As I was re-reading my post on application silos I realized I forgot to include one additional example of the current problem. Recently Microsoft released Office for iPad. Now going beyond whatever I think of Office in general, I am in a situation where I have to use Office so having it (finally!) available on iPad was a really good thing. The product itself is quite good, maybe in some ways better than using Office on other devices. Needless to say that at first I was quite pleased to have near full Office capabilities on my trusty iPad. Unfortunately that happiness was short lived.
You see Microsoft has always been one of the most closed vendors, and in that, one of the worst offenders to creating application silos. Most of us today use a variety of tools to keep work in sync and to share and collaborate with team members. There are a variety of tools to manage file sync and share in the cloud, and while I like several for different reasons I haven't settled on just one. I suppose that's mostly because I don't have to, I can use several and manage just fine. I use Sugarsync to keep all my files in sync across iPad, 2 Android phones, MacBook Air, iMac and Mac Mini, and it works great. I use Box as well, and could have used it for sync but at the time I started using Sugarsync Box did not yet have a Mac client, so now inertia keeps me using both I guess. Box I use for work and yes, I use Dropbox for some personal sharing, particularly sharing family pics (it's easy and has a great UI). I also use Google Drive (I mean face it, Google has by far the best deal on storage) and I have iCloud for my Apple products as another backup. In other words I use most popular file sync and share tools for one thing or another, mostly out of convenience but also to test and compare (I am an alalyst after all). All of these tools work pretty seamlessly across tools and devices. What you'll see absent from the list is OneDrive. Now recently I am using it for one work activity, the team that I colaborate with uses it, so add another tool, no problem really.
The Microsoft problem though, is that they apparently don't know any of these other tools exist. Office for iPad connects ONLY to OneDrive and local iPad storage, so to move files on and off (or is that in and out) for Office I must use OneDrive. Not a huge deal except my files are also often already in Sugarsync (I back up everything there) and/or Box, Dropbox or Google Drive. This adds another step to my work, moving files in and out of OneDrive on my iMac / MacBook / Mac Mini. Again that wouldn't be a terrible thing but I often now only travel with my iPad and Android phones. Having Office on the iPad really enabled that. Microsoft's arcane idea of supporting only one file sync and share service creates pain and suffering for it's customers, and instead of making me use OneDrive, it makes me HATE OneDrive because of the poor user experience it creates moving files around and trying to keep them in sync (something the software does for me in other circumstances). Now I know what you're thinking, just switch to OneDrive...well, I don't want to. It's about consumer choice remember. I'm the customer and I want to use all of these excellent services, not just the one that Microsoft wants me to use. Wake up Microsoft, the days of closed application systems is over, today it's about openness, open standards and connectivity!
Here's another installment from my video recording session with the eCornell team, this time looking at customer experience and meeting customer expectations. I've written and talked about this for some time, so none of it should be particularly new. In fact, here's a post from earlier this year on building CX strategies that goes along with this video quite wekk I think.
I did a series of videos for eCornell during Dreamforce and one of them fits nicely into this series (now extended to 3 parts) so I thought I'd share it as the 2nd installment. I'll probably share a few others over the next week as well.
As we move into 2013 it's time to take a look back and see what major events shaped and changed enterprise software in 2012. It was an active year, particularly from the standpoint of continued consolidation in the enterprise software markets. Several hot trends continued to drive acquisition activity and product directions, including cloud, mobile, social, Internet of things and data analytics. Social business has started maturing somewhat and is at least much clearer in specific directions and the best areas of focus for businesses to see real benefits.
The cloud wars really started in late 2011 with SAP's acquisition of SuccessFactors but gained momentum throughout 2012. The major enterprise apps vendors are moving quickly to gain footprint and functionality in cloud apps, as well as define platforms and infrastructure. Early in 2012 Oracle fired the first return shot to the SAP / SuccessFactors deal with its bid for Taleo. Not to be left out, IBM joined the HCM race with its acquisition of Kenexa in August. HCM continues to be a hot area for investment, for more on the 2012 HCM market see this guest post from IDC analyst Lisa Rowan.
The next major cloud acquisition came, once again, from SAP with its acquisition of cloud collaborative commerce vendor Ariba. Ariba provided SAP with a full featured and mature cloud based procurement, sourcing and contract management tools and the largest and oldest supplier network. Maybe more valuable though is the cloud expertise and credibility that Ariba's executives added to the SAP management team.
Oracle filled out its cloud portfolio quite a bit by focusing on customer experience. The Oracle Cloud CX suite, which arguably started in late 2011 with the acquisition of RightNow, added social marketing platform Vitrue, socialytics platform Collective Intellect, social media management platform Involver and finally with the recently announced acquisition of marketing automation vendor Eloqua. Combined with other cloud assets in commerce, sales (Fusion CRM), content, etc., the suite has a broad footprint. I wrote about the Eloqua acquisition here. In addition to Oracle's strong move into CX Lithium acquired social support vendor Social Dynamx and IBM moved to redefine it's web experience products in the context of the overall customer experience.
Social business, particularly around enterprise social networks (ESN), applications to support CX strategies, innovation management and talent and performance management, matured quite a bit over the past year. Much like cloud almost all the major tech vendors get involved in social business technology through new acquisitions, new products and enhancements to existing social tools. Existing social vendors also moved to broaden offerings through acquisition.
ESNs are one of the hottest areas for growth as many companies have / are deploying the technology and working to consolidate existing networks. Consolidation in the ESN market started in 2011 and continued last year, as larger tech vendors moved into the space. Adding to VMware SocialCast, Salesforce Chatter, Cisco Webex Social, Tibco Tibbr and IBM Connections Microsoft purchased ESN leader Yammer for $1.2B in June, Oracle made its own Oracle Social Network generally available in the Oracle cloud, Citrix acquired Podio and SAP completely revamped its offering into SAP Jam.
More and more companies are looking for ways to drive adoption of social processes and increase productivity. Getting social embedded into the enterprise workflow is gaining support and more companies are looking for ways of providing an integrated social experience. The trend is gaining momentum as vendors move from social applications to apps that are social, or have social functionality embedded inside the workflow. At Dreamforce 2012 Concur and Salesforce announced a good example of this concept, Concurforce, an app built on the Force.com platform.
As more companies embrace social technologies internally and externally a few issues are growing that will need some answers as we move into 2013. In particular there is a growing skills gap in consulting expertise to help companies drive successful social projects and sort out ongoing operations. I wrote about it here. In addition to the skills gap there is also a growing issue for many companies that have deployed several ESN products, which often grow virally and at least initially without full executive support. This social network sprawl issue is creating the exact opposite of the desired outcome by perpetuating organizational silos. To solve this companies will have to consolidate in some cases and in other they will need to integrate the networks so that functionally a single ESN exists.
Mobile continues to be an enterprise priority as the need to support multiple devices with multiple OSs is expected by employees. Tablets continue to grow in popularity and smartphones are a standard. Many vendors have provided native mobile apps with some subset of enterprise features but are feeling pressured by customers to give compete access to enterprise features on multiple devices. Many vendors moved to provide a better mobile framework on which they can provide a richer mobile experience to cuatomers. Among those vendors that made good strides last year include Netsuite, Deltek, salesforce, SAP and Oracle, although they all have more work for this year.
Internet of things was discussed quite a lot as sensor technology gets better and more and more "things" are added to the network. In the area of automation the use of sensors with new software products is providing benefits as diverse as preventative maintenance to inventory control. From a consumer perspective the mobile device is becoming a "Swiss army knife" of sorts and integrating sensor data opens up many possibilities for health and fitness monitoring to commerce. Look for 2013 to see this trend explode across business and consumer.
There seems to be more pressure on IT over the past few years to redefine and change its roles to be more relevant to the business. What has become more of a governance and enforcer role for many IT organizations is getting pressured to find new ways of adding value as more IT buying decisions get pushed out to the line of business executives. In many companies CMOs now manage a larger IT budget than the CIO, particularly as companies deploy technology to drive CX strategies. The move to the cloud is also changing the staffing requirements for many IT shops. Many IT organizations are finding that they need more of a business process focus and less of a deep developer technical focus. Look for this trend to accelerate in 2013.
In general enterprise software has remained a growth area as companies continue to buy technology. Driving this growth are several trends, including the need to provide better mobile support, the need to get technology that helps facilitate critical CX strategies and the need to provide a more collaborative and networked work environment. As a result of the economic pressures that continue to plague businesses many companies find themselves doing more with considerably less resources. The only reasonable way to maintain and increase productivity is though automation and through better software tools. Hot markets in 2012, social, mobile, CX, etc. will continue to be hot in 2013.
So now its time for SAP to make its move and with this weeks announcement, SAP becomes a contender in the social software market. Now this didn't just happen though, there's a bit of a story to it, as one might expect. Earlier this year SAP signaled that it was getting serious about social by hiring well known social business expert Sameer Patel to head up its social business efforts as the Global VP and GM of social software solutions (DISCLAIMER: and also a friend). Sameer spent the better part of the last several years helping companies actually DO something with social business solutions, so he brings a wealth of real world experience to the position and the team. Since joining SAP he has gathered together a talented team and completely reworked SAP's strategy and offerings, and I have to admit so far, I like what I've seen.
There are quite a few ESN solutions on the market today, and frankly most have similar features. They can operate as a system of relationship across the entire organization and offer employees a modern, clean and simple way to collaborate and connect to each other, and to data, content and systems. This approach, forming a new social layer, works fine for some employees and some roles, that is, moving collaboration and a lot of day to day communication into a new system. Some employees, particularly in some specific roles, roles that spend much of their time doing work inside an enterprise system, like customer service agents or AP/AR clerks, find it undesirable or inconvenient to add an new system for communication and collaboration that is separate from the system that occupies most of their daily activities. That's why it's necessary to provide the capability to embed the ESN into other enterprise systems to get the broad adoption that delivers the greatest value from the network. While the current leading ESN's have this capability it has always seem to me that the major enterprise vendors were in a unique position here, and could leverage the ESN most effectively through inserting it into the work flows inside its other enterprise systems. That's exactly what SAP is doing with its new ESN product, SAP Jam.
SAP Jam, which is offered both on prem and in the cloud, is built to connect people (employees, partners, customers) to people, content and data in context to the enterprise work flow / process. Jam is enterprise ready, mobile (iPad app available now), secure, not silo'ed and in SAP terms "infused" across the rest of the SAP apps portfolio (phased in across the next few releases of course). The following diagram, provided by SAP, gives a good overview of the strategy:
The current roadmap, which is subject to change, provides social on-boarding and collaborative opportunity management in Q4 2012, along with several integrations including Sales OD, Finance OD, Social OD and CRM 7, as well as the Jam API. In the first half of 2013 SAP plans to add:
along with a number of additional integrations, including an OpenSocial API.
SAP has come a long way in a very short period of time, and has some very aggressive plans in the coming months. The real proof is in the execution, so I'm anxious to see how the plans progress and to talk to some live customers once there's a bit more experience with the new solutions. Based on what I've seen so far, SAP is definitely in the social business software game now, and has a good opportunity to provide significant value to its customers.
So far 2010 has been another prolific year for M&A activity in the software markets. The software industry and tech in general has seen a solid amount of M&A activity through out it's existence, but over the last 6 years or so the pace has accelerated quite a bit. The current economic conditions have created additional pressure and opportunity that has caused the pace of acquisition to increase substantially this year. Vendors looking for bargains, looking for new growth opportunities, filling needed talent gaps and looking to build out additional product capabilities have aggressively pursued the M&A route this year. We also see consolidation starting to accelerate in a few newer hot technology areas like social software, mobile and cloud, as both start ups and established vendors look to expand product portfolios to take advantage of the emerging markets.
I try to keep a reasonable list of M&A activity during the year, especially around the enterprise software markets, so I thought it might be useful to share it. If I missed anything please add it in the comments and I will update my list.