Thursday, January 19, 2006

New report: Aligning IT with the Business

Report now available looking at factors affecting business managers' perceptions of how IT is performing.

It's largely based on feedback we received during a recent study when we asked 100 IT managers the question "What are the top three wishes or requests you hear most from your business management regarding ways in which IT can better support the business?"

You can view the key findings here and request a copy of the full report here.

As with all of our research reports, this one is free of charge.

VoIP for my Mum

With the report today on about Tesco launching a VoIP service, two things suddenly hit home with me. The first is that VoIP is about to hit the real mainstream consumer market, including people like my Mum. The second is that Tesco is starting to look like a serious telecoms player rather than someone just dabbling on the side - have you looked at the telecom section of its website recently?

Of course the Tesco brand itself will not appeal to everyone, but if this big retailer knows how to do anything, it's to design and articulate propositions that can be understood by anyone. Injecting this kind of down to earth simplicity into the often deliberately confused world of complex telecoms services and tariffs can only be a good thing.

Looking forward to their take on triple play (and quad play?) in due course.

Friday, January 13, 2006

SAP's relentless mid market push

Catching up on the news, just noticed that SAP has announced that there are now 600 certified partner solutions in its mid market All-in-One programme, and the claim is that there are already over 7,000 customers in about 50 countries taking advantage of these.

This takes me back to the late 90’s when a few of us were working on the evolution of the UK channel for SAP. Back then, most partners were taking the vanilla flavoured R/3 package and a rapid implementation methodology known as Accelerated SAP (ASAP) to bring down total project costs and implementation times to levels acceptable in a mid-market environment.

The big breakthrough was when SAP resellers were encouraged to build templated solutions for specific micro-verticals – the idea being that the big beastie of package came out of the box 70-80% preconfigured for the customer’s requirements. This brought down project cost and duration further making the solution accessible to an even broader audience.

I feel the need to mention this as I have heard a few people talk about SAP just paying lip service to the mid-market and trying to shoe horn a big corporate system into places it was never designed to go. The reality is that SAP and its “ecosystem” partners have been plugging away at this for a long time, and with modernisation of the tools and underlying technology, along with the accumulated number of micro-vertical variants through 6 or 7 years of partner efforts, this European software giant is actually in a pretty strong position today. Anyone who says SAP is not an established mid-market player has just not been paying attention.

Of course All-in-One templated solutions can only go down market so far, and SAP’s completely separate product line for the low end, BusinessOne, is not yet fully accepted by the mainstream. At this moment in time, we cannot therefore say that SAP has cracked the next level down, but with the same determination and staying power, who knows?

This is definitely an area to watch. As Microsoft and Oracle get their act together with their multiple ERP product lines, and hosted solutions are thrown into the mix to add some spice, the mid-market ERP space could become pretty interesting again.