Wednesday, October 19, 2011

“The Social Economy” Embarks for New Harbor, Bigger Ship

Seven weeks ago I posted a short piece on this site announcing the launch of Stellwagen Research and this blog.  Both were created to focus on the broader issues of the Social Economy, including the next wave of enterprise applications and platforms, social intelligence, Big Data, information visualization, and the corresponding effect on the “future of work.”  These topics have been passions of mine from my days at AMR Research.

While the goal of circumnavigating the social economy remains the same, I’m shifting to a new port and a more seaworthy vessel.
As you may have read on Twitter, LinkedIn, or ZDNet , I will be joining in a new role -- Chief Enterprise Strategist.   I’m excited about the opportunity to work with some of the world’s largest companies to help them in their transformation to “social enterprises.”

Why the change in course?
As I sat in the audience at the recent Dreamforce event, I realized that I was witnessing the start of the next major upheaval in enterprise software.  The social enterprise breaks down hierarchies and builds a tight, inclusive web with employees, customers, partners, and suppliers.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I see a huge opportunity in the “social supply chain.”

To me, Chatter represents the future of work.  The desktop is dead.  Instead, we need to have our laptops, tablets, and smart-phones seamlessly linked.  Information must be continuously updated and pushed to us.
The logical next step is to aggregate all of the Big Data in a virtual network operations center that visually displays your global performance in real-time – all at the swipe of your hand.  Touch here and see the pipeline by region or product or profit or rep. is a double threat to the current world order.  While it started out supporting “edge-apps-in-the-cloud” away from the core position that ERP vendors have enjoyed, that’s changing as new vendors move closer to the center with apps for ERP, financials, order management, and contract/configuration management.  In addition, has become the best-selling platform for do-it-yourself apps.
As an analyst, I always enjoyed watching the action from center court or the 50-yard line. offers me the opportunity to move my seat much closer to the eye of the upheaval. 

I can’t wait.
What do you think?

As always, I welcome your feedback and ideas.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On-Premise ERP Vendors and the Case of the Boiling Pot

Next month marks the 20th anniversary of Robert Reich’s appearance as the keynote speaker at AMR Research’s annual fall executive conference. You may recall that shortly after his speech,  he became the U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Clinton. We like to think that appearing on the AMR stage helped propel people to prominence, but that might be a stretch.
As I recall, he opened with a story about a frog. If you dropped the amphibian into a pot of boiling water, it would leap out ASAP.  If you started the same experiment with a more moderate temperature that you gradually increased to the boiling point, you would have a different outcome. Poached frog, anyone?
His point was that we are quick to react to dramatic events, but fail to respond to more gradual change.
The idea of on-premise ERP vendors as frogs occurred to me around 4:30 this morning. For some reason I was thinking about a recent conversation I had with a former AMR colleague.  When I asked him what he was doing these days, he said he was working on replacing a legacy J.D. Edwards implementation running on IBM System i with NetSuite. 

When he said that, I wondered how the J.D. Edwards team had responded to the loss.
Here are three scenarios.  Which one do you think is most likely?

1.       The sales team had no idea they were being displaced.
2.       When they heard, they pleaded with the customer to keep paying maintenance until the switch over was completed, thus avoiding a total loss of revenue.
3.       They alerted parent company Oracle that there might be an opportunity for Fusion-in-the-cloud.

I suspect many of you picked one of the first two options.
On the flip side, any bets on whether NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson has already begun working on a whole JDE/System i replacement strategy?   How soon  will it go up on his website alongside comparisons with QuickBooks, Microsoft’s Great Plains, and SAP?

With 10,000 customers, NetSuite remains the early leader.  It has picked up some new competitors, though.   Sandy Kurtzig, creator of the best-selling MANMAN MRP II package used the recent Dreamscape event to launch Kenandy.  Think of this as the cloud-and-social version of MANMAN.  She stood on stage alongside Kleiner Perkins’ Ray Lane with both wearing buttons with a bar through the ERP acronym, a nod to’s famous “No Software” logo.   By the way, Kleiner led a $10.5M first round investment. is also an investor.

She was later followed on stage by Infor’s Charles Phillips.  Ironcially, his company’s product portfolio includes the original MANMAN software. Think Ms. Kurtzig will be targeting some of Infor’s legacy base?
Rootstock’s Pat Garrehy and team also used Dreamforce to announce their plans to offer ERP software to salesforce customers.  They currently offer manufacturing apps for NetSuite, too.  The company is  taking a slightly different approach than Kenandy by including salesforce CRM and FinancialForce as part of the suite. Mr. Garrehy also has significant ERP experience having run Relevant Business Systems for 20 years before selling it to Consona in 2006.  Like Kenandy, they are eager to target the lucrative, legacy on-prem  base which easily exceeds 100,000 customers.

This is not to say that the on prem vendors don’t have cloud products available.  They do.  But, they also face significant organizational hurdles.  If your sales model is based on reaching specific revenue targets, how do you get reps to switch from large, one-time perpetual license deals to a subscription model?  What incentive does a sales manager or sales EVP have to transition to recurring revenues?  After all, you have to keep feeding the quarterly revenue beast.
What do you think?

If you read this and said “baloney, my company is too big for cloud ERP,” look around at some of the purchase decisions being made by your peers in neighboring business units. You may be surprised that their cool new business intelligence apps that you admired are running in the new MicroStrategy Cloud. 
My point is that the new innovation around social and mobile is taking place in the cloud.  While cloud adoption started at the edge with sales force automation and HR, it’s moving towards the center with ERP and business intelligence.

Two decades ago Mr. Reich warned an audience about the risks of ignoring change.  It merits repeating today.  While the water doesn’t seem too hot right now, it’s better to have a seat at the table than to be the meal.

As always, I welcome your feedback and advice.  Please add your voice to the conversation.