Like most, I have watched many a “One more thing” announcement by Steve Jobs. While it made many run out and line up for blocks when Apple introduced that shiny new thing, it inspired the author in me to write about the birth of new products and initiatives. In my books, I have written about how the Boeing 787, Corning’s Gorilla Glass, Facebook’s breakthrough Prineville data center, Lexmark’s striking Genesis printer and how many other products were conceived and launched. It’s invigorating to talk to designers, engineers and marketers about form/factors, UX, manufacturing, packaging, launch nuances.
A frustration of mine has been there has not been major, “moonshot” launches in enterprise world. Lots of tactical announcements and technical releases, but nothing that captured my imagination enough to profile in a long chapter.
Then suddenly, in the last 5 months, I have witnessed three game changing events.
Larry Ellison, this week as Oracle launched 24+ new PaaS and IaaS products, summarized the sea change in the industry “It’s remarkable that we are not competing with IBM and SAP these days. Our new competition is Amazon, Salesforce and Workday. Microsoft is the only traditional competitor we see”. Even more startling – he showed a slide where Oracle’s data centers support 700 petabytes of storage and 33 billion transactions a day. Hello, this is a software company? As I told Fortune magazine “Oracle has the biggest number of (SKUs) features in the cloud world. Not all of them sell well, and some aren’t the best, but they are the broadest. No question.”
Dr. Hasso Plattner, ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange in February to announce SAP’s next-gen S/4 with new elements like Fiori, HANA and private clouds. Then, for effect, telling a journalist "If this doesn’t work, we’re dead. Flat-out dead.”
Satya Nadella in his keynote at Microsoft Convergence in March barely mentioning “ERP” at a conference built around the Dynamics family. Instead he showcased “One Microsoft” – the world of Azure machine learning, Surface Hubs, Skype telephony, Cortana personal assistants, and cloud based Office 365 – and how they reshape ERP, CRM and other processes. In an org change last week, Microsoft continued what it is calling the “mainstreaming” of Dynamics.
The S/4 launch has given me a chance to write a new book over the last few weeks. It has given me a chance to also revisit other enterprise software product launches over the last two decades.
Now Larry and Satya have given me even more ideas for other books. It is an exciting time for enterprise technology. Trust me, we have waited for this for many years now but when it rains it pours. Enjoy the bounty.