Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The War for PeopleSoft is over: Someone forgot to tell Workday

In the year before PeopleSoft was bought by Oracle in a hostile takeover in 2005, there was a huge amount of drama in the marketplace (about whether the deal would go through due to anti-trust laws) and even Gartner was in the mix.

Oracle did succeed in buying PeopleSoft and most of the Senior Executives at PeopleSoft ended up leaving the company. Today, PeopleSoft is a successful part of Oracle and at Oracle OpenWorld last month, CEO Larry Ellison did a nice job of telling the Fusion story (the integration of a number of legacy products into a common platform). Oracle Fusion looks good and because of that and Oracle execution in general, Customers feel a lot better about Oracle than they did back in the day. The battle for PeopleSoft is over, Oracle won.

However, when you hear from an upstart called Workday, which features former PeopleSoft executives Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri, it sounds like the battle is not over. Workday is doing some great marketing (particularly with press and analyst influence), but as always with marketing and spin, you have to separate the facts from the fiction.

Today, Workday is still a pre-IPO start-up. Oracle is a Titan. Besides PeopleSoft, over the last few years Oracle has gobbled up Siebel Systems and most recently Sun Microsystems (this week they announced a $1.5 Billion deal to buy RightNow).

It used to be easy to bash Oracle, but times have changed and Oracle is bringing its A game. They make a compelling argument to the Enterprise CFO to consolidate and go with an all Oracle Suite. On top of that, Oracle also is launching their own Public Cloud.

Ripping out core HR is easier said than done, particularly when Oracle now has  Oracle Social Network, a full Social platform that integrates with its HR Suite. So, let the war of words continue and we'll see how both providers fare in the land of execution.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gartner, Forrester and now Aragon Research

Since this is the week of Gartner Symposium, an annual ritual I attended for 12 straight years, I thought it would be good to put things in perspective.

Many colleagues I worked with (who ended up being real friends), joined Gartner when it had revenues in the $30M to $60M range. I joined when revenues were around $300M and left just after they hit the $ 1 Billion mark.

During my time at Gartner, we grew tired of the ex-Gartner-ites at Meta Group (nearly all were from Gartner), so Gartner CEO Gene Hall bought them. Then the Meta and Gartner internal turf wars started and things got interesting.

Forrester is the one large analyst firm left that still has relevance, particularly outside of IT. They have their strengths and weaknesses just like Gartner. While I was at Saba, I was a customer of both firms. More on that later. Will Gartner buy Forrester? Only time will tell.

One resounding theme I've heard from end users and vendors alike is that there isn't that much choice anymore when dealing with analyst firms.  Offering choice and going back to real, hard hitting research and analysis is why we founded Aragon Research. There are lots of good bloggers out there, but there are not many analyst firms publishing research notes with real analysis and advice every month.

We offer a choice to enterprises and to technology providers and we have the track record that can help ensure you make the right technology related decisions to grow your business. Check out our website or our launch video and have fun at Gartner Symposium!

PS Make sure you wear comfortable shoes while in Orlando!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Collaboration and Content in the Cloud

First came ECM, then came Microsoft SharePoint, then Google took content to the Cloud. Now everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, as sharing content gets even easier in the cloud. Lots of start-ups and existing providers are jumping in (Box, Dropbox, Citrix, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Mindjet) and many others. It is all about making access to content fast, easy and mobile.

At Gartner, I helped coin the term Basic Content Services (BCS) as a way to describe what, at the time were emerging capabilities in products like SharePoint, which was not full Enterprise Content Management (ECM). Microsoft didn't like the term BCS and started to proclaim themselves as full ECM.

Jump ahead to 2011 and files are larger, people (like sales execs) are using tablets for work, and email systems block the transport of large files. Some are calling this new capability Cloud Content Management and for vendors it is a hot market. There is a large amount of investment, mainly at Box, which is gaining significant attention in this space. As a result, there is also new M&A activity occurring (e.g. Citrix announced it is buying ShareFile). Expect to see a lot more in the coming months.

In 2011, it is about more than just putting content in the Cloud. People want to be able to collaborate too, and for those that remember, collaboration has always been part of the content management story. People need access to the content, but often they need to collaborate with others on it. Google established the collaborative content approach with Google Docs and now others are working hard to capitalize on that trend.

As a recent example of collaborative content, Mindjet now offers their mind mapping tool as a Cloud service, Mindjet Connect. You can create information maps, edit and collaborate on them, as well as manage content with this new cloud service. Additionally, Cisco recently acquired Versly, which allows users to collaborate within a Microsoft Office document.

Aragon Research is publishing a syndicated research note this month that reviews this shift towards Collaborative Content in much deeper detail. There are lots of choices that will emerge and it is clear that business leaders are not waiting for the old way of doing things with ECM.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Tale of Two Tech Titans, IBM and Kodak

The tale of two 100 year old tech firms is really about  thriving vs surviving.  IBM and Kodak have both been around  for over 100 years. In fact, earlier this year, IBM celebrated its 100th year.  Kodak has been around longer, going back into the 1880s, when George Eastman developed film and the first camera.

Kodak and IBM are part of American history. When I was a kid, my mom loved her Kodak Camera. Later on I got a Kodak Instamatic  and thought it was cool. IBM was there too, with the famous punch card machines that fed data into mainframes, typewriters, and the IBM PC. Today, you can see some of that history when you turn on an episode of Mad Men and watch one of the actors typing on an IBM Selectric or using a Kodak Carosel projector.

Jump ahead to 2011 and it is a very different tale for the two firms. Today, IBM is thriving, its market cap and stock price are up, but that is partly because over the years, IBM has made some very tough decisions that it often took heat for. IBM exited businesses, such as typewriters and PCs as they became commoditized (they also exited the printer business).

Kodak is not in the same place that IBM is, but it is still around (most firms from the 1800s are not).  Today Kodak is struggling to survive, partly because of the shift from analog to digital photography. People are not buying film and they aren't printing photos as much as they used to. Kodak does make one of the best inkjet printers I've used and by far one of the best scanners, but it is a crowded market.

Rochester, New York is the home of Kodak. Kodak employment in Rochester has shrunk from a high of over 60,000 in 1982 to now under 7,400. When I lived there, many neighbors worked at Kodak, but many found their careers cut short. Some were 4th generation employees.

IBM has gone through tough times too, and there was a time when it had to do some serious downsizing. IBM weathered that storm and today it is back on top, as one of the strongest Tech brands in the world.

The lesson learned here is that business survival is tough. In a digital world that we live in today in 2011, it is even tougher because new competitors can emerge out of nowhere.

There is still hope for Kodak, but these are tough times in Imaging and Printing. Just ask any camera manufacturer what they are thinking, now that Smartphones (e.g. iPhone 4S) have world class camera lenses in them.