wainewright, and Brian Sommer are only a few of the renowned market observers that have been talking, blogging, tweeting, and whatnot about Workday as possibly the best invention since sliced bread. Naturally, the skeptic in me has wondered what all this fuss and adulation was about. For some flavor, here are the blog posts on Workday by Dennis Howlett of ZDNet, Nick Carr of the Rough Type blog, and Vinnie Mirchandani of Deal Architect, and these seasoned and discerning fellas are not easily impressed.
I finally had a deeper look at Workday at the recent Dreamforce 2011 conference by salesforce.com (where Workday had a noted presence at the expo floor), and the vendor’s conceptual design and approach is beyond reproach. In many ways, Workday can be viewed as the next generation of good-old PeopleSoft enterprise applications. Like its predecessor, the company started with a set of best-of-breed applications around human capital management (HCM).
My recent article Has SAP Become a PLM Factor to be Reckoned With? concluded that while SAP PLM can be a system of record in most departments within enterprises, it has yet to win the hearts and minds of engineering departments for lack of its own computer-aided design (CAD) system. But the article concluded with SAP’s stated vision of providing 3D visualization and communication capabilities for all asset- and product-related processes for the entire enterprise. The SAP PLM team’s strong belief is that 3D viewing is not just for engineering departments, but also for the entire enterprise. This vision also includes user-centric workplaces for engineering and research and development (R&D) teams.
To that end, in early September 2011, SAP acquired Right Hemisphere, a leading provider of visual enterprise solutions based in San Ramon, California (US) and Auckland (New Zealand). Founded in 1997, Right Hemisphere is a provider of visual product communication and collaboration solutions enabling manufacturers to optimize their global product development, launch, and support processes. Organizations have invested in operational processes and IT systems to improve product lifecycle efficiencies, yet delivery of precise and up-to-date product information to the extended enterprise in a timely, efficient, and usable form remains difficult today.