I’ve now had time to digest more of the information about the Office 2010 and ERP announcement that I discussed previously, specifically the functionality of Business Connectivity Services (BCS).
Microsoft has positioned BCS mainly for Office 2010 but has also mentioned it as a function that could be used for ERP, i.e., being able to access ERP data offline.
BCS … simplifies the process of accessing data offline by enabling the connection of any data in a SharePoint list – such as External Lists displaying data from Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions – with either Outlook 2010 or SharePoint Workspace 2010.
I think they are being disingenuous. What seems to be the real situation is that static data from an ERP gets copied to a temporary file which can be used offline. The other issue is that to use BCS seems to require quite a stack of technology including the renamed Groove, now SharePoint Workspace.
Offline access is fine for having access to data for read-only purposes, e.g., customer or product lists, but offline access with transactional capability (which I think Microsoft insinuates) could compromise the data integrity and validity of the whole ERP.
Do you think I am reading the wrong thing into the Microsoft announcement? How would you see offline ERP operating?
I have done a comparison of products from Google and Microsoft before, and now it’s time for another one – this time on Google Wave vs. SharePoint. At my office, we have been trying out Google Wave, but we are also a starting to use SharePoint so I have had the opportunity to use both.
Google Wave is a web application for real-time communication and collaboration. That means it allows you to view a document or a conversation at the same time that someone else is editing and updating it, and see those changes happen in real-time. The Google spin is that “With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.” Note that Google still refer to Wave as a beta-test product.
SharePoint (officially its Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, aka MOSS) is a product that Microsoft have been gradually developing and building for the last 3-4 years. It provides a platform for content and document management, collaboration and enterprise portals.
Here is my Pros and Cons of both products:
- Ease of access, access via browser
- Easy to read and edit
- The extensions, which are innovative and growing
- If you are using Internet Explorer, the Chrome Framework is required
- Sign-up for non-Google users is laborious
- No printing capability
- Poor support for export/import docs (an extension to do that didn’t seem to work and was difficult to understand)
- The results of pasting text is not predictable
- Support for all Office files
- Hierarchical nature – everything is part of a hierarchy of information, which can make finding documents difficult
- From my experiences elsewhere, it is implementation specific
- The process of checking documents out to edit them, and then checking back in is confusing and annoying
Both applications provide alerts for when documents change.
While I think Google Wave is a great tool, it has been difficult to get many in my office to adopt it. In effect, moving to Google Wave is also a change management project. Another Google Wave project sums up a number of issues:
- Not everyone has access to it, nor do most people care to get access
- It’s slow
- We weren’t using it right
When I started planning this blog, I wasn’t sure how I would end it. However, in the last week a new development has introduced a new slant – Microsoft’s announcment of Office 2010, which includes a new feature called ‘co-authoring‘. This appears to offer the same functionality as Google Wave - allowing multiple people to work on a document at the same time. If Office 2010 delivers on the promise it appears to offer, Google Wave is not going to get into the enterprise.
Why Google has taken so long working on Wave in beta, and not given it the capabilities that enterprises require, I do not know. If they want to get it adopted in companies, Google needs to start considering the organisational issues of implementing the system, and not just focus on cool technology features.
At the moment, I think Google has squandered a good chance it had of getting into the enterprise via a route that (initially) didn’t compete head-on with Microsoft. Unless Google make some substantial development efforts very soon I think they will lose out. Do you agree? What is your experience with Wave?
(Note: The comments expressed here are my own, based on my experiences with the products, and do not necessarialy reflect the views of my employer)
Amongst the news about the ashcloud in northern Europe and the build-up to the FIFA 2010 soccer World Cup here in South Africa, there was an announcement from a US software company called Microsoft about the release of Office 2010.
Reading the Dynamics-related articles, my impression is that Microsoft is trying to sell Office 2010 as the user interface for ERP – which is what I said almost exactly 2 years ago.
For data manipulation and presentation, Excel now has ‘Slicers’, ‘Sparklines’ and PowerPivot:
- Slicers are a better, more visual way of filtering for pivot tables.
- Sparklines are another of Edward Tufte’s innovations of graphical data presentation which provide a simple, ‘word-size’ graphic to accompany a number in a table. This looks cool and is obviously a feature made feasible via XAML.
- PowerPivot is a set of tools to get data out of a SQL database and into Excel and/or SharePoint.
If you have seen SYSPRO 6.1 you will know that the Fluid User Interface with XAML allows graphics like sparklines to be created, and SYSPRO Analytics already has the data management capabilities of PowerPivot – so Microsoft, no differentiator there for the Dynamics ERP products.
However, they show up one of Microsoft’s traditional focus areas – Office. Microsoft seems to have abandoned the opportunities made available from ProClarity, which could have complemented their ERP offerings, in favour of the product they know so well … and which earns them so much money.
What do you think of Office 2010? Will the Excel and other features encourage you to get Office 2010?
One of the über-bloggers in the social media space, John Moore, has written a post which shows the current world Internet penetration rates.
Obviously, from an African perspective, it’s sad to see how poorly the continent scores.
However, there is good news. Mark Shuttleworth’s Foundation has published a chart of the number of undersea cables that are coming to Africa. When you see at how poorly the continent has been served up till 2010, it’s no surprise that Africa’s Internet usage was so low.
With all the bandwidth that’s going to become available in the next 12-18 months, it will be interesting to see how Africa’s Internet participation starts to change.