Rapid Implementation – is the promised land finally here ?


Mike Krigsman posted this today morning on his ZDNET blog http://www.zdnet.com/blog/projectfailures/predicting-2012-rapid-implementation-in-focus/ . I tried to post a comment, but somehow that does not seem to have posted. So I thought of posting it here.

 

I am not entirely convinced that Rapid Deployments will bring terrific benefits, but will be watching it closely in 2012.  At the moment , I have apprehensions.

 

1.  If faster implementation is such a big agenda item for Enterprise Software vendors, why do this half way approach of Rapid Implementation? Why not go all the way and offer it as SaaS ? Is the idea to milk perpetual licenses for on-premises software for a bit longer, just by repackaging it?

 

2.  Fixed price is a good thing – but hardly unique. Most ERP projects now are following a fixed price contracting structure. I know no one likes change orders – but change orders happen mostly because of scope definition inaccuracies. Projects are progressive in nature – especially ERP projects. So even in Rapid Deployment, at some point – customers will find out they will need something else on top. Will the software vendors provide such changes for free without a change order? If not – will customers feel happy just by paying a software vendor instead of doing it inhouse or paying consultants to do the work?

 

3. Consumerization of IT – making IT “sexy” and “easy” – is a good thing for the business users. However Rapid depolyments only solve a part of this problem, which is the installation part.  While it is a good start – will customers see enough value with just one part of the puzzle solved?

 

4. Rise of CFO’s office is definitely not a 2012 thing. CFOs have always taken active role in IT (and other) investment decisions.  CIOs very rarely report to CEOs, they either report to CFO or to Chief Procurement Officer.

 

5. Who supports Rapid implementation solutions after the vendor walks out of the door? Will there be enough skills in the market for outsourcing companies to provide such support?

 

6. What about integration costs? Stand alone systems always cost more in the long term. Once the rapid implementation goes through enhancements and integration with existing systems – will it offer any benefits beyond other on-premises solutions from the same vendors? And if you enhance a prepackaged solution – will a vendor still provide standard support ?

 

Happy New Year !

 

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SAP Mobility solutions – Should SI’s play or stay on sidelines?


As many of you know – all my professional life, I have worked for System Integrators – both big and small. And as a result, every time there is something new in enterprise software, I am curious to see if SIs have any role to play , or whether they should just sit it out.  Of everything SAP has come out with in recent past – HANA is the one that got the most air time from SAP and the analyst/blogger community , but I think mobility is the one that will drive the most revenue for the ecosystem in short to medium term. It does not need a lot of convincing to do to get a customer to agree that mobile solutions are the future.

From the consumer side of the world – most mobility apps have typically been built by independent developers, and not by big IT houses.  For Enterprise side – especially for SAP – we need to think through if that is the model that will work exactly that way.  I am a big fan of SAP opening up platforms to developers – as long as developers can do cost effective development, protect their IP and make some decent money out of it.  And along with a bunch of similar minded people – I have been trying to push this message for some time at the highest levels at SAP.

But is there something here for SIs ? I think there is plenty of the mobility pie to go around. Here, I will ignore  the obvious stuff that SIs will do – the mobility strategy, device management , security and so on.  Those are important, but  don’t need added color.

For building and reselling apps – it is hard for SIs to compete on cost with independent developers if the platform is inexpensive.  BUT – Platform access is not inexpensive now – so SIs have an upper hand temporarily till SAP gets its act together. But I can’t imagine SAP not changing this in 2012.

But for the cost to work in SIs favor – they will need to find a killer app that can be resold many times over.  This usually needs the SI to create a few with the idea that some will click, and some will not. This is not consistent with existing SI business models. SIs have a big opportunity cost to consider – every hour spent developing such an asset is an hour they are not doing billable work. So it remains to be seen how many will jump in with both feet.  The bigger SIs probably will do ok – since they have significant abilities to invest, and can wait for longer pay back periods. But in general – I don’t see large number of SIs playing seriously on building such apps.  In everyone’s best interest – this is best done by independent developers, in my opinion.

For SAP systems – a big problem for building generic horizontal applications is that most backend systems are heavily customized.  A consistent abstraction to the outside world for non-SAP developers to use is not always possible.  So, even if a developer creates a generic enough mobile app – in most cases,  there will be a need to do some back end plumbing to get it all working in a useful fashion. This is the model I see evolving in the market from maybe 2013 onwards. Independent developers building the front end apps, may be even contracted by SIs to do so – and existing SIs doing the integration to backend.

Where I see big and small SIs both having a great advantage is building end-to-end mobility solutions for a specific client, especially where the SI has long standing experience.  Ideally – these should be vertical for an industry, and can be leveraged across many projects. This needs a large set of skills to come together – deep industry and sub-industry knowledge,  business process design, UX design, development in multiple technologies, basis, security, industrial strength testing and so on.  This is totally a sweet spot for SIs – and I would expect them to be all over this. And the beauty of this is that there is a production support opportunity right after the implementation, which is again a sweet spot for many SIs. The trick here is that this can and should be done for specific only very high value usecases – something where customer realizes significant value.

Now – for all this goodness to happen, there are a few things SAP need to play well too.

1. Make it easy for regular developers to use SAP platforms to build apps – not just the development, but the whole lifecycle of IP protection,  testing, certification, monetizing, maintenance, support and all that good stuff

2. Keep SAP Education on the front, and not the back of innovation. Unless the ecosystem comes up to speed on the latest greatest technology – it does not matter how cool the innovation is in the labs. Maybe even throw in some inexpensive education for select ecosystem partners. Basically – do what it takes to get partners/developers to trust SUP is the way to go, and get them away from everything else they are using today. This includes ironing out any wrinkles from existing software, and educating developers on roadmap for future.

3. Actively partner with SIs – and I expect this to be totally opportunistic depending on lay of the land – to push mobility solutions at the thousands of clients world over.  For significant mobility sales – the attitude of “Business gets it, IT doesn’t ” should be left checked at the door. IT gets it alright – and usually have valid concerns on security, scalability etc. Work with IT to address their concerns and gain their confidence.

4. By SAPPHIRE Orlando in 2012, have several customers come up and talk about their mobility solutions to the world.

5. Make sure licensing for customer is scalable and not a total rip off.

6. Try not to drown the mobility message with HANA and others

Will the economy hurt SAP? BofA/Merrill thinks it will, I seriously doubt it


Today morning, I saw this news  http://www.businessinsider.com/analyst-sap-headed-for-rocky-patch-2011-12 and then this article in Forbes ( written by someone in Forbes Staff, not advoice)  http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2011/12/16/sap-merrill-downgrades/?partner=yahootix

BofA / Merrill Lynch analyst Chandramouli Sriraman downgraded the stock from Buy to Neutral.  And when I checked the stock for SAP AG, it seemed to be trading about 2.6% down.

And few minutes ago, my buddy John Appleby defended SAP in his blog . http://peopleprocesstech.com/2011/12/17/sap-2011-results-analysis-the-awful-economy-is-really-going-to-hurt-financial-analysts/

Just a few days ago, I was in Boston,MA attending SAP Influencer summit. If anything, SAP executives were more bullish than usual – not less. And they have good reasons to be that way. SAP outperformed the industry, and had a great Q3.  SAP also has made significant investments into the future – in-memory, mobile, cloud etc.

SAP has some of the best sales leaders on the planet, and it shows in their results. The first year of its existence, they aimed to sell 100M of HANA . And they probably will. And remember, this is the 1.0 version of HANA – something that just supports datamarts, the simplest of usecases.  What I am trying to say is – it can only become better from here.  Now BW works on HANA, and they are building other stuff on HANA – and eventually they will make a strong enough case for HANA that it will pull in enough money to be a material contribution to topline.

Steve Lucas told us in a public forum at the influencer summit that we should mark his words that SAP will be number 2 database vendor in 2015 by revenue.  That is a pretty bold statement to make given the leadership Oracle, IBM and Microsoft has in that market.  Short of SAP saying their products will not work on anything else other than SAP’s own databases – I find it hard to believe SAP will become number 2 in database market. But Steve is an amazing leader – he is on target to sell 100M of HANA this year, which is no mean feat.  So he might pull it off. Seeing is believing, and I will be watching this space closely going forward.

Mobility has a good story too. SAP has not come out of the starting block quite as fast as they usually do for cloud. So they are in catchup mode for now. But with Success Factors acquisition, they should be able to catchup quickly and hopefully lead.

But the bulk of SAP’s warchest is filled from perpetual license revenue from on-premises software sale and maintenance. 22% maintenance is a gift that will keep giving for next several years. But what about new sales? I always thought this will have to die down. However, that is not what I am seeing at the moment. Several customers are still spending on big Business Suite, CRM and analytics  projects – mostly due to two factors. One – these companies had a spending freeze, and are now opening up their purses. And two – there is a lot of M&A and Divestitures happening due to macro economic factors, and these  need ERP spending.  So while it might not look like mid 1990s – I do not expect SAP to suffer really bad. And by the time Business Suite does slow down – Analytics, Cloud and Mobility should have become mainstream. It is SAP’s game to lose – and seeing the people in charge, I don’t think they will drop the ball.

There is a bit SAP can do too to help its own cause – which is in easing off the pressure on the marketing gas pedal a bit, and focus more on execution. If you look at the blogs and speeches that came out in 2011, you would think SAP is now making billions off HANA, not that 100M they were actually targeting 🙂 .

All said, the Merrill analyst is entitled to his opinion, just as SAP, Appleby and me are entitled to ours.  But any one analyst does not make or break a company’s performance in the market. What I am watching now is if any of the other big name analysts will post their advisory on SAP in line with the Merrill guy, or whether they will remain bullish.  I also wish these analysts substantiated their opinions with more research so that investors can make informed decisions.

SAP Influencer Summit – 2011, It’s all about the cloud


I almost missed the SAP Influencer Summit in Boston this year due to a last minute official trip across the oceans . But things worked out, and I managed to get back to Boston to attend the Influencer summit .  In fact the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Boston had quite a few SAP folks – employees and bloggers and analysts.

 

Not the best timing for the event

 

Monday night, a few of us had dinner with Jim Snabe, SAP’s Co-CEO. Since that conversation is under NDA, I will pass commenting on it.  Hopefully in a couple of months, we should be able to discuss everything in more detail. We also caught up with Sanjay Poonen over drinks on Monday night, and had an enjoyable conversation on what is shaking in the SAP world. Sanjay is a no-nonsense executive, and is a pleasure to work with in these events. Being in a quiet period, there was very little he could tell us that we did not already know. Which brings up an important point – why hold a summit in December, so close to the Madrid SAPPHIRE if there isn’t a whole lot of new information that can be shared? Would it make sense to consider spacing these events apart so that SAP as well as influencers get some more value out of these interactions? Maybe February is a better time to do this than December.

 

Nothing new on HANA

 

Honestly, I was afraid there will be an overdose of HANA in this event.  Thankfully, that did not happen.  Both in casual conversations and well as in Keynotes and other official discussions – SAP focused less on HANA and more on cloud offerings.  On HANA – there really is not a whole lot more to be talked about, since the talk is already a couple of generations ahead of action . So I am totally a happy camper at this situation – and by SAPPHIRE Orlando in 2012, I expect to see solid execution.

 

Mobility and the “small” developer

 

We had a chance to sit down with Raj Nathan on Mobility topics. About 90% of the discussion was about the role small – as in independent – developers can play in this space.  I don’t know Raj all that well, but I came away impressed. Some one else in his position – possibly including me – would have hit his head on the table, and then kicked us out of the room 🙂  Raj gave us a patient hearing.  SAP gets it – they do understand that somehow they need to empower large droves of developers to create stuff on SAP. There is no push back on that from any of the executives. However, there is also no indication on how/when this will be done.

 

SAP is a big company, and mother ships do not turn on a dime. It is a big shift in how they work, and consequently it will take some time. But it is also theirs to lose if they sit on their hands for too long. There are two talent pools to attract – the couple of million existing developers in the ecosystem who work for customers and partners, and the untold millions who develop for others like Apple, SFDC and so on. The former is easier since they are captive, but this is a group which has limited ideas in general on mobile applications.  And for the latter, the deal needs to be sweeter than developing for Apple to woo them away.  It is not going to be an easy task for SAP.

 

SAP has done the right thing for HANA – Anne Hardy’s team has managed to give free access for 90 days to developers. This has been well appreciated by the developer community. However, to close the loop – a longer term plan that addresses cost, IP, monetization etc needs to be addressed quickly. And not just for HANA – but for Sybase, Gateway and everything else.

 

Here are a couple of videos that JDOD guys shot – that addresses these issues.

 

 

 

Cloud

 

Right from the keynote and through out the 2 days, SAP was on  message that they are serious about cloud. And they were out in full force. Peter Lorenz and Greg Tomb led the charge on cloud, and I must say they did an excellent job, despite all the constraints they had to deal with due to not being able to talk about SuccessFactors acquisiton.

 

SAP is going after all sizes of companies with their cloud offerings – right from B1 on the cloud for the smaller shops, to ByD for cloud ERP for medium shops, to LOB apps for existing instal base of Business Suite.

 

There was a lot of apprehension after SuccessFactors news came out on whether ByD will die. All indications SAP gave in Boston seemed to indicate that it will not die. SAP said it has not decided on Career OD, but that is probably just hedging comments till the SuccessFactors deal closes.

 

I especially liked Greg Tomb’s position on how SAP will go to market for OD . He is hiring hundreds of dedicated sellers for OD. Their incentives will be on bookings (unlike perpetual revenue billings) for OD alone. This is excellent, and assures focus on OD, since existing sales force might not want to waste their time on OD if they can sell the bigger ticket items in their bag.

 

Snabe mentioned that SAP is on target to hit 1000 ByD customers by end of the year. While that is impressive compared to what they have done in past, it is no where near impressive compared to SFDC etc in terms of growth. So with the new sales force coming in – I am curious to see if we see big increases in the OD footprint for SAP.

 

Where do partners fit in for SAP’s OD strategy. I don’t exactly know since I left early. However there are two logical areas for them to fit in. One is to build add-on’s to ByD and LOB OD solutions. The other is to build back end integration to On premises systems. With the SDK coming up next year, this is an area to watch. I will post updates as I find out more.

 

SAP seems to be making rapid strides on infrastructure side too, building out their data centers. If I understood correctly – Apparently with the exception of China where they will have hosting partners, they want to host everything OD themselves. Maybe B1 hosting will be done with partners too – I cannot make out clearly from my notes. Hopefully someone can clarify.

 

Sethu M, SAP’s deputy CTO, offered to show me the new S&P OD solution. But we could not match schedules and hence I did not get to see it yet. I am not convinced yet on feasibility of S&OP on cloud, but I am extremely curious to find more details. As soon as possible, I will get this info from SAP.

 

As soon as I landed back home from Boston, I saw the news of SalesForce buying Rypple, and getting John Wookey to run it.  Here is a short rant on that. https://andvijaysays.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/sap-gets-successfactorsdalgaard-sfdc-gets-rypplewookey-game-on/

 

SAP gets SuccessFactors/Dalgaard, SFDC gets Rypple/Wookey – Game on!


Last few days have been a lot of fun in EnSW world in terms of acquisitions. Two that picked the most interest in my mind were SAP buying SuccessFactors and SalesForce buying Rypple.  It is not just the companies alone – it is the people who are going to run them that interest me more.

Lars Dalgaard founded SuccessFactors and is CEO there. He is now going to run SAP’s cloud offerings. From everything I have heard so far – he is a prize catch for SAP, and is probably a future CEO or Co-CEO candidate. But in the short term, I think the role he will play really well will be to go toe-to-toe with Marc Benioff and other cloud company CEOs. SAP needs one such player in their executive team to go play the offense side of the game. Defense is pretty well covered with the talent they have already.

Then we heard Marc Benioff got John Wookey to join him at SFDC. And today we heard he will be the head of SuccessForce, the new name for Rypple. What a master stroke – I tip my hat to Benioff. He learned the game at the knees of the best player and coach – Larry Ellison. And by all counts, he is as good as Larry now in upsetting competitors, and does not mind giving Larry himself a hard time. SFDC is a good partner of Workday, but that is not whom they bought. They insist there is no conflict with workday regarding this acquisition – but I am not buying this fully.

The beauty of this game is that Benioff did not pay anything hefty apparently for Rypple from what I read on internet articles and press releases. SAP paid a pretty good premium for SFSF. I am now trying to find out how much similarity exists in the solutions.  What caught my attention is that the hippest company on the planet now – Facebook – uses Rypple.

In terms of technology – I don’t see any one having an edge here. SFDC is not exactly spanking new technology, and neither is SAP. Both will have to integrate new stuff into existing code base somehow.  In terms of fun to use – Rypple has an edge on gamification, while SAP is still “working on it”.

What about talent – this is where I think hiring Wookey was Benioff’s master stroke. Wookey has a cult like following. I know many of his former employees who will lay down on tracks for him. Now the question in my mind is how many of them will quit their current jobs – some work in SAP too – and go join Wookey in his new team. If SAP has anything to worry – this potential for talent drain is the biggest in my opinion. Of course Lars Dalgaard will bring his own team into SAP, so this might not be a big deal after all. But a lot of ground SAP covered on Design Thinking etc might be lost if they lose key talent.  I hope SAP takes care of their top talent in OD appropriately.

Of course I expect SAP’s lawyers to go after SalesForce for renaming Rypple as SuccessForce, which sounds pretty similar to SuccessFactors. However, since SAP will probably not keep the SuccessFactors brand alive – I am not sure if they will do this. But it will be an effective way to delay the transaction from closing.  Benioff knows the mileage ORCL got on PR when they went after SAP in courts. So even if he loses the battle on the name itself, he might get enough to consider himself successful in the PR war.

I am pretty curious on what will happen to Workday now.  They will for sure have a fantastic IPO, since SAP and SFDC have ensured great valuation by their actions. But will some one remaining in the market scoop Workday up on an exceptional premium?  I expected SFDC to buy them, but that is not how it played out. Lets see how that plays out. Either way – Workday founders will retire rich.

Big enterprise cloud players now need a good middleware company to strengthen their portfolio. There has been plenty of speculation of SAP buying TIBCO. But instead, they announced a partnership. Fair enough – but I think they are a prime acquisition target now .  It could be the differentiator between Market leader and the rest. But I could be totally wrong here given TIBCO has stayed neutral, despite growing to Billion dollar size.

Q1 of 2012 will surely be a lot of fun – but who knows, we might see even more exciting news before 2011 says good bye.

Leaving on a Jet Plane, thinking they could have done it better


I am in Trivandrum Airport(Capital of Kerala,the southern most state in India – and also my hometown) now, at the domestic terminal waiting for the flight to Bangalore . There is no internet access here, so by the time I post this, I will probably  be in Bangalore, Frankfurt or even Boston.

I am on my way to Boston, MA to attend the SAP influencer summit, and this is the shortest of the 3 flights I have to endure to reach Boston. This airport now has a new international terminal, so they shifted the domestic flights to the old international terminal. Needless to say, the whole place has a big facelift now compared to any other time in the past that I can remember.

The security here is impeccable – they do a rather intrusive (by US standards) pat down before they let you in. And they seem to physically check about 50% of all carry on bags. In my childhood, they still used to do this to some extent – but used to let politicians, big company executives and the like go through without any hassle. Now they appear  very strict – and if you refuse the pat down, you can just leave the airport. No middle ground here !

The lady at the Jet Airways counter that checked me in told me – “you have 2 options to check in your bag. 1. I check it to Bangalore, and you take it physically to Lufthansa and check it again. Or 2. I check it all the way to Boston, but there is no guarantee it will reach there”. Hmmm…hard choices indeed. Seriously ? Is that even a choice to give a passenger? I appreciate the advice, and will keep it for future reference…may be 🙂

Air travel in India has been totally below par for me, and I am just very frustrated at the moment with how this Industry does its customer facing work.

Let me take it from the top – from the moment I landed in India few days ago, in Bangalore airport. The immigration guy asked me where is the immigration entry stamp in my passport for the last time I was in India. I said I know the approximate date, but no idea where the actual stamp itself is on the passport. He asked me to search and show him, before he lets me enter the country. I found it eventually amongst a million other stamps, and he solidly wasted 20 minutes of my life that I will never get again. On the plus side, I think I just found out a better game than sudoku for frequent fliers – it is called spot the random stamp.

I picked up my bag and tried to go over next door to the domestic terminal to catch a flight to Kolkatta, which was about 4 hours later. Well – no dice. The security dude won’t let me past the transfer area to the Air India counter for another 2 hours. He wouldn’t give me any reason – more like “because I said so”. So I hung around there, without even access to a decent bathroom. The one I had access to – well, let me just say I can’t describe it to you without both of us throwing up.

So two hours later, I go to Air India counter. There are 5 counters, and about 25 Air India staff there. As soon as they saw me – they said “Pls wait for 5 minutes – we won’t start till 4AM”. I waited, and then it just erupted in to chaos. They could not handle a queue – and all the passengers started jockeying for position and so on. Few minutes later, 22 out of 25 people manning the counters went over to help the lady in one counter who could not get her system to work. You can imagine the speed at the other 4 counters at that stage. It was a good thing I had 4 hours to check in.

Onward to the gate now and I will skip the minor inconveniences till I got into the flight. Well – maybe except the fact that it took about 10 people in uniform to board one flight (any wonder these airlines cannot keep their cost structures under control?). This was the first Air India flight I had taken in maybe 10 years or so. And it was as pathetic as the last time. Most of the seats had duct tape holding pieces together. The 3 flight attendants had absolute boredom writ large on their faces. Just looking at them made me yawn. They did serve a hot breakfast (of sorts) in the flight. After 2 hours of fog delay, we took off. The silver lining was the skill of pilots – amazing take off, cruise and landing despite the weather.

My bag was the first to come off the belt, thanks to the priority tag. And it had a big broken piece of what used to be a handle hanging from it. Par for course so fa, eh?.

The flight out from Kolkata – despite me being mentally prepared -was just as bad. It was Jet Airways this time, the modern airline – unlike Air India. I had higher expectations. I soon found out that Kolkatta air must be heavier by 3 KG than Phoenix Air, because they charged me for excess baggage despite me not adding any thing to my suitcase.

We took off on time, and arrived on time. Of course it took – again – 10 people to board passengers into this one flight. For a flight leaving at 6 AM and flying 2.5 hours to Bangalore, I expected it to have breakfast – either complimentary or for purchase. No luck again – and I just drank glass after glass of water till I landed. The flight attendants were all nice, but the pilot needs to go back to a simulator to learn how to land a plane without making passengers feel that their kidney and brain swapped places in 2 seconds.

I have been reading in the papers that the Airline industry in India is in some serious trouble, and that government is trying to help airlines become profitable. I know India generally has a socialist outlook historically about these things –  so I am not holding my breath on anything good happening to change this. But if there is ever a moment to let Darwin get his due, now would be it. Let the crappy airlines all die, and let more competitive, customer friendly ones take their place. Millions of passengers will be eternally grateful.

Believe it or not – I am now EAGERLY looking forward to flying US Airways flight from BOS to PHX on Wednesday. Now that is saying a LOT, as many Dividend miles elite members will agree.

SAP buys SuccessFactors – a few random thoughts


I heard the news of SAP buying SuccessFactors while in the cab to PHX airport for a last minute business trip to India. And I am typing this from the plane – the first of four that will take me to Kolkata. On my way back from India, I will get to attend the SAP influencer summit in Boston, MA. And I think I will have to throw away all the questions I had for SAP so far, and ask some on its focus on cloud. Too bad that GoGo internet is not working for me in this flight, else I wanted to contact a few people I trust to get some additional input. I guess I will post this from Denver airport before the next flight takes off.

HCM has historically not been a core focus area for me, and is probably the only part of the core Business Suite modules I have not played with hands-on. But over the last couple of years, HCM has been constantly getting on my radar, and I even put it in my top trends in SAP consulting opportunities for 2012 in my SCN blog.

The first thought that ran through my mind when I heard the news was “The founders of Workday must be partying hard”. I think SAP buying Workday sets them up nicely for bigger valuation. I know the company keeps saying they are not for sale – but then what else do you expect them to say? . Either they will have an extremely good IPO, or they will get acquired at a high premium by another company. May be SFDC will buy them? or Oracle?

SAP’s leadership team has a big job to do now – decide quickly how to integrate this new acquisition into existing architecture, and how to rationalize the portfolio. There are two major considerations in my mind – there is the platform play compared to ByDesign, and there is the solution play compared to CareerOnDemand, Business Suite etc. And of course, I assume Vishal Sikka will want to make this work on HANA, BI 4.0 and SUP too, with probably SUP being the more important one for now. I don’t think ByD or CareerOD will survive due to overlap.

Actually, I think the bigger worry for SAP is ironically their own talent management for cloud. They could not keep Wookey. All that talk about him moving out for family reasons don’t ring true anymore once he joined SFDC. So what about Lars who will come in now – will he stick around long enough? And even more important – what about the excellent team in place now for OD in SAP? Will they stick around long term and re-engineer everything new to whatever is the new platform? Will SuccessFactors team integrate well with legacy SAP? More than anything else – that is what would probably dictate success and failure for SAP in cloud.

Communication to customers and partners is key. This is where I think SAP needs the most focus in short term. They need to figure out their roadmap at the earliest, and start talking to customers and others in the ecosystem. After the experience with BOBJ and Sybase, I think SAP would know how to do this effectively. I did like one thing – I saw plenty of tweets from existing cloud team at SAP saying they are thrilled. I am looking forward to talking to them soon to get some details.

What about customers? I am going to India now for some customer meetings. I do intend to ask them what they feel about SAP’s cloud strategy now. In my opinion, customers of SFSF should expect SAP reps opening up many opportunities to buy more solutions. I am not equally sure of the converse. Existing SAP customers I guess will be in a “wait and watch” mode. SFSF reps might offer better deals now to close out – but I am in two minds on whether this is good or bad to jump into. And the reason is – I don’t know what SAP will do in terms of rationalization. Once we know the roadmap more clearly, I do expect SAP to have big time cross selling opportunities, and customers to have many solutions from one shop.

Bundled sales is the name of the game for SAP to get to the 20B plan for 2015. So far, Bill McDermott has been extremely bullish on pipeline for HANA, mobility and now also on SFSF. If that holds – I expect him to up his plans to something more than 20B, and even declare a bigger EPS plan for 2015. 2012 will be a very interesting year in SAP land. Can’t wait to see what else will happen. Parting thought – will there be few more M&A deals in 2011 in Enterprise Software? I guess there will be.