I recently bought a Toshiba laptop computer as a 21st birthday present for my elder daughter. Beforehand, my wife and I decided that my daughter would need a machine that had horse power as she is doing engineering at university, but price was also a factor. In the end I found a Toshiba Satellite Pro which had a duo-core processor and 1 Gb memory. By default that configuration came with Windows Vista, but if I had selected a different (older, lower, smaller) configuration, it would have had XP.
Now some weeks later my daughter is complaining that Vista is a pain to use and doesn’t work as easily as XP, which she is used to elsewhere. She would like to have XP installed on the machine instead … or Linux. Unfortunately, the technical guy at work says it would too much of a hassle; its not just XP but all the associated drivers that need to be found, and loaded.
By coincidence I saw Ed Bott’s article about how XP and Vista are doing in the market. Apparently SMBs (small-medium businesses) prefer XP, consumers prefer Vista. I am not sure whether consumers prefer Vista, or whether they don’t have much of a choice (as in our case). Businesses on the other hand can often do with the older/lower/smaller configuration – cost is also lower – so it doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise that XP rules there.
What is Microsoft’s main revenue source for Windows – business or consumer? I would say business, and probably the bigger companies.
What are their plans for Vista roll-out? From what I read, those plans are not going to happen very soon.
How will that impact on Microsoft’s revenue in the quarters to come? We wait to see.
I have hear this evening the awful news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto by a Pakistani suicide extremist.
When I was a boy my family lived in Karachi, Pakistan during the time of her father’s leadership of the country. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was, in my opinion, a consummate politician whose populist policies unfortunately alienated the Pakistan military. As a result, he was deposed and eventually executed.
Today’s news makes me ponder whether the Bhutto family is like that other political family beset by tragedy, the Kennedys.
Whereto now for Pakistan?
A post by Judith Hurwitz warning about SaaS (Software as a Service) advises business that they need to know what they are getting into before they make a hasty decision. Some of the questions like should be asking are around their use of and attitude towards their data, and what are the third-party software integration issues they need to understand.
Sadagopan lists a number of applications that lend themselves to SaaS: “HR/Payroll; Procurement, Financial management; Business-to-consumer (B2C), e-commerce/product catalogs including dynamic pricing models, Loyalty management, Marketing & Sales promotions”
It seems to me that SaaS has a better in the consumer arena than in the enterprise. I haven’t come across a single company that has just one set of software application that runs the operations of the enterprise – either in finance and admin, distribution or manufacturing.
As for the data question, there may be some data that a business will let someone else manage, but every business has some data that they consider too confidential or proprietary to let someone take it over. How would a SaaS application handle that scenario?
Then there are the issues of country-specific regulation, whether in accounting, governance, safety regulation, data privacy, HR (which here in South Africa would include BEE – black economic empowerment).
I see Anshu proclaiming Oracle’s position in the SaaS stakes. I wonder how he would respond?
So I am late into the debate that started some time ago – should enterprise software be sexy, like consumer software? There’s a nice summary of all the blog arguments here.
My comment is how do you make a tedious but essential process like Accounts Payable (A/P) sexy? What about the designing of a Bill of Materials structure?
I noticed a press release from a major SYSPRO reseller in the UK that they are adding the Microsoft Dynamics AX solution to their offerings as it is “one of the fastest growing technologies in Microsoft’s ERP software suite, with sales of Dynamics AX increasing by 75% last year alone in the UK.” As I have written before – e.g. here and here – Microsoft Dynamics performance in the ERP market seems to be very patchy.
The press release seems to support a view I have that ERP is becoming regionalised; or to put it another way, the ERP world is not flat.
The ‘flat world’ concept came from Thomas Friedman’s best-seller ”The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century”, which claimed that the world’s competitive landscape has been flattened by increasing globalisation and reduced power of states. In my opinion, this was a very US-centric perspective. Fortunately, there is now a contrary view appearing - Acting Globally but Thinking Locally? The Influence of Local Communities on Organizations. Another Harvard article Businesses Beware: The World Is Not Flat, comments what many people outside the US and Canada could tell you:
national borders still matter a lot for business. While identifying similarities from one place to the next is essential, effective cross-border strategies will take careful stock of differences as well … we continue to live in a semiglobalized world, one where differences between countries and regions continue to matter.
According to the ‘flat world’ view and in the case of Dynamics AX, there should be hardly any difference between what is happening in South Africa and the UK. But in SA, AX is doing dismally while it sounds like it is doing well in the UK. The reason must be that those differences between countries are significant.
What I am now waiting for is companies like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle to appreciate the anti-Friedman view and encourage their marketing, and even development, teams to work with individual countries on localised solutions and messages, rather than thinking they can develop everything centrally and just ‘pass it down’ to the countries.
What I love about the blogosphere is how a stream of discussion starts and how facts and opinions get accumulated. This has happened recently starting with a blog by Jason Busch that claimed Africa is not fit for global sourcing. It was interesting to me that the opinion came from the US, a place not known for a good understanding of my continent.
A quick response came from South African ex-pat Thomas Otter giving lots of evidence why Jason’s view was mis-guided. Shortly after that, Dennis Howlett got involved in the debate, on the side of Thomas, even managing to reference one of my ‘good news’ blogs.
I am now very pleased to see a report from AMR referring to the rise of Africa. This is the view of global giant IBM who see Africa has a growth engine in the 21st century. The article mentions SA companies SAB/Miller, ShopRite, and Woolworths, and has some quotes that Jason should be aware of:
To the skeptic who still sees Africa as a hopeless mire of starving orphans and gun-toting thugs, consider what may be the most important fact of all: 25 years ago, Africa boasted only three democracies. Today there are 40.
10 years ago, the likelihood of economic growth in Africa overall was 25% and decline was 22%. Today the likelihood of growth is 45% and decline 12%.
Jason – I reckon Africa is actually very fit for business.
I have just spent the best part of the last week doing a SYSPRO manufacturing course. The days were long and I found maintaining concentration very hard. I was without doubt the oldest person on the course, by several years, and I noticed that the younger attendees seemed to find it easiest to stay in focus, especially towards the end of the day.
So I am wondering – while you are never too old to keep learning, does it get harder to do class-room learning?
Having worked on a number of ERP projects, and seeing how they so often seem to run over time and over budget, I was heartened by some news:
- - the late delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- - the problems one of our customers has in delivering their designs and builds on time
- - stories from engineer friends of mine who are struggling to keep projects on track and on time
The common thread to me is that these are all projects involving the design and implementation of complex systems, much like ERP projects.
The more I deal with manufacturing companies making complex products, the more I begin to think that sponsors and managers have unrealistic expectations about projects before they start. There also seems to be a general human problem that prevents people from grasping just how complex a system will become, especially where there are multiple points of integration.
I have become aware recently of two very different styles of partner management – from SYSPRO and Microsoft. One is collaborative and knowledgeable; the other is selfish and is poorly informed. Guess which partner?
At an informal meeting with SYSPRO, we got an assurance that they would would work with us in 2008 to get four 50+ user deals, which are a good size in this market.
The attitude at Microsoft Dynamics was to ask us to change to a NAV reseller, from AX, as it is not doing well in South Africa. A comment afterwards was that all Microsoft is interested in is having feet on the street. The fact that, as a NAV reseller, we would have to re-skill and would be up against a large incumbent, did not seem to be an issue to Microsoft.
I don’t know why Microsoft believes it can treat partners like foot soldiers in a battle. Perhaps it’s a cultural difference between a US and a South African company. I also wonder whether it’s not the old problem that US companies have about working in Africa – it’s far away and they don’t take the time and effort to get to know how business works here.