Significant Industry Announcements

By Geoffrey James

IBM introduced new WebSphere software designed for retail stores, distribution centers and remote manufacturing sites. The software is intended to offer the same computing capabilities for local applications and business processes that are available to the enterprise headquarters. The software enables the new class of sensor-based devices at the edge of a network, such as RFID readers and controllers, kiosks and self-checkouts, to be integrated with enterprise business processes. Our take: Rumors are floating around in the analyst community that IBM might spin off its software division. If so, expect to see them hire more software sales reps and become more effective selling against other enterprise software vendors. If this takes place, competitors should quickly move to partner more closely with IBM’s hardware and services groups.

Oracle introduced new contingent labor capabilities in its Oracle E-Business Suite that are intended to help HR organizations improve contingent worker recruiting and procurement processes by enabling them to attempt to eliminate redundant data entry, increase the accuracy and speed of invoice reconciliation and provide executives with accurate information about workforce spending and performance. Our take: Both Oracle and PeopleSoft (now owned by Oracle) have HR capabilities built into their products. Watch for a battle between two competing development groups with an eventual win on the Oracle side. The inevitable conflict offers opportunities for competing products. The right approach: We can fix your HR problems now. Why wait for Oracle/Peoplesoft to settle their turf wars?

PeopleSoft announced the general availability of PeopleSoft Enterprise Human Resource Management Solution (HRMS) 8.9, which contains additional support for contingent workforce and absence management. Our take: Although it’s been acquired by Oracle, the PeopleSoft organization will continue to release new products. Over time PeopleSoft’s product set is likely to languish, however, as PeopleSoft programmers migrate out of the company or into more mainstream groups inside Oracle. PeopleSoft competitors should sell fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) and propose migration plans that appear smoother than the eventual migration to Oracle’s product set.

SAP announced a new service offering to help customers ensure the security of their SAP systems. SAP Security Optimization searches for vulnerabilities in an enterprise’s SAP landscape and suggests action plans for resolving them. The recommended security measures can be carried out by the customer or by experienced security consultants from SAP Consulting and certified SAP partners. Our take: With all the press reports of viruses and security violations, system security is a big sales driver. SAP has taken a particularly clever approach that leads toward the sale of SAP services. SAP competitors should pooh-pooh this approach and point out that it’s only needed because SAP has security holes. Firms whose software leverages SAP should get on the security bandwagon and use SAP’s security push to drive an increase in the sales of their own products.