SAP HANA, Mobility and On Demand – where is the money ?


SAP had a great quarter – and deserves kudos for that.  Not a surprise either that maintenance revenue is the big contributor. Despite what analysts say about disruption and other such stuff – when you have a stable and committed install base, they are not going anywhere in a hurry. So SAP can take reasonable time to get new revenue streams. However it is not a permanent hall pass, and investors will become annoyed quickly if EPS drops.

 

So they have these three opportunities to make new money – HANA, Mobility and On-demand.

 

HANA is the biggest name from a pure marketing POV – SAP is shouting from the roof tops that HANA is awesome.  But what is the reality? Dennis Howlett’s post http://www.zdnet.com/blog/howlett/jim-snabe-co-ceo-sap-explains-current-business-drivers/3313?tag=mantle_skin;content says Snabe could not name a live customer for HANA.  We know there are several POC customers from the SAPPHIRE videos. We also heard the 10 Million a week pipeline .  We also heard it is fast and easy to stand up a high value HANA scenario. So why is not Snabe listing out several customer names using HANA and deriving value in production ?  Assuming 20% of the pipeline will close sales – it should bring in 72M in 2011.  May be for a 1.0 product that is pretty good.

 

So then what happens when HANA moves under BW as its database? There are about 15000 installations or so of BW as I heard somewhere. How many of these will move from ORCL, DB2 etc to HANA?  I am not convinced there will be a mass exodus from existing DB to HANA DB. For one – SAP needs to prove HANA can be fail safe in HA environments. And of course legacy DB vendors are not dumb – they will use licensing terms, instability of a new product and other FUD to delay a transition.  It is an even bigger problem when HANA goes under business suites. So how much money will SAP make out of HANA eventually?Remains to be seen.

 

Moving on to On Demand – they have two things at play. ByD  and LOB on demand. In my opinion, it is hard for SAP to make it big on ByD any time soon.  They started late, had delays, and still are aiming for low numbers. There is also the worry of cannibalizing ERP on premises.  Maybe some day this will change – but not soon enough.

 

However, LOB on demand solutions I think is a money shot.  Compared to HANA – the upfront development cost is low. A small team of product managers need to figure out a good solution. Technology is already there from ByD, and since both report into same SAP executive in Peter L, I am pretty sure ByD can be extended as needed for a good reason, if an on-demand application needs it. Development skills are existing – not new, like HANA.  And even if SAP takes time to sell this – one big customer is all they would need to break even. And since it is on internet, it can reach more people quickly. And they can/should be used on mobile. And once you institutionalize the development process – each successive application can be made faster and cheaper.

 

However, on flip side there are two big issues. One – it is never easy for a small developer to be an SAP partner to build applications on top.  And two – SAP needs scalable data centers to host this. Neither is particularly easy to pull off soon.

 

And then there is mobility – which should be the easiest place for SAP to make money., given the growing market. Every client I know of has a mobility initiative. And very few know what SAP has to offer. Which is a pity to say the least.

 

Bottom line – SAP seems to portray the next big things as HANA, On Demand and Mobility. And I think it should be exactly the other way around. What say you?

Google plus – tribes won’t follow till chiefs jump in with both feet


Couple of weeks ago – I posted my opinion on G+ in this blog. I have been lurking there since then for a bit to see if anything has changed, or whether anything has improved. And guess what – nothing has changed for me.

 

The people I follow on twitter, and via RSS feeds – they are all on G+. Not surprisingly, they are all conversing there primarily on the same discussions they are having on twitter and on their various blogs. And a lot of it is happy talk about G+ 🙂 . I also know first hand that several of these folks also have extensive back channel conversations between themselves on email threads due to privacy concerns etc.

 

As long as these folks continue to share content via twitter and other media that I am already present in, I find no reason to have yet another channel to hear the same stuff. In fact it is extremely boring and frustrating to see the same content coming at you from multiple places. In case some one says something interesting on G+, I have invariably seen some one else post it on twitter almost real time. Works for me.

 

Till such time as G+ becomes the primary channel for creating and sharing content – most of the “ordinary”, “non-geek”,”non-socmed expert” people (tribes) will stay with the incumbent platforms like facebook and twitter. I don’t think Google invited people with socmed clout (chiefs) just because platform was not ready, or because these early adopters are known for jumping into anything that is new and stay for some time at least – I think they primarily did it hoping that tribes  will follow their chiefs wherever they go. What they probably did not realize was that the chiefs will play it safe and keep a foot on old and new worlds. As long as chiefs don’t jump in with both feet, I don’t see the tribes having any reason to glance at the new shiny world.

 

Last week I read – on twitter – that G+ now has 20 million users. Very cool – impressive start. But that is a very low number if you consider the over all population of potential users (about 190M for twitter, and 750M for facebook I gather).  I have seen the “ROI is the wrong metric for social media” message touted by social media experts. I don’t buy that for a minute. And now I see a very similar argument being put forward on G+ – along the lines of “I don’ t care how it is today, I am in for the pleasure of the ride, lets see where it takes me” .  Not me – I don’t have the time or inclination to jump in for an unknown thrill ride.

 

I stayed out of google wave, SAP streamwork and twitter when they started – and once twitter proved useful, I jumped in wholeheartedly. Wave died (not unexpected), and streamwork has been steadily improving, and I have started to dip my toes a bit.  Facebook was a winner for me from day 1 – it was one place where everything I wanted to know about the latest on my hobby was posted.  I will do exactly the same for Google plus – If  (not yet sure if I can say “when”) I see the chiefs commit fully, and not treat G+ as yet another channel, I will jump in and stay.  The rationale is simple – I am less of a content provider, and more of a content consumer.  If  I become primarily a content provider, my whole perspective on this topic might have been very different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An immature take on maturity models


If something has been around for more than a day- an analyst firm will claim there is a maturity model they built around it. Then they will score everyone on it. This happens to everything from enterprise software, BI etc to something as new as social media. If you don’t trust me – stop right here, google it, and come back and read on after you have had the pleasure/dismay of knowing there is in fact multiple social media maturity models to pick from.

I think we need to have a more mature view of such maturity models. Here is why, in no particular order.

1. If hasn’t been around long enough – don’t build a maturity model around it.

Good example is the one on social media. The thing is so new – who can say with conviction that the future will look like X or Y?

2. If it cannot be measured in hard metrics, don’t bother building a maturity model till it gets there

One example  that comes to mind is Social CRM. I have seen on twitter, some very famous analysts saying ROI is the wrong question to ask. Not cool – I am yet to see any one spend serious money without clearly seeing an ROI. Companies will experiment in some new way that they hear is cool, but for a hard investment – ROI or similar hard metric is needed. Plus you can’t improve something you can’t measure

3. Maturity model assumes a certain linear progression for an organization. But why?

Say we are talking about BI. And say in some model – at the highest level of maturity, you can do complete service, and everything is based on high speed analytics and all information is available on your mobile device. Let us also say the current level of maturity is “hey Joe, any idea what we sold in Japan last quarter?”. To get from “hey Joe” to clicking a button on mobile screen, usually u have to cover  sequence of maturity levels.

Does it mean business should wait a few years while IT is jumping through hoops, and burning investments for few years before they get all the benefits?  If you look at most maturity models – that is the impression you get. But that need not be the case – nothing prevents you usually from getting a little bit of everything from the beginning and building on footprint every step of the way. The point is – if you try to explain the growth trajectory of a company in 2011 with a concept developed few decades ago, you will look foolish.

4. Mature compared to who?

If you ask a group of people if they are below average or above average individually, how many would say “below average”? This applies to organizations too.  An absolute level of maturity is an absurd concept, since what you are trying to measure typically is evolving all the time.  Getting  a printed report from a computer was probably at highest level of BI maturity some time ago, but not today.

If I could keep my eyes open for another 10 minutes, I can probably make it to a 5th bullet. But allow me to stop here – will pick this up another time.

 

 

Google Plus after a week – at best, a “may be”


I am certainly not one of the folks who jump in with both feet at every new technology that shows up on the radar. I like to stay back and watch others play with a little, read their reviews and then slowly dip my toes to see if it works for me.  I was totally planning to take the same approach with Google Plus. And that is when Dennis Howlett told me he thinks it is pretty cool, and that I should try it. I take Dennis seriously all the time, and decided to give it a try. I also got a second invite from my id to do some sandbox work without annoying my real friends.

First problem was to get signed in. This thing wouldn’t let me in unless someone invited me. And Alex Williams was kind enough to send me one. Signing in was not a big issue at all – I clicked on a few buttons and filled in my name etc and I was ready to go.

First up – Google wanted me to share Picassa albums. If I said no – google won’t let me sign up. Not a good thing in my opinion, but personally not a big deal since I use Kodak Gallery for my photos.  Lets just say the first step left a bad taste in my mouth. Of course you can limit access to your photos by playing with security settings – but why bother if I just didnt want to share my albums to begin with?

It looks to me that I can follow any one without their consent by adding them to my circle – like twitter, and unlike facebook.  Circles are not difficult to get – kind of similar to groups in facebook, or lists in twitter. Unlike twitter – no one else will know if I put you in the “dumb morons” circle.

Google plus privacy settings are going through what facebook settings went through in the past. It is straight forward to limit who can see your posts,  but kind of convoluted to prevent further sharing by people in your circle.

If you are a user of other services from google like mail or calendar, all those things are easily accessible. So that is a definite plus.

Facebook is obviously watching Google plus carefully – they have also announced skype group chats including video.  In a way – Facebook with 750 million users can probably outsmart google plus even if they just ape every cool thing google plus does. At the end, google plus is the one who has to catch up – and facebook which has a huge number of users across the globe, should be able to make use of its strong incumbent status to advantage.

For a company whose name is synonymous with search, google does not allow users to search in google plus. Isn’t that kind of backwards? It is like playbook not allowing you to use calendar and email without tethering a blackberry to it. Is that some kind of new thinking ? it could also simply be me not seeing how to use search in the limited time I test drove this.

Of course you can email people with Gmail – but why wouldn’t this allow me to send a message directly to one person in my circle? Is that kind of hard to build? Of course you can create a post and filter it to make sure only one person sees it. But that is not good design, is it?

Google had wave and buzz both of which had several geeks interested. Some companies even went so far as to build prototypes to integrate with it. Well, we know what happened – neither captured popular attention. Wave is officially dead too. So with this history, Google has a lot of baggage to shed before general public uses Google plus. This was also one of the reasons I shied away from this before Dennis nudged me to try. Google is not apple – it does not have the cool factor to pull off something just by brand name.

I saw something on twitter that google plus might soon get an IPhone and IPad app. In 2011 July, why would they go to pre-beta or whatever it is called without a mobile app?

There are no third party hello world apps there – no games, no nothing. I don’t miss it – but knowing how many people are in facebook strictly because of farmville, it is kind of hard for me to imagine there is nothing in Google plus to match. Or is it a way to tell the world “we are so cool that we don’t need to do everything facebook does?”. Why wouldn’t Google bring in google apps in here right upfront?Especially if they have enterprise ambitions.

I could see a way to get hotmail and yahoo contacts to Google plus, I couldn’t see a way to download from facebook. I am pretty sure I could get twitter feeds to integrate with Buzz. So why not with google plus? Or is it hidden somewhere? That surprised me a lot.

I did not particularly like sparks – I could not find a way of using what I have already set up on google reader via sparks. Why would I do it in two places? Not cool.

Hangouts is a pretty neat idea – but then facebook will reproduce it via skype integration, so no added edge there.

Bottom line : What is the point of a pre-beta when you can guess 9 out of 10 people will provide the feedback that all these things are expected as a minimum?

Probably because it is in trial version – there is no nuisance from advertisements. I guess that would change. As long as it doesn’t get in my face, I can live with it. However, I have an uneasy feeling about google keeping an eye on who I am friends with 🙂

I saw some well respected analyst friends of mine terming Google plus as “disruptive” and “enterprise class”.  Most of the reasoning seem to be along the lines of how pundits told us how Wave  will change how business processes work in future . After all I have described above, I find it hard to agree .  Well, if they mean it as a future dream – sure, that is possible. At the moment, it is not enterprise worthy in my opinion. Forget “facebook for enterprise” for now – it needs to mature a lot more. And for long term viability in enterprise – facebook equivalency is just tablestakes. If facebook for enterprise is the vision – i would give facebook the most chance of making it, and not google plus.  Duh !

There is however one potential use case where Google can make a difference – as the one place that unifies all kinds of information an enterprise user needs, on the cloud, with appropriate security settings. It is not easy to pull off – but if they do, they can probably make a killing.  Well, either that or some one else will integrate everything including Google Plus. If Google is smart – no reason to think other wise – they would not let this opportunity pass by.

Last thought – just like “old generation” enterprisey companies find it hard to understand the business model of  “new generation” consumery companies , I think the new guys have the same problem in reverse too.

As for me – at the moment, I am going to park Google plus. I will test drive again after some time to see if  something has changed. But meanwhile, I will be following its progress from what rest of the world says.

India’s sports awards – time to change at least the names ?


Of course Cricket is the big dog – and cricketers earn more money and fame than every one else in sports in India. Field hockey probably is next in demand, since India occasionally shows sparks of brilliance. Then there is a variety of other things like athletics, swimming, tennis etc where  India tries hard, but generally with limited success.

But despite the lack of glory in international arena – India has always had government sponsored awards for its sports persons – players and coaches. The top three being Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna award for players and Drona award for coaches.  Rajeev Gandhi – though I don’t know if he was accomplished in sports or not, was India’s Prime Minister, and probably an award in his name can be justified for his work as an administrator who supported sporting events.

But I do wonder what is the rationale for naming awards after to characters from Hindu Mythology who never stood up for the right thing.

Let us start with Dronacharya – the guy who taught martial arts to both Pandavas (popularly believed to be the good guys) and Kauravas (the bad guys). This is the man, who asked the tribal boy Ekalavya to donate his thumb as tuition fees (guru dakshina) with the sole intention that this tribal kid doesn’t become a better archer than his favorite pupil Arjuna. Years later, this is the same guy – fully knowing his side was on wrong side of justice and morality, picked up the role as chief of army for Kauravas to fight Pandavas. Now – why would the award for best coach be named after this guy, who is known for NOT doing the right thing and being partial to his favorite student ?

Moving over to Arjuna – the ace archer. This guy is a hero only because his teacher (Drona)  and dad (King of devas – Indra) and best friend (Krishna) stacked cards in his favor throughout his life, at the expense of others who played by the rules.  Now, why would the best sports person award be in honor of such a character?

Politicians decide who gets these awards every year. Some choices are inexplicable when announcements are made. That is a problem that is not easily solvable – at least in a secular country like India, government should be smart enough to at least make the award not honor less than ideal characters from Hindu mythology. Can’t they be named after sporting heros of past? Or neutral names?

Please please pretty please