Friday, April 20, 2018
When we hear the term artificial intelligence (AI), most of us immediately think of the AI we encounter in our personal lives: web ads based on our search history, facial recognition on Facebook, or the interactive voice response systems of our banks or insurance companies. Or, maybe we think of personal digital assistants, such as Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), or Cortana (Microsoft). In other words, we all use AI on a personal level, whether we call it AI or just expect it to be part of our everyday experience as consumers.
Just as social networking and smartphones took hold first in the consumer world and then moved into business, we can also expect artificial intelligence to begin to move into business applications in a natural way.
Today, nearly every large enterprise software vendor, and many of the smaller ones, are working to embed AI capabilities into the core of their business software. Here are examples from just three of them.
Read the rest of this post by Dee Long on the Strativa blog: AI Coming Soon to a Business System Near You
Wednesday, January 03, 2018
For example, with ERP implementations we see companies investing the time and energy to select the right system but spend no time at all to ensure that the people who have to use the system buy in to the decision.
Then they wonder why, when it is time to start the implementation, employees resist moving to the new system.
Why do business leaders too often neglect the people-side of change? It is usually because they think of change management as something intangible, something that they cannot control, measure, or track. They know how to develop a project plan for technical implementation of a new initiative (for example, an ERP system), but they don’t know how to develop a plan with tangible and practical steps to help people embrace the new system. They know how to manage projects, but not how to manage change.
Less Talk, More Action, NeededIt is not for lack of talk about change management. The same business leaders have shelves full of books about change management, cultural change, and leadership. But too much of what has been written about change management is theoretical. After reading the book, the leader still doesn’t know what to do in terms of practical steps to take care of the people-side of change.
A real change management program is not something soft or nebulous. After years of research and real-world experiences, change management professionals have developed many methods and tools that can make change management as tangible and practical as project management.
Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog:
Change Management Doesn’t Have to Be a Game of Chance
Labels: change management
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
What is the difference between an RFI and an RFP? In our software selection consulting services, we develop an RFI near the beginning of the vendor evaluation process. The RFI includes a description of the client’s organization and the client’s project. It also includes a list of key requirements for the new system—not an exhaustive list, but essential functionality or processes that are distinctive for the client. Vendors are asked to respond as to their ability to satisfy those key requirements. Vendors are not asked for a cost proposal at this time. We typically make the RFI available to as many vendors as we think are qualified to respond, or to those that express an interest in responding—usually five or more.
An RFP, in contrast, is published near the end of the evaluation process, after each finalist vendor (typically 2-3) has conducted its demonstrations or other proof-of-concept. The vendors are asked to provide a cost proposal, along with their proposed license/subscription agreements and a high-level implementation proposal with costs and schedules. The vendors’ RFI responses are incorporated as an attachment, which they can revise based on what they’ve learned since they first responded to the RFI.
Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog: In Vendor Evaluation, Don’t Shortcut the RFI Process
Friday, June 16, 2017
Developing an IT strategy for some organizations can be difficult because of the presence of a legacy system. Legacy systems that are old, out-of-date, and difficult to maintain are a huge obstacle to innovation. As a result, business leaders become increasingly frustrated by their inability to roll out new mobile apps, connect with customers, analyze business performance, or become a digital business.
In recent years, it has become popular to describe organizations with an out-of-date legacy system as being in “technical debt.” I would take this a step further. If an organization ignores the need to update the system for too long, it can lead to what I refer to as “technical bankruptcy.”
We can define technical bankruptcy as a situation where the organization cannot, or finds it exceedingly difficult to, pay off the technical debt. It does not mean that the organization is in financial bankruptcy but rather that its systems are broken or held together in a way that makes them extremely difficult to upgrade.
Significant Percentage of Organizations Are at Risk of Technical BankruptcyIn work with our clients at Strativa over the past several years, we have gained new insights into challenges facing organizations that have out-of-date legacy systems. We recently took the opportunity to combine those insights with survey data from our sister IT research firm, Computer Economics, to produce a new report, Avoiding Technical Bankruptcy in Legacy Systems. (Click the link to download the report free from the Strativa website.)
Figure 3 from the full report shows the magnitude of the problem as it applies to ERP systems. A small but significant percentage (7%) of organization have not upgraded their ERP systems for 10 or more years. These are likely to already be in technical bankruptcy. But the 13% of organizations that have not upgraded their systems in the five-to-nine-year time frame are in the danger zone: Technical debt is building, and if the organization does not undertake a major upgrade, it risks falling into technical bankruptcy.
Signs of Technical BankruptcyWhat are typical signs that a legacy system has reached the stage of technical bankruptcy? We found five characteristics:
In the full report, we explore the symptoms of technical bankruptcy and the devastating effects that it has on the organization. We continue by quantifying the scope of the problem specifically for ERP systems, using our research on the typical age, frequency of upgrades, and extent of modification of these systems.
- Extensive modifications, extensions, and interfaces.
- Poor understanding of the system by users and IT alike
- Direct involvement of IT personnel in business processes.
- Legacy system atrophy as shadow IT emerges.
- Upgrade or replacement hard to justify.
Most importantly, we conclude with recommendations on how to avoid technical bankruptcy and, for organizations that have reached this stage, strategies for getting out and staying out of technical bankruptcy going forward.
Download the full report, free from the Strativa website:
IT Strategies for Legacy Systems: Avoiding Technical Bankruptcy.
Bonus: Watch a Datamation's James McGuire in a video interview with me about the report.
Thursday, June 08, 2017
Why Is Manufacturing Cloud ERP Lagging Behind?Nevertheless, there is no cloud ERP provider the size of Salesforce or Workday, and there is certainly no cloud ERP provider for the manufacturing industry with that scale. NetSuite was founded in 1998, around the same time as Salesforce. But it only reached the $741 million revenue mark in 2015, before being acquired by Oracle. Claiming more than 30,000 companies, organizations, and subsidiaries in more than 100 countries as customers, it is by far the largest cloud ERP provider. Although it has done very well with professional services firms, software companies, and other services-related businesses, manufacturing companies form only a small part of that number. Plex Systems has a pure cloud ERP system for manufacturers dating from 2000 and has been rapidly growing over the past four or five years. But its customer count is under 600. After NetSuite and Plex, the number falls significantly: Cloud-only systems such as SAP’s Business ByDesign, Rootstock, and Kenandy, each have even fewer manufacturing customers.
To understand how great the market opportunity is for cloud ERP in manufacturing, consider that, according to the U.S. Census, there were about 63,000 manufacturing firms in the United States in 2014 with 20 or more employees, as shown in Figure 1. Considering that the estimated customer counts by vendor in the preceding paragraph include customers outside of the U.S., it is safe to say that manufacturing cloud ERP probably has less than 2% market share in the U.S. The market opportunity going forward, therefore, is enormous.
Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog: Manufacturing Is a Huge Opportunity for Cloud ERP
Thursday, May 04, 2017
software selection consulting, clients often seek our advice on implementation partners. In fact, our experience over several decades tells us that the choice of an implementation team is as important, sometimes more important, than the choice of a new system.
In choosing an implementation consulting group, clients often start out thinking that it’s best to choose the vendor’s own professional services group. They think that no one can know the software as well as the vendor’s own personnel. They think that when problems arise, the vendor’s consultants will be in a better position to deal with the software vendor. They also think that there will be less finger-pointing: the consultants blaming the vendor, or the vendor blaming the consultants.
These considerations have merit. But there are other factors to consider, factors that may make an implementation partner, or even an independent consulting firm, a better choice.
Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog:
Software Vendor Implementation Services Not Always Best Choice.
Thursday, February 09, 2017
One of the most interesting of these is Seattle-area-based Acumatica, founded in 2008—just yesterday in “ERP years.” Like many other ERP startups, it initially focused on services businesses but soon added distribution and CRM functionality to its horizontal capabilities. Its go-to-market strategy is 100% through value-added resellers (VARs), who can add their own industry-specific software on top of Acumatica. Its VAR strategy, in this respect, is similar to that of Microsoft Dynamics and Sage. In fact, many of the new VARs in Acumatica’s channel program have come from the Microsoft and Sage ecosystems.
Acumatica’s partner and customer conference in January gave us an opportunity to update our view of this emerging cloud ERP provider. We find that Acumatica is interesting because of three characteristics that are somewhat novel in the ERP world.
Continue reading on the Strativa blog: Three Things to Like about Acumatica
Monday, January 23, 2017
But small business doesn’t always mean simple business. Like larger companies, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) need to reach new markets, develop new products, satisfy customers, and control costs. The main difference is that SMBs need to do these things with fewer resources.
In recent years, however, software vendors have announced new products to address the challenges facing small businesses. This post outlines two of them.
Read the rest of this post by Strativa consultant Dee Long: New Customer-Facing Systems Extend the Reach of Small, Midsize Businesses
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Human Capital Management (HCM) is turning out to be fertile ground for providers to develop use cases for data science. The recent HR Technology Conference in Chicago provided an excellent opportunity for us to learn about the offerings of six such providers.
At the same time, there are other interesting problems for data science to solve in HCM beyond the initial use cases.
Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog: HCM Fertile Ground for Data Science.
Sunday, October 02, 2016
The personalized coupons we receive at checkout are generated by the grocer’s analysis of our purchase history. Likewise, the targeted ads we see on the web are based on ad brokers’ use of big data generated by our browsing history. Large health insurers use big data to target us with advice on managing our health and lowering costs of medication. And major political campaigns are getting good at using big data to target us based on our demographics.
Based on our experience as consumers, it is evident that the “big guys” know how to use big data. But what about small to midsize companies?
The good news is that business analytics and even big data are becoming more readily available to smaller businesses. This is the result of three big enablers.
Read the rest of this post by Strativa consultant Dee Long, on the Strativa blog.
Friday, September 02, 2016
Salesforce.com released its second quarter earnings this week, followed by its quarterly earnings call. To provide a deeper analysis of the state of Salesforce.com’s business, we are pleased to release our SFDC Superlative Index™ for the latest quarter.
Developed by the Enterprise System Spectator, the SFDC Superlative Index is a proprietary metric that quantifies the enthusiasm of Salesforce.com’s executives, by counting the number of superlatives used in their quarterly earnings calls and analyzing the changes in their use of these superlatives over time. Our proprietary list of 12 superlatives currently includes: exciting, incredible, huge, amazing, outstanding, terrific, awesome, phenomenal, fantastic, tremendous, extraordinary, and spectacular.
Dramatic Decline in SuperlativesSalesforce executives used tracked superlatives only 71 times in their conference call this quarter. This is a significant drop from the 97 tracked superlatives used in the previous quarter, which was the highest number over the prior five quarters.
After the call, Salesforce.com’s share price fell sharply in trading overnight and the next day. Many analysts attributed the decline in the share price to the firm’s revised forward guidance and the level of new bookings. But we attribute it mostly to Salesforce executives' declining enthusiasm, as shown in Figure 1.
Analyzing the individual superlatives that make up the Index provides deeper insights.
Excitement Takes a HitSFDC executives appear to be losing excitement, using the word "excited/exciting" only 14 times in the most recent earnings call, less than half the number of times used in the previous quarter, as shown in Figure 2.
Nevertheless, CEO Marc Benioff reported that he was “so excited and … everyone in Salesforce is so excited” about the firm’s new artificial intelligence platform, Einstein.”
He was also enthusiastic about the firm’s recent acquisitions of Demandware and Quip. “But it's been an incredible time for us to acquire some phenomenal assets and I have never been more excited about Salesforce and our product line and coming into Dreamforce, like I said is, just awesome.”
Yet, new deals failing to close before the end of the quarter seemed to take a little off the edge of Benioff’s excitement. “So there [are] a lot of exciting things coming for Dreamforce, and nobody likes to see softness in any particular region…. Like I said, we really saw some great growth and deal flow in the United States, but we did get a bit of softness at the very end of the quarter,” he said.
For his part, any softness at the end of the quarter didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of COO Keith Block, who was still excited to be part of Salesforce.com. “As you know over three years ago Marc and I had many many conversations about coming onto Salesforce which I was super excited about and I continue to be super excited about being here.”
Nevertheless, Business Is Increasingly Incredible and AmazingThe decline in excitement, however, was partially offset by an increase in the use of the superlatives “incredible” and “amazing.” In fact, “incredible” took the top spot from “exciting” this quarter, with “amazing” jumping into the number two spot, as shown in Figure 2.
These two superlatives were especially pronounced in Benioff’s comments about recent acquisitions.
“And as you know, over the last few years we have acquired a number of AI companies. Incredible companies like RelateIQ, MetaMind, Implisit, PredictionIO, Tempo AI and more with amazing, amazing people and technology. We have been able to stitch all this together into this incredible AI platform and this focus on AI and on the critical aspects of AI as the next wave of our industry has resulted in a machine learning team of more than 175 data scientists who have built this amazing Einstein platform. And that’s really why I am so excited and why everyone in Salesforce is so excited.”He continued, “It's been an incredible time for us to acquire some phenomenal assets; and I have never been more excited about Salesforce and our product line. And coming into Dreamforce, like I said is, just awesome.”
In response to an analyst question, even the normally-reserved CFO, Mark Hawkins, shared some of Benioff’s enthusiasm for recent acquisitions. “By the way, I just want to call out, we are super pleased to have Demandware,” he said. “It's just an exciting [acquisition], adding functionality and a unique asset, as Marc called out, that we are super happy to have.”
Of course, nothing generates enthusiasm like the firm’s annual user conference, Dreamforce. Benioff said:
We have never been better positioned for the future. You are going to see that at Dreamforce. It is going to be a rush of innovation. There has never been more new products and more capabilities released at Dreamforce, and you are never going to see a better place to see how all this amazing innovation and products comes together. This is our biggest customer event of the year. Coming very very soon, October 4 through 7. We have got more than 2300 customer speakers inspiring, motivating, empowering, educating our amazing community of customer trailblazers. We also have an amazing lineup of speakers including Melinda Gates, and General Motors' Mary Barra, Congressman John Lewis, and many many more.Benioff also advised the financial analysts that they were "not going to want to miss" the band U2, which would be performing at Dreamforce, adding, "It's going to be an unforgettable event."
Rounding out the top five superlatives, SFDC executives went even further in describing developments during the quarter, using words such as huge (6 times) and phenomenal (3 times).
For a complete transcript of SFDC's recap of its incredible, amazing, and exciting quarter, check out the full transcript on Seeking Alpha.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Traditional providers of ERP systems typically sought to expand their functional footprint to include complementary applications outside of core ERP. Now cloud ERP vendors are adopting a similar strategy, bringing significant benefits to buyers.
For most companies, an ERP system is generally at the center of the business systems strategy. But a comprehensive applications portfolio includes much more than ERP. Most companies, even small and midsize businesses, have a surprising number of important systems outside of ERP.
By way of example, Figure 1 shows our proposed future applications landscape for a current client of my consulting firm, Strativa. (Company-specific references are removed). Although just a midsize company, it has plants and distribution centers around the world. As a result, the future applications portfolio will be quite extensive. At the core, within the red circle are the core ERP functions. Outside the circle are other enterprise system
s that must interact with the core ERP system. Nearly all of these systems will be new, or replacements of current systems.
Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog: The Growing Circle of Cloud ERP
Sunday, July 31, 2016
The deal was long expected, for several reasons. Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison was NetSuite’s original investor, and Evan Goldberg, NetSuite’s founder came out of Oracle. CEO Zach Nelson was an Oracle marketing executive. Oracle’s database is an integral part of NetSuite’s infrastructure.
But apart from helping Oracle in its race with Salesforce.com to get to $10 billion in cloud revenues, what are the benefits of the deal to Oracle? How does it help NetSuite, and what does it mean to the broader marketplace? Looking at the big picture, there are certainly benefits, but there are also several concerns.
Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog: Oracle Acquisition of NetSuite Is a Mixed Bag
Thursday, June 02, 2016
We often hear that Salesforce.com is an amazing company. But how amazing is it? The Enterprise System Spectator is proud to announce today a new metric that will be incredibly important for investors, customers, and fans of Salesforce.com everywhere: the SFDC Superlative Index™.
Through the SFDC Superlative Index, we can now quantify the awesomeness of SFDC. We do this by counting the number of superlatives used by SFDC executives in their quarterly earnings calls and analyzing the changes in the use of these superlatives over time.
Our proprietary list of superlatives currently includes the following: exciting, incredible, huge, amazing, outstanding, terrific, awesome, phenomenal, fantastic, tremendous, extraordinary, and spectacular.
Superlatives per Quarter Reaches High Water MarkThese are fantastic days for SFDC, terrific days indeed. As shown in Figure 1, SFDC executives used tracked-superlatives 97 times in the firm's most recent quarter, the greatest number in the past five quarters.
Analyzing superlatives that make up the SFDC Superlative Index provides deeper insights.
Excitement is Rising
SFDC executives are truly excited about the most recent quarter. As shown in Figure 2, we find that "excited/exciting" has now returned as the top superlative in the first quarter, after a sharp decline in the fourth quarter of FY 2016.
CEO Marc Benioff reported that he as "really excited to be here, really excited for the first quarter" and he was "really excited" about raising the company's full year revenue guidance. "This kind of accelerated revenue growth [is] something that we’re very, very excited about," he later added.
Benioff's excitement also extended to up-coming events, such as World Tour New York, which he said is already sold out. "So we’ll be excited to see you there," he added. He also said that he was "really excited to visit with all the Salesforce customers and developers who are coming Trailhead DX."
But Benioff saved his greatest excitement for the upcoming Dreamforce conference in October.
"I know the bands that are playing. I know what’s going on and I’m [not] going to give you too much of that yet," he said. "I can just tell you it’s going to be the biggest and most exciting Dreamforce ever."
COO, Keith Block, also shared Benioff's enthusiasm, especially about the firm's moves in Europe. "Obviously we’ve made investments with data centers in Europe which we’re very, very excited about, our customers are obviously excited about that," he said.
Business is Beyond ExcitingAs shown in Figure 2, SFDC executives went even further in describing developments during the quarter, using words such as incredible (23 times), huge (16), amazing (8), and outstanding (5) to round out the top five superlatives.
Early in the call, Benioff described the first quarter as the best that the firm has ever seen, "There is [sic] some incredible numbers you’re going to see including the cash flow number," he said. "We’re well positioned for another great year. This is amazing."
Block confirmed Benioff's enthusiasm. "I mean, this is an incredible company with incredible people and an incredible set of products and customers," he said.
Not only is SFDC incredible, SFDC customers are also incredible. For example, Benioff said, "Uber, one of the world’s great innovative companies, another expansion in the quarter, they’re an incredible innovator with off-the-chart growth." Regarding a new deal with Amazon in the quarter, Block said, "We love Amazon, we’ve got a great relationship with Amazon, they are a huge user of Salesforce and that certainly has been a huge part [of] this quarter as well."
In describing the firm's Sales Cloud, Benioff let loose with a string of incredibles:
"I mean we know that there is not just a cloud, there is not just a incredible cloud vision for Sales Cloud, not just incredible, social vision. You all know it has been built on this incredible engagement platform built on our Chatter core and then extended into Salesforce1. Of course it has incredible mobility, the best of any enterprise application in the world with more mobile users gone up than any other application that I’m aware of."We can only scratch the surface in this short post. For a complete transcript of SFDC's amazing, incredible, outstanding quarter, check out the full transcript on Seeking Alpha.
Friday, May 06, 2016
To see Plex now actively pursuing opportunities in food and beverage indicates that Plex is serious about this market. Nevertheless, even within this sector, Plex is selective in its focus.
This post outlines the capabilities of Plex for food and beverage manufacturers along with steps that it is taking to better serve this industry.
Read the whole post on the Strativa blog: Plex Developing a Taste for Food & Beverage