SAP takes gamble on enterprise bloggers

This week, SAP is hosting its annual US-centric user conference SAPPHIRE. Jeff Nolan, who leads SAP's Apollo (Attack Oracle) group has taken the brave step of inviting 10 independent bloggers. These are people with no direct affiliation to the company. In at least one case – Neil Robertson – has direct links to SAP's nemesis – Oracle. Vinnie Mirchandani has already declared his hand in this upcoming event.

Jeff's done a great job of not only assembling a crack team, but also made access to their commentary as easy as possible. If you choose to follow the action, then you can go here. SocialText has provided a wiki which has completely open access. They've mashed that up with GoogleCalendar so you can see what's been arranged for the lads.

This is an incredibly important move. It will for instance be interesting to see the extent to which mainstream media picks up on what the bloggers are saying. I'd also be interested to see what the PR blogging community makes of it.

By the way. If you look at the SAP press office for the event, it's pretty bare. How does that compare with the information rich and dynamic bloggers wiki?

In the meantime, I'm hoping the likes of Microsoft, Sage, IRIS, MYOB and many others in the applications market are watching this. Oh yes – the title of this post: Over the years and despite its monolithic and proscriptive approach to applications, its hideous cost and lack of recent innovation, you've got to give them credit for taking this step. In that sense, SAP really is "staying ahead of the pack."

As an aside, I wonder what Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, EDS, Accenture, PwC, KPMG and the rest make of this?

UPDATE: I found this page which shows the areas of interest for these folk.

UPDATE 2: It's not entirely clear whether virtual attendees will be allowed to comment directly to the wiki or leave questions. I've asked the question.

UPDATE 3: Ross Mayfield of SocialText asked me to put him 'on assignment.'

Cross posted from AccMan Pro

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Trading floor innovation shows the way

The Wall Street Journal carried an interesting glimpse into the future of investment house trading floors. (Stick with me on this – it’s a 10-year out picture.) The thrust of the article is that over time, the statistical and other forecasting tools used by these rocket scientists will radically change:

Jarrett Lilien, president and chief operating officer of E*Trade, says new technology could allow people to create their own interface for accessing information and making trades. A way this could be done is with a display window made up of customizeable pieces drawn from several different Web sites that are constantly updating on their own.

This sounds very much like the nascent alternative desktops on offer from vendors like Zoho and which are being added to through the concept of enterprise mashups. Today, we’re at the very start of what might be possible. Looking some years out:

Along these lines, E*Trade is exploring ways to let users combine parts of its site with other sites. “We have to be prepared to go in both directions — [to let users] drag tools onto our site, and likewise, something that allows users to pull pieces of our content and functionality to other sites,” explains Mr. Lilien.

These are interesting ideas. What they’re really talking to is the notion of delivering individual components that come together to create a user specific experience. In this sense, it’s like picturing applications as being decluttered. But it’s a lot more and despite the current enthusiasm for all things Web 2.0, it won’t be as easy as some might suggest.

What the article doesn’t discuss but implies as a subtext is the need to integrate these new applications. Contrary to what many would have people believe, this is not as simple as it sounds. Investment banks spend vast amounts of money on ensuring seamless operations in the back and front offices but there is not as much effort put into joining the front and back offices. To my mind, this latest set of ideas should be seen as a cue to give the integration aspect serious consideration. If for no other reason than the fact that MiFiD is supposed to provide tangible benefits to the end customer and these latest ideas could serve to meet that objective.

Cross-posted from Integration Monitor

Here we go

This is an occasional blog for those enterprisey things I come across that don’t really fit on my main site AccMan Pro or which are cross posted from my other presense, Integration Monitor. It will be interesting to see which peices fit in where and how it all comes together over time.