Monday, December 26, 2011

SOA and Social Business

Electronic Social Networking Services like Facebook are very popular.The distinction between Social Networks services and similar Business services like Linkedin are not clear. Businesses use Facebook for commercial purposes and sometimes Linkedin users use it for social purposes. The identity of services such as Twitter is not clear as well: it is used for commercial and for social purposes. 

Usage of Social Networking Services in an Enterprise context is not as simple as using it in a Consumer context.  Google's Steve Yege's post published incidentally to an external Google+ circle instead of internal circle (including only Google's employees), is an illustration of issues facing an Enterprise using a Social Networking Service.

The differences between Enterprise Social Networking Services are similar to the differences between SOA Services (Enterprise context) and Mashups (Consumer context): Management and Security are essential in the Enterprise context. However, usage of Electronic Networking Services could be beneficial for enterprises.

IDC believes that curiosity in Social networking Services is turned into a business opportunity as the lines between Consumer and Enterprise continue to blur. 

In  an interesting Research Note titled: Becoming a Social Business: The IBM Story, IDC's  analysts Erin Traudt and Richard Vancil analyze one of the pioneers Social Businesses: IBM.

According to IDC's Social Business survey, Social Software usage moved beyond the Early Adopters stage. 41% of the participants in the survey conducts in September 2010 indicated that they already implemented Social Software. 

According to the IDC report, the major benefits of becoming a Social Business are:
1. Deeper relationships with customers, employees, partners and suppliers
2. Agility and Transparency
3. Higher employees' productivity and satisfaction
4. Increased engagement and feedback from customers
5. Accelerated Innovation and better intellectual capital reuse  

Social Networking Software is only an Enabler. An Organizational Culture transformation and Process changes are required in order to become a Social Business. According to IDC it is a long Journey.

Social Businesses and SOA
Usage of Web technologies as well as usage of SOA in Social Networking Software is not the important part connecting SOA and Social Networking Services. 

The important links between them are the following Organizational and Cultural constituents:

  •   Sharing
SOA is about sharing Services or Service Reuse. Social Networks essence is sharing information. Sharing information by usage of Enterprise Social Networking Software can be used for analyzing and defining new SOA Services as well as for delivering information about existing Services to IT experts and Business users.

  •  Cultural and Organizational Changes
 SOA initiative failure or success depends on Organizational, Cultural and Methodological factors. Adequate Maturity Level is a prerequisite.
A previous post is a link to my presentation titled: Methodological and Organizational aspects of SOA and BPM . The presentation explains why Methodological and Organizational aspects are more crucial for successful SOA implementation than pure technological aspects. Unfortunately, the presentation, presented in the Israeli Systems Analysts conference, is a Hebrew presentation. However, High Maturity Level and Reuse Culture are required for transforming a Business to Social Business, as well.  
IDC's opinion is: "A Social Business centers on "People as a Platform ...". This approach is very different from current approaches in most companies.  
  • A Long Journey
Both SOA and Cultural Business are paradigmatic shift, requiring a long time and a lot of efforts and commitment. 

  • Process Changes  
Expect Process changes as part of deployment of these paradigms.

  • Agility 
Research results show that Agility is SOA's most important Value Proposition. Social Business is an Agile Business which is capable to change and adapt.

  • Innovation
Innovation is another Value Proposition of SOA. 
Flexible Architecture Agile Enterprise as well as looking for similarities and commonalities between systems encourages Innovation.

Open Social interactions in a Social Business also enhance Innovation. Receiving feedback from employees, customers and partners could drive Innovation. 

 Although SOA is very different from Enterprise Social Networks, they share some basic principles and.
Both are driving more Agile and Innovative Business   

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not every acquisition is not a great idea

On May 2010 SAP acquired Sybase. According to my post titled: Acquisition is not simple: SAP-Sybase acquisition agreement, buying Sybase was not a great idea. If you would like to know why you can read my post.

Today (December 3rd 2011), SAP buys Successful Factors the provider of Cloud-based human resource management software, for  $3.4bn in cash. This time I would not argue that it is not a good idea.

Actually the last paragraph in my post about Sybase acquisition was titled: Which type of company I would acquire if I were Sap's CEO? Believe it or not, I recommended that "a successful SaaS applications company could be an adequate acquisition target". 

According to Financial Times, SuccessFactors Human Resources (HR) SaaS applications provider has 5 millions subscriptions at more than 3,500 companies worldwide and it is believed to be the second largest Cloud-based  provider of Enterprise software after
Lars Daalgard, SuccessFactors CEO will run SAP's Cloud business after the deal.

My Take
SuccessFactors products is a comprehensive HR SaaS suit including Workforce Planning,  Employee Life Cycle and Business Performance, Compensation Management, Career and Development Planning, Employee Profile, Reporting, Workforce Analytics, Recruitment etc. 

This acquisition is another evidence in the direction towards SaaS as a Mainstream approach for Business Applications.

Oracle's recent RightNow acquisition is another evidence. RightNow is a CRM vendor.

As far as ERP is concerned SaaS ERP evolution is on two axis: 

1. Type of Applications - First non-core ERP applications such as CRM and HR and only afterwards Core ERP applications such as Financials, Manufacturing and Production Planning etc.
SuccessFactors applications are HR applications.

2.  Enterprise Size - SMBs before large and complex enterprises.
SuccessFactors applications are used by Large Enterprises as well as by SMBs.

The SuccessFactors acquisition and its CEO Lars Daalgard's appointment as the manager of SAP's  Cloud business is an indication that SAP Business by Design  is a limited SaaS solution.


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