Posts Tagged ‘Enterprise 2.0’

Research Summary: Demystifying Social Business – Optimizing the Lead to Deal Process (Sales)

Forward And Commentary

Constellation Research pioneered the complete set of front office and back office use cases for social business in 2010. This report provides insight into a key mega-area — lead to deal use cases. This best practices research report offers insight into two of Constellation’s primary research themes, the Next-Generation Customer Experience and the Consumerization of Information Technology/The New C-Suite.

A. Introduction

Social business initiatives have gained acceptance as a key driver in business innovation. Since 2010, organizations have experimented and successfully deployed social business initiatives across a variety of business processes. In Constellation’s recent 2013 survey of 237 social business adopters, more than a majority (57.8 percent) of the market leaders and fast follower respondents had moved from experimentation to scaling social business initiatives to match demand. This trend signifies the successful growth of social business across a number of use cases.

With over 50 use cases identified in the survey, organizations now have defined entry points to begin social business initiatives. Consequently, many businesses can learn from the experience of market leaders and fast followers. Constellation has curated eight mega-use cases for social business that cover key business processes such as:

  • Campaign to lead
  • Lead to deal
  • Incident to resolution
  • Kick off to delivery
  • Concept to production
  • Sourcing to acceptance
  • Hire to retire
  • Invoice to payment

This report focuses on the lead to deal mega-use case, which includes both traditional business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) situations such as territory management, collaborative selling, partner selling, crowdsourced intelligence, matrix commerce, save the deal and steal the deal. These use cases should provide a starting point for mapping out the sales journey.

B. Research Findings – As Adoption Progresses, Seven Major Use Cases Emerge for Sales Processes
The recent 2013 survey of 237 global social business adopters shows 57.8 percent of the market leaders and fast follower respondents scaling social business initiatives to match demand (see Figure 1). This shift from choosing the right go-forward platform in 2012 highlights a move from Level 3 (Evangelization) to Level 4 (Pervasiveness).  This first wave of people has started to see the benefits of social business initiatives and intends to scale them out throughout their organizations and value networks.  They have succeeded by finding executive sponsors, measuring metrics that matter and aligning with business processes.

Figure 1. Social Business Adoption Moves From Platform Consolidation to Scale

(right click to view image)

Seven Key Use Cases Emerge in Lead to Deal

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Event Report: Dreamforce X (#DF12) Emerges As The South By Southwest (#SXSW) For The Enterprise

Dreamforce Represents The Mecca For The “Art Of The Possible” In The Enterprise

Whether Salesforce.com’s flagship conference at Moscone Center was the most attended conference (~48,000) or the most registered for event (~90,000), matters not.  When examined in context of the magnitude of what was accomplished, the impact of this 10th annual event transcends attendance numbers.  Business folks and the converted IT brethren converged on the week of  September 18th, 2012, to see what the future could be inside the enterprise.  They left with inspiration and the gospel of what was possible, as told by those before them.  The event represented the intersection of where aspiration meets innovation for the enterprise.

Key takeaways from interviews with over 100 attendees reflect the following trends:

  • Attendee sentiment signals the return of the front office.  Prior to the coining of the CRM term, front office was the term which defined marketing, service, eCommerce, and sales force automation.  The move back to integrated customer experiences reflects a renewed interest in all the front office touch points and all the support in the back office required to support the customer experience.  Attendees walked in with questions about how to integrate their legacy ERP and expose their transactional systems into the front office.
  • Customers seek knowledge and case studies on business transformation. Delegations arrived to see how they could change their business.  Most came with both business and IT to learn from the best practices of others.  Almost every customer case study session was packed and common questions revolved around, “How did you do that?”
  • Product announcements and pre-announcements bring the enterprise closer to the consumer experience. Pre-announcement of Salesforce Identity for Winter 2013 will provide users with Facebook-like single sign on and identity management services.  The availability of the Touch Platform services will provide a write once, deploy anywhere touch based mobile UI Experience.  The pre-announcement of the Force.com Canvas provides a UI layer to run any other application within the Salesforce.com environment.  The App Exchange Checkout delivers out of the box billing for developers and improves the users app store experience.  Geolocation capabilities in the pilot of database.com in the Winter 2013 release will improve mobile experiences.  Chatter communities pilot in Fall of 2012 and pre-announcement addresses the issue of multiple group management.
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Market Maker 1:1: #HRTechConf Preview w/ Bill Kutik

15 Years of HR Technology At The Industry’s Premier Event

The fifteenth annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition returns to McCormick Place in Chicago October 8th to 10th, 2012.  HR Tech is the industry’s longest running event looking at technologies that influence the Future of Work.

The Inside View With Bill Kutik – Future of Work Pioneer And Co-Chairman of HR Tech

Since 1990, Bill Kutik has been a Technology Columnist for Human Resource Executive® (and for HREOnline™ since 2006,), also serving as co-chairman of the magazine’s famous annual conference, HR Technology® Conference & Exhibition, since it began in 1998. In 2008, he started The Bill Kutik Radio Show®, a bi-weekly online talk show with industry leaders.

HR World named him one of “The Top 25 HR Influencers of 2007.” More recently, he was named a “Top 25 HR Digital Influencer 2009″ and a “Top 100 Influencer.”

For 20 years, he was consulting editor for Esther Dyson’s leading computer industry newsletter, Release 1.0. Previously he was the founding editor of the monthly magazine, Computers in HR Management; managing editor of Ziff-Davis’ Computer Industry Daily; and a reporter for The New York Times and The New York Daily News. He has also published articles in Newsweek, Washington Post, Institutional Investor, New York Magazine, Business Month, IHRIM Journal, Cruising World and Backpacker (where he was the founding editor).

We sat down with industry pioneer Bill Kutik for a preview of this year’s event:

1. Where do you see the new trends in HR tech going? What’s changed since last year? (Have we moved beyond Cloud, is everything social?)

Bill Kutik (BK): This year marks an inflection point in HR technology – perhaps in all of IT – the end of one era and the beginning of another, a generational shift in computing.

It happens every 10 – 15 years and remarkably HR has often been at the leading edge of change, either because corporations thought it didn’t matter if IT experiments failed there or because it’s the only department that touches every employee in the company.

Remember, PeopleSoft released the first packaged client/server application (for HR but the first for any function) in 1989, which started the death of the mainframe. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s claims aside, HR has been using hosted applications (perhaps not anyone’s version of true SaaS) for recruiting since 1998 and major web-based applications since 2000.

Now the combination of SaaS (Cloud Computing) plus Social in the Enterprise – companies using private collaborative software to get real work done – are marking a new era in computing.

These will be among the major topics this year at the HR Technology® Conference in Chicago, October 8-10.

2. Why the continued interest and investment by organizations in HR and related technologies?

BK: The main reason is the 50-year-long lie in large type in corporate annual reports is finally seen as true: “People are our most important asset.” People costs, even in manufacturing firms with huge capital investments, are more than 50 percent of the annual run-rate. Obviously closer to 90 percent in knowledge-based firms like consulting, law, accounting and software.

To succeed in 2012, organizations must have an effective people strategy aligned with their goals. They must identify the best players, assign them to the right work and keep them engaged. Technology doesn’t create this strategy – executives do – but they can’t properly execute their strategy without the right technology to enable it.

HR technology isn’t for HR anymore. The latest applications reaching mass adoption – such as the Talent Management suite – are now used almost exclusively by line managers and employees after HR has purchased the software and configured it properly.

3. Are 2012 HR technology budgets increasing compared to prior years?

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Tuesday’s Tip: Why Context Matters – Forget Real-Time, Achieve Right-Time

The Real-Time Hype Is Filled With Flaws

The hype around big data, social media, and mobility has many folks imagining the real-time enterprise in the future of work, next generation customer experiences, matrix commerce, or the data to decisions journey.  While real-time theoretically leads to quicker information and faster response times, the reality requires closer examination for three reasons:

  1. Customers and employees only want engagement aligned with self interest.  Relevancy of information is required for customers and employees to respond.  Real-time interactions quickly evolve into noise.  Signal to noise ratios must be improved as garbage in will lead to massive garbage out.  In some cases, customers don’t want engagement. They just want the experience.
  2. No human can truly handle the volume and flow of real-time interactions. The proliferation of channels and data sources creates a data deluge.  Filtering is required in order to handle real-time.  Workers already inundated with email, sms, and chats, really just want to get work done, they don’t want to be bogged down with more interactions.
  3. Real time is not fast enough. Real-time is reactive not proactive.  Anticipation and prediction emerge as key requirements.  Reaction does not lead to a better customer experience or employee interaction.  Some customers want options to make the right decision.  The same customers may expect a system to remember a preference based on many factors including repetitive behavior.

Delivering Context Is The Secret To Right Time Success

Context provides the key ingredient in improving outcomes. Why? Context provides the relevancy required for not only anticipation, but also prediction.  For example, offering a premium channel upsell to an upset cable customer when their cable is down, may not be the wisest idea.  Unfortunately, this happens too often.  The customer is already upset that the issues have not been resolved and yet the company is still trying to sell instead of resolve an issue.  However, offering a free appetizer triggered by a location based service during the morning commute, may lead to higher sales as this is a right time anticipation of a dinner time offer .

The Bottom Line: Start With Seven Dimensions of Context Drivers.

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Tuesday’s Tip: Dealing With The Real Problem In Social Business Adoption – The People!

Social Business Adoption Dependent On Employee Adoption

Social business is more than a technology decision.  Many eager early adopters face challenges in adoption past the initial core team.  As we move from eager early adopters to ubiquitous usage, an examination of some organizations who have failed at internal social business reveals five common barriers to adoption:

  1. Poorly defined incentives. In the rush to convince everyone to work with each other, most organizations fail to design meaningful incentives for adoption.  The reality – most folks collaborate only when they need to, not when they are told to.
  2. Increase in actual effort. For many in the workforce, collaboration often means more work, not less work.  Connectedness results in more interactions, some less meaningful than others.  Increase in effort often shifts the status quo resulting in internal resistance.
  3. Lack of choice in user experience. Time and time, people want to use the tool they are most comfortable with.  For example, activity streams make sense for some folks who are used to high frequency, always on, information flows.  However, those accustomed to using email as a task list and structured approach to filing information will find discomfort with activity streams.
  4. Indifference to change. Inertia to do nothing often outweighs the calls for change.  The workforce often prefers to do things the way they always have been.  The workforce has seen many changes and at this point face change fatigue.
  5. Failure to communicate the urgency.  Business model shifts are not easy to communicate to the workforce.  Veteran employees often develop coping mechanisms that define the new change as a reincarnation of the old change without understanding the nuance or urgency.

Overcoming Barriers Of Adoption Require A Mix of New and Classical Change Management Techniques

Despite compelling benefits to achieve better collaboration among teams, improved engagement among the workforce, and faster speed of internal communication, adoption efforts require careful design.  As with any organizational change, it’s the people, stupid!  The five barriers can be countered with the following five strategies (see Figure 1.): More…

Event Report: Lithium Network Conference 2012 #LiNC

Lithium Technologies Shows Continued Customer Momentum And Success In Social Marketing And Support
To the tune of over 500 customers and prospects, Lithium kicked off LiNC on May 2nd, 2012, at the always stunning Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco.  Compared to previous years, the audience was not only bigger, but also more experienced and energized.  Rob Tarkoff (CEO) and Lyle Fong (Founder & Chief Strategist) kicked off the event with company updates, product road map highlights, and customer progress made over the past year.
Adding to the energy, four compelling case studies graced the morning and highlighted Lithium’s strengths in two distinct and advanced externally focused social CRM (SCRM) use cases: social customer support and marketing.  The wide range of proud customers and brands included Chris Blandy, SVP of Digital Media, Fox; Mark Nichols, Director of Customer Support, Skype; Andrew Leary, EVP & GM, Ipsos; and Steve Young, Sr. Director of Technical Services, Cisco.  During the event, several key announcements were made including:
  • Launch of a new product, Lithium Response. In a top secret OEM partnership, the team unveiled Lithium Response™ a product that enables brands to increase customer satisfaction while reducing costs and improving efficiency in the call center.  Key features include easier processes to turn community conversations from unstructured information to entries into the Lithium Tribal Knowledge Base (TKB), peer-to-peer support and gamification incentives to drive self-service customer resolution, cost effective social-web support, blended contact center capabilities, and mobile enablement.  The product is generally available (GA) in Q3.

    Point of View (POV):
    The OEM’d product comes from a little-known but powerful solution from a privately held, purpose-built social customer care platform.  The product maximizes agent efficiency via categorization, prioritization and queuing, and routing.  The system is smart enough to guide customers to self service by replying with relevant links to community content.  This platform has been battled test with complicated communication service provider (CSP) environments.  Adapted for the Lithium platform, customer can expect a rigorous enterprise class solution that lives up to Lithium’s standards.  Lithium Response™ also takes advantage of Lithium’s access to the Twitter fire hose.  The movement to address multi-channel customer support puts Lithium in unique league with vendors such as Genesys Labs, Kana, and Moxie Software, who can blend contact center and social support.
  • Delivers new release of social marketing. Building on customer feedback, the new Lithium Social Marketing Solution™ focuses on improving engagement.   New features include support for rich media interactions, ad hoc groups, streaming conversations, and a new ratings and reviews module.  A partnership with Shoutlet provides Facebook and Twitter campaign management.  Social engagement is updated to include photo sharing, inline-conversations, groups spaces, and adoption of commons social logins.  The new ratings and reviews module allows community driven content to be included via widgets.  New development tools on iOS improve customer experience in the mobile interface of choice.  The product is now generally available (GA).

    Point of View (POV):
    Customers showed significant interest in the new social marketing solution features.  The ability to improve ratings and reviews is much needed as this has become table steaks in communities and product catalogs.  What’s impressive is the new line of partnerships that align with Lithium’s core strategy.  Instead of building their own content publishing platform for campaigns, Lithium takes advantage of Shoutlet ability to place various types of content easily into the conversation. Partnerships with VMWare’s Socialcast unit allows Lithium’s Social Marketing Solution™ to integrate with internally focused collaboration tools to expedite the concept to product introduction process.
  • Begins concerted global expansion. Lithium announced new APAC headquarters in Singapore which add to its Sydney APAC presence.  Lithium also has a strong presence in EMEA with operations in Paris, Zurich, and London.

    Point of View (POV):
    As the market consolidates through attrition and acquisition, Lithium’s push to get more feet on the ground around the globe is much welcomed by customers.  Lithium needs to expand fast and put its $53M in funding to work to acquire long-term customers in expansion markets.
  • Ups the ante in partnerships and alliances. New partnerships with Ipsos and Geoffrey Moore provide access to market research.  Agency relationships include Sapient Nitro and Acquity group.  Lithium adds software partners such as Shoutlet and VM Ware.  Lithium’s approach is to find a small number but committed set of alliances and partnerships.

    Point of View (POV):
    Lithium’s partnership and alliance program traditionally was the weakest among the major SCRM players.  The addition of Ed Van Siclen, SVP of Global Alliances and BD, brings enterprise class partnerships to the Lithium’s arsenal.  As SCRM matures, key partnerships with major system integrators must be prioritized as well as carefully crafted agency relationships.  Software partnerships back to transactional systems such as ERP, CRM, and master data management will be key to long term success and enterprise adoption.  More importantly, continued alliances with other engagement applications will keep the innovation engine alive for existing customers as they focus on improving engagement.

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Monday’s Musings: Why Are Innovative CIO’s Betting Less On Cloud And Virtualization?

Innovative CIO’s Betting On Disruptive Technologies That Impact Enterprise Business Value

In the Four Personas of the Next Gen CIO published March 3, 2012, four personas of the CIO were identified: Chief Infrastructure Officer, Chief Integration Officer, Chief Intelligence Officer, and Chief Innovation Officer (see Figure 1).  This research of 79 progressive CIO’s identified the key projects for each of the personas.  As part of the survey, respondents were asked what key disruptive technologies would make an impact in the enterprise in the next year.

Figure 1. The Four Personas Of The Next Generation CIO

Source: Constellation Research, Inc.

In Constellation’s latest update (to be published May 2012), 105 innovative CIOs participated in the survey.  The results indicate a shift away from cloud  (56.4%-2012) and virtualization (29.6% – 2012) to mobile (60.2%-2012) and big data and analytics (48.7%-2012) (see Figure 2).  Despite being the top projects in 2011, the drop in priority of virtualization (51.9%-2011) and cloud (69.6%-2011) doesn’t reflect the lack of interest.  In fact, these projects have matured and innovative CIOs have now prioritized the next wave of innovation.

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Quark Summary: Does SAP HANA Change Your Database Strategy for SAP Apps?

Forward And Commentary

SAP’s made big claims about HANA and its capabilities today and into the future.  This Quark goes into the details and Constellation’s point of view.

A. Executive Summary

Both HANA as an architecture and database alternative indicate SAP’s future direction and next-generation approach. Consequently, numerous clients and SAP customers have inquired on whether or not they can replace their underlying Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) in their SAP Business Suite with HANA. Constellation believes SAP HANA is a critical technology that SAP customers should evaluate and understand as the roadmap reveals itself. This report primarily describes the role HANA will play for use with SAP Business Suite and in future SAP applications.

B. Research Findings

Since 2008, SAP has hinted at a real-time data platform approach to its middleware and application infrastructure based on the power of in-memory database (IMDB) technologies. IMDBs are a database management system that stores data directly onto the main memory of a computer. In an IMDB, the memory resident data has one minimum backup copy on disk, but the primary copy lives permanently in memory. Traditional on-disk databases cache data into main memory for access but the primary copy permanently lives in storage.

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Research Summary: Best Practices – Three Simple Software Maintenance Strategies That Can Save You Millions

Forward And Commentary

Software ownership costs continue to escalate as vendors accelerate their efforts to capture support and maintenance revenues. Some vendors have gone to the extreme to eliminate third-party options for their customers. This best practices report examines three strategies to free up unnecessary costs to fund innovation and new projects.

A. Introduction

On average, IT budgets are down from 1-5 percent year-over-year, yet software support and maintenance costs continue to escalate ahead of inflation. Hence, continued pressure on IT budgets and a growing need for innovation projects have top business and technology leaders reexamining their software support and maintenance contracts for cost efficiencies.

Based on experience from over 1500 software contract negotiations, Constellation suggests three approaches to reduce the cost of software support and maintenance. Key strategies include third-party maintenance, shelfware reductions and unbundling maintenance contracts as part of every organization’s tech optimization strategy. Successful implementation can lead to savings from 10-25 percent of the IT budget, freeing up cash to fund innovation initiatives.

B. Research FindingsWhy Every Organization Should Consider Third-Party Maintenance, Shelfware Reductions and Unbundling Maintenance Contracts

Most organizations suffocate from the high and hidden cost of support and maintenance. On average, Constellation’s surveys reveal global IT budgets trending down from 1-5 percent year-over-year since 2008. Consumerization of IT, rapidly changing business models, and aging infrastructure have exposed the high cost of software support and maintenance. Because most organizations allocate from 60-85 percent of their budget to keeping the lights on, very little of the budget is left to spend on new projects (see Figure 1).

Organizations can unlock millions by considering third-party maintenance (3PM), reducing shelfware, and keeping support and maintenance contracts unbundled. Each strategy on its own creates opportunities to drive cost savings. All three strategies combined, provide a roadmap for funding innovation.

  1. Third-party maintenance (3PM) delivers the most immediate cost savings and opportunity for innovation. Third-party maintenance describes support and maintenance offerings delivered by non-OEM providers. These vendors can provide a range of options from basic break/fix to bug fixes, performance optimization, tax and regulatory updates, and customization support. Keep in mind, 3PM does not provide access to upgrades and future versions of the OEM’s product. One big driver is the lower cost of delivery, as much as half the cost of the original vendor’s pricing.  The report shows a survey of 268 respondents and why organizations choose 3PM and who the key vendors are.
  2. Reduction of shelfware remains a key pillar in legacy optimization strategies.  Shelfware (i.e. purchased software, not deployed, but incurring annual maintenance fees) is one of the biggest drains on operational expenses for enterprises. The simple definition of shelfware is software you buy and don’t use. For example, an organization that buys 1000 licenses of Vendor X’s latest ERP software and uses 905 licenses, becomes the proud owner of 95 licenses not being utilized. That’s 95 licenses of shelfware because the user will pay support and maintenance on the license whether or not they use the software or not.  The report details 4 successful and proven approaches.
  3. Unbundling maintenance contracts prevents future vendor mischief. About a decade back, vendors would offer support and maintenance as two separate line items on their contracts. Support would run about 5-10 percent of the license fee and so would maintenance. Keep in mind, average support and maintenance fees were under 15 percent back then. Unfortunately, many users have expressed a growing and concerning trend with support and maintenance contracts. Vendors concerns about support and maintenance contract retentions have led to new initiatives to consolidate contracts. At first glance, this may appear to be proactive and beneficial to customers, but the report details three rationales vendors provide and three strategies how to avoid bundling.

Figure 1. Visualizing the High Costs of Support And Maintenance

(Right-click to see full image)

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – Randy Guard, SAS Institute

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

Randy Guard – Vice President of Sales Development and Product Management, SAS Institute

Biography

As Vice President of Sales Development and Product Management, Randy Guard leads the product strategy and business development efforts across SAS. Randy and his Product Management teams work closely with SAS’ Research and Development organization to define and manage product road maps based on market needs and customer input. Randy’s Global Practice teams drive revenue growth by delivering market-driven offerings and supporting strategic customer engagements. These teams of product and industry domain experts help customers and partners apply SAS software to solve their critical business problems.

Before joining SAS in 2000, Randy served as Manager of e-Business Solutions for BuildNet, a provider of builder management solutions to the residential and commercial building industry. He also served as Regional Director for Spectrum Technology Group, specializing in building e-business and data warehousing solutions. Randy began his career with Andersen Consulting (Accenture), where he led systems development and implementation efforts for clients across financial services, retail and consumer packaged goods, utilities and public sector industries.

Randy holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Duke University.

The Interview

1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers.

Randy Guard (RG): From our standpoint, social computing and social media present a completely new set of interactions. These interactions range from direct to indirect and include customers, prospects, and even competitors. Social computing is more than just a set of new data or just another channel. Our early customers and prospects are truly dealing with an exposure dilemma and figuring out how to best engage in this new social world, and integrate social computing in many aspects of their business.

Valued customers/prospects are talking online about the companies and products they like or dislike. In many cases, the company is not present in the dialog and definitely not leading the conversation. Consequently, a brand’s reputation is out there in the open and vulnerable. Everything that they have spent years and years building now has a different level of exposure. More importantly, a company has less control over the brand reputation now. They have to develop a good listening habit and build an environment where they can influence and support. Companies need to be able to answer new questions like … How do they understand what’s going on in the social world? Whats’ the volume of activity? And who are the influencers? At SAS there is heavy emphasis on the analytics component to understanding social media – more than just volume, we like to understand influence and the dynamics of the social network itself.

So, organizations now have to figure out how to more effectively engage their customers immediately given the accelerated maturity cycle that exists in a social computing world. Engagement must account for a diverse set of sources such as social media blogs, forums , and company hosted environments … and all of this across the broad spectrum of computing devices.

The social view is not 2 to 3 or 4 years out. These fundamental shifts are underway now. Organizations can expect very rapid change amidst a new set of interactions and increased level of exposure. As we talk to customers about social computing and social media analysis they can all rapidly comprehend the impact, and the value of being present and engaged in this new set of interactions.

2. What makes social computing disruptive?

(RG): Ray, as you know, the content in social is all about you or your product or service, and it is not owned by the company. It truly comes from the marketplace. Everyone wants feedback, and in some cases companies can’t deal with the deluge. Two things drive the disruptive nature. One is the speed in which you get feedback. This is achieved when people talk about your product or service, and quickly build momentum (both positive and negative). The other dimension is the pervasiveness of the information and how it travels through the network. Pre-social computing, you might have a bad experience at a retail store. You might have told your friends and family. Now that same feedback and negative experience not only can be commented on to thousands, but it can also be shared in audio and video. Suddenly, a whole new form of influence emerges and propagates very quickly. Now, an individual store issue with a single customer can quickly evolve into a corporate or a brand issue. Again, it works on the positive side too. The potential customer can see how an average person is passionate about a company’s product, and that can make a huge impact in sales. Customer testimonials are often more genuine and impactful than those from a corporate spokesperson or ad.

3. What is the next big thing in Social Business software?

(RG): Integrating social content with enterprise data is critical to go to the next level. Right now many of the initial gains are isolated successes to “listening” and some are focused 2-way engagement. We’ll continue to evolve with integrated social content and analysis that ties back to even more enterprise systems. Our first level of this integration has already driven value to our customers plus added new features to coming releases. Listening in the social world is obviously important, but then you need the right engagement plan to address the situation. For example, we have seen issues in a company’s supply chain (e.g. an increase in backorders) drive a rapid spike in negative sentiment in the social world. The product was positive in the eyes of the customer, but the availability issue was getting massive negative attention. They quickly needed to put out a message to the customers plus added some promotions on shipping, and alternative products, etc. They also needed to fix the backorder issue asap.

4. What are you doing that’s disruptive for Social Computing?

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Cloud Computing – Adam Rogers, Ultimate Software

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Cloud Computing.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

Adam Rogers – Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ultimate Software


1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Cloud Computing is changing the world for your customers

Adam Rogers (AR): Ray, let’s call it like it is. Cloud isn’t really disruptive – it’s already  disrupted – and we’ve made that transition over the past 10 years.  The new frontier for enterprise software is building systems that conform and cater to the user and how they want to work.  Let’s use Amazon as an analogy. A core difference between Amazon and the dozens of other e-commerce sites that competed for mind share in the 2000′s is that they realized early on that doing great work on behalf of the PERSON was more important than the URL or the consumer product segment.

Our customers benefit from cloud computing by taking advantage of business solutions for managing their people, instead of dealing with the cost and expense of IT. Second, because we handle all upgrades, they gain access to the latest functionality and don’t get trapped in a legacy on-premise solution that is outdated. There’s no barrier to upgrading. However, you’ve heard this all before. Honestly, these are really table stakes in business software today.

What Cloud is transforming for our customers is their ability to tailor the solution to their specific needs. For example, Google wanted us to handle the administration of payroll and the system-of-record, but they wanted to maintain the user experience of their internally developed GHR system. By connecting Ultimate to GHR through the Cloud, they can deliver a familiar user experience for their people while taking advantage of our backbone.

Importantly, small businesses gain access to enterprise systems at an affordable price point because:

1. If done right, it allows smaller businesses access (via affordability) to what used to be very expensive enterprise applications.

⁃ up front through the economies of scale well-architected systems create, enterprise class software can be sold at much less expensive price points than previously.

⁃ ongoing costs are contained.. and running in world-class data centers that only fortune 1000 companies could previously afford.

2. It brings the benefits of consumer software (constantly improved, modern user interfaces and simple) to enterprise customers who demand secure, stable and reliable applications.

We moved to cloud computing and SaaS 10 years ago because we felt it was good for our customers but in the end it also opened up the market to smaller customers with much smaller IT budgets. This is obviously great for our business model but very rewarding to know we can offer a world-class solution to what used to be out of reach to many companies.

2. What makes cloud computing disruptive?

(AR): Disruption typically has two major components. The first is cost and the second is making products available to a new class of customers.

Cloud computing has not only reduced the cost of business software, it has also made sophisticated systems available to organizations that previously wouldn’t have been able to afford to purchase and maintain those products. I think that’s a fairly obvious outcome at this point as discussed already.

What is less obvious, but more important in the long term, is that Cloud computing means we can — for the first time, really — combine applications that are tailored to the person and the device (an iPad, for example) with a robust administrative system on the back end. Those applications can be really small, and highly tailored, while still connecting to the core. That means users don’t have to deal with a lot of complexity, they can just focus on the work at hand — while still participating in the company’s core system.

This is disruptive because as the end of the day, this is great for consumers and customers but to execute, it really flips all accepted thinking on it’s side.

- Now we have to update our software early and often – the consumers demand this kind of cadence to realize the value. Consumers are using consumer applications and consumer devices and demanding that same elegant experience from their Ent Apps. GenX/Y’s are taking over the executive offices and making decisions on business software.

- Think about what it takes to do that… it’s an agile/iterative development process with continuous integration and deployment. That’s a simple sentence that is a multi million dollar investment for development teams. It took us years to make this turn.

- Finally it’s disruptive because you have to be comfortable in the state of “blowing in the wind”. Typical enterprise companies built loyalty through ridiculously expensive upgrades and data that was so locked down you had to syphon your data out discretely if you were thinking about switching vendors. Now you MUST, absolutely MUST deliver a steady flow of functionality and make your data available and accessible via standard web protocols. That’s a scary situation for many established vendors. It’s disruptive because that’s what our customers want. That’s what we are giving them. But many won’t.

3. What is the next big thing in Cloud Computing?

(AR): The intersection of consumer applications (more than just social) into Enterprise data. SaaS and cloud moved your data to the [potentially] accessible cloud. Soon it will be about making sense of all that data in the cloud. So Enterprise SaaS vendors will be forced to make their data accessible. That’s uncomfortable position for many traditional enterprise software companies who always felt the “hoarding” of their data is what kept customers paying their maintenance bills. So now the data must be “freed” and accessible through standard formats. And not only that, just like Gen X/Yers started bringing iPhones and Skype into the Enterprise without “permission”, we will need to be able to mash our Enterprise data up with consumer applications (especially social). Why not allow identity management via Facebook?

For example, take Apple with iOS5 is delivering their notification center — one place for the person to direct all their important action items. It is our job to plug into that if the user wants us too. Same with social streams. People don’t want 10 different streams, they might want a couple… so how do we publish and subscribe into those places where a user already works. Instead of taking an application-centered view, it is time to take a person-centered view. Cloud lets us do that.

4. What are you doing that’s disruptive for Cloud Computing?

More…

News Analysis: SAP Buys SuccessFactors for $3.4B Signals SAP’s Commitment To Cloud, HCM, and Social

SuccessFactors Acquisition Puts SAP In Direct Competition With Workday And Taleo

SAP (NYSE:SAP) announced its $3.4B acquisition of SuccessFactors (NYSE: SFSF) as it seeks to bolster its position in the Cloud and more importantly in the rapidly growing strategic HCM market.  Based in San Mateo, CA, USA, SuccessFactors brings over 15 million subscription users from 3,500 customers in 168 countries.  The company has 1450 employees and has been one of the SaaS/Cloud darlings of the industry.  When completed, SuccessFactors will remain an independent entity renamed, SuccessFactors, an SAP company.  Lars Dalgaard, Founder and CEO, SuccessFactors will lead the cloud business for SAP.  A quick analysis of the news reveals:

  • SAP seeking a comprehensive and complementary HCM solution. SAP believes the combination of SuccessFactors and SAP will create a comprehensive HCM solution, marrying strength in enterprise applications with people-focused cloud applications. Today, SAP serves the market with a comprehensive and international Core HR and payroll.  Other on-premise offerings include talent management, workforce analytics, and shared services delivery. Key offerings from SuccessFactors include areas such as talent management, recruiting management, goal management, performance reviews, and business execution.  Further, SAP believes the core SFSF offerings will be an attractive to more than 500 million employees of SAP customers .  SAP has 15,000 HCM deployments (not customers) that could benefit from one-stop shopping.

    Point of View (POV):
    While the core offerings provided a solid approach, these applications remained in the systems of transaction world and lacked many of the newer requirements for systems of engagement.  In fact, many customers left SAP to go to SuccessFactors to accelerate innovation in the talent space. The rise of Taleo, Workday, and Ultimate Software comes from the lack of general innovation in the HCM space by legacy vendors such as Oracle, PeopleSoft, and SAP.  Cloud computing provided the opportunity to deliver rapid innovation to customers.  Consequently, existing customers will welcome the move while best of breed purists will have to overcome the surprise and determine how innovative they expect SAP to become in HCM.
  • SuccessFactors’ provides SAP with massive cross-sell opportunities. SAP believes the core SFSF offerings will be an attractive to more than 500 million employees of SAP customers .  SAP has 15,000 HCM deployments (not customers) that could potentially go for one-stop shopping from SAP.

    Point of View (POV):
    SAP sees the acquisition as a great cross-sell opportunity for other cloud apps and analytics.  Other opportunities include CRM, Collaboration, Travel, and Procurement in the cloud.  In the past two years, Success Factors has made the shift to focus on business performance execution and provides a real time decision making platform.  While customers can acquire a solution from one vendor, the integration of the various cloud platforms may prove to be a challenge.  However, from a financial play, Co-CEO, Bill McDermott sees this as an easy way to meet his 2015 target of €20billion and move towards the 35% margin he seeks to bring shareholders.