SAP Archiving at Australia Post

Last August at the SAUG Summit, the team at Australia Post presented on their implementation of SAP Document Access by Open Text.

Phil and the team at Australia Post are one of my favourite clients to work with - you can check out Phil's SlideShare Presentation here:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 5:06 PM, ,

Predictable Irrationality If You Build What They Ask For, They Will Not Come

Traditional approaches to defining and deploying enterprise software fail to account for that fact that people are influenced by their environment, emotions, shortsightedness, and other forms of irrationality. How do we get past the predictable irrationality of people to redefine the problem and create experiences that people will embrace?

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:02 PM, ,

Making business alliances work

I promised back in a May blog to write about "the pitfalls of alliances".

First of all, there is always a lot of debate over terminology in this area, but to be clear I think these factors apply to both joint ventures, business alliances and strategic alliances.

I thought a cool definition of an alliance was by Rosabeth Moss Kanter in an HBR article: Alliances are the corporate equivalent of "friends with benefits." The partners combine forces to achieve strategic goals of their own without getting married, being engaged, or dating exclusively.

Secondly, I'm pretty sure there are entire semesters devoted to this and related topics at business schools around the world, so this blog is by no means exhaustive - just my two cents on the topic. :-)

My personal views as to why alliances fail are as follows:
  1. The business model wasn't clear;
  2. There wasn't a shared plan & measurement;
  3. There wasn't a clear enough value proposition for customers;
  4. Senior Management didn't make a commitment to making the partnership work; and
  5. The people factor.
Trying to get a square peg in a round hole is simply a lesson in futility, so setting out with a partnership or alliance without clarity on the business model is going to end in a world of hurt.

A good article on the "why are we doing this and what is the best structure for us to achieve our objective" is the Booz Allen Hamilton article here. In The Art of Profitability the issue of business model design is simplified into easy to understand models. And of course, there are tonnes of assets online including at McKinsey's wesbite and HBR.

With any business endeavour - if you want to get from A, to B, to C - you've got to have a plan. And for a plan to work, you've got to ensure everyone with something at stake is involved.

Sounds obvious, right?

What's amazing is how hard it is to get 'busy people' to commit to joint planning to put on paper "here's what I want, here's what you want, and here's how we're going to win together".

Planning by itself, however, isn't going far enough. As an Open Texter said in his blog "if you don't keep score then you are only practicing" - a statement Lou Gerstner echoed with "people respect what you inspect".

There are some really good tools out there to make both the planning & measurement easy. Checkout and Channel Dynamics for ideas.

To point #2 - a good example of 1+ 1 = 3 is how Open Text has selected it's strategic partners, Microsoft and SAP. In both cases, the partner is a leader in a segment (Knowledge Worker vs Enterprise Processes), lacks the value that Open Text provides (Enterprise Content Management) and customers are clear on why they need the combined solution.

With any endeavour, if senior management isn't committed to the deal, no one is going to get behind the partnership. Jack Welch makes this point in Winning where he advises managers have to become cheerleaders for the new project.

Finally, the people factor. Like all relationships, you've got to work at it. Advice given to me a long time ago by a great boss & mentor was that "people deal with people". I think all too often people come to the party with their point of view and their agenda forgetting that the other party could be doing that as well.

Image by Mateusz Stachowski

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:04 AM, ,

Fortune Magazine Ranks Open Text 15th Among World’s Fastest-Growing Companies

When I joined Open Text in May '09, one of the key things that attracted me was their growth prospects. Recently those growth prospects were recognised with Open Text earning a spot on Fortune's 2009 list of the 100 Fastest-Growing Companies.

Interestingly, one of the comments of the article is whether the company's growth prospects will continue. If you spent a week with me meeting customers, you'd not question their potential for growth. Astutely, the company is increasing it's investment in the Asia-Pacific-Japan (APJ) markets that have the highest growth prospects.

From the press release:
Open Text ™ Corporation (NASDAQ: OTEX, TSX: OTC), a global leader in Enterprise Content Management (ECM), has earned a spot on Fortune’s 2009 List of the 100 Fastest-Growing Companies, ranking 15th overall and 6th on the list’s breakdown of fastest-growing tech companies.

Companies on the list, described by Fortune as “the world’s supercharged performers,” are ranked based on an analysis of profit and revenue growth rate and total return over a three-year period. To qualify, each company must be traded on a major U.S. stock exchange, have a minimum market capitalization of $250 million and have revenue of at least $50 million. Open Text realized a three-year profit increase of 132 percent and revenue growth of 27 percent for the same time period.

Open Text is the world’s largest independent provider of ECM software. The world’s largest corporations and government agencies depend on Open Text’s solutions to manage a wide range of information -- documents, vital records, Web content, digital media and email – as well as related business processes and employee collaboration.

“We’re proud to be included in Fortune’s ranking,” said John Shackleton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Open Text. “ECM has continued to grow as a strategic requirement in global organizations. We have worked over the last few years to build our global leadership in ECM and offer the latest solutions that help customers use the power of their content to improve their business.”

Image by Ivan Petrov


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:58 AM, ,

SAP Value Engineering

As part of my recent travels to Ontario, I spent three days with the Open Text APJ SAP team and some smart guys (Bill & Kris) at Open Text's head-office learning the in's and out's of SAP's Value Engineering process, specifically how it pertains to Open Text's solutions for SAP.

SAP Value Engineering is the process of looking at the value lifecycle for a company's IT investments from discovery to optimization:
During the training, our focus was on the Value Discovery process - essentially building the business case.

Now, for the cynics out there, you'll be chuckling away wondering: what sane customer would put any value on an IT vendor's business case?

Having gone through this process and having spent years working in the SAP ecosystem, I can tell you the key reason customers value this process is not solely for the initial business case itself - although that is quite value.

What is truly valuable is gaining a thorough understanding of what you need to deliver in order to generate value from an investment. This insight is equally useful for both parties and helps create a partnership on the road to actually realising that value.

The alternative process is that an organisation sets their budget for a project, engages vendors, picks the lowest price offer and delivers a project that could be on-time and on-budget... but totally misses the opportunity to deliver spectacular business transformation and returns because the parties involved don't really understand where the opportunity was.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:12 AM, ,

Ontario, Canada

Just recently I traveled over to Ontario, Canada to attend Open Text's annual sales kick-off and training on the SAP Value Engineering process and tools.

This was my first trip to Toronto (although I'd been over to Ottawa before) and luckily I did get some chances to look around despite the work most days.

Firstly, where to stay: the company put us up in the Sheraton Center Toronto - it's okay but not my pick if it were my money as it's a typical North American Sheraton with not much character. Definitely corporate, not holiday material.

One of the evening activities Open Text arranged was at Polson Pier. As you'd have guessed, I was quite partial to the Go-Karts. :-)

Well worth a visit is CN Tower. The 30 minute queue to get up the tower on a Saturday was a bit painful but we were soon on our way up. The lift has a glass section which was not bad going up, but on the way down I was a little nervous - the tower is really quite high! Compared to Sydney Tower whose observation deck is at 250 m, CN Tower's is at 325m.

We chickened out and didn't go to the Skypod level up at 450m after looking at the additional 30 minute queue... and the incident with the kids on the mesh separating us from the 325m drop (I freaked out a little bit!).

We then headed over to Open Text's corporate head office in Waterloo (which is about 1hr 30min drive from Toronto), via Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls isn't what I expected. It was a LOT smaller than I had imagined. Perhaps we missed a good opportunity to have gone down to the base of the falls either by foot or by boat? I'm sure the perspective from down there would have been significantly different.

The drive from Niagara to Waterloo was punctuated with flooding on the QEW which meant a good 4-5hrs in the car. Not fun at all! Still, we got to Waterloo okay and the trip was worth it.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:53 AM, ,

SAP accounces recipients of the Pinnacle Awards 2009

On May 12th, SAP announced the recipients of the Pinnacle Awards 2009 for partner excellence.

I'm proud that the efforts of the Adobe Asia Pacific team in 2008, were recognised in Adobe winning "Regional Software Solutions Partner of the Year - APJ".

Whilst I'm no longer with Adobe, having left on Jan 31st 2009, I had the opportunity to lead the SAP sales business for Adobe in Asia Pacific during that period and I can tell you that the teams at SAP and Adobe in each office locally, regionally and globally pulled together to execute seamlessly.

A few shout-outs I'd like to make for those that deserve thanks for that award:

Getting two software companies to work together successfully isn't as easy as it would seem on paper. In fact, any alliance will be fraught with challenges from both within and externally. I'll take a crack at the topic of "the pitfalls of alliances" in my next blog.

Having now joined Open Text on May 1 2009, I'm looking forward to the challenge of winning that award again next year. :-)

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:06 AM, ,

I've joined Open Text

The 1st of May was my first day in the employment of Open Text.

Open Text is the largest independent software company providing enterprise content management (ECM) software solutions, where I'll be helping grow the SAP solutions sales across Australia & New Zealand.

Why Open Text?
As Jack Welch says in Winning, an organisation that is winning energises everyone that is part of it and at present, Open Text is winning.

I believe there are some core reasons for this including:
  1. The ECM market generally is growing;
  2. They provide specific value that is sought during this current recession cycle;
  3. The products are class leading; and
  4. The company's culture.
Drilling down further to each of these points, to the point that timing is everything as reported in Global ECM market to hit $US10.45B by 2015, "the Global content management software market is projected to cross $US10.4 billion by 2015, with Asia-Pacific representing the fastest growing market, according to a new report from Global Industry Analysts, Inc., (GIA)". Such enterprise-content-management software has assumed a growing importance in recent years as companies use ECM software to adhere to tough new compliance laws, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Bucking the trend during the GFC as the the WSJ article Open Text 2Q Defies Odds; Is It Sustainable? highlights: "Many of the world's largest software companies are cutting forecasts, slashing jobs and restructuring operations as the global recession crimps sales, but Open Text Corp. soldiers on." I attribute this to them providing software that helps companies improve cash flow and operational efficiencies - what COO or CFO wouldn't welcome a sales call from a software company who could help them do that?

To the point of class-leading products, the simplest evidence of this is the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management (source: Gartner, September 2008). You can read the report at the link provided to better understand the quadrant, but simplistically, the higher and further to the right an organisation is in the chart, the better the ranking.

Finally, looking at the company's culture - in particular the APJ team - as I've discussed in
Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?, it's super-critical for the team to be cohesive in order to execute flawlessly. In my first days spent with the team I can honestly say that I have respect for all of them and the skills, experience and passion they bring to the business.

Aside from why the company is winning, another key factor for me personally was to be part of the key business at an organisation. I've found most organisations will leverage the Pareto principle in their investments - they'll focus on the 20% that generates the 80% of returns. Unlike my time with Adobe, the enterprise software market is where Open Text focus and the the line of business I'll be part of is a more significant % of their business than what I was driving at Adobe.

How did I get here?
I took the advice of Meiron Lees (whom I last spoke about in Optimism & Staying focused), specifically: putting my energy into the outcome I wanted in order to avoid distractions. Early on in my job search, the hiring managers at Open Text outlined the great opportunity I've written about above and I decided this is the organisation I wanted to focus my efforts on.

Yes of course I looked at other options, but how else would I have satisfied myself this was the right choice?

In addition to the team at Open Text's case, I believed they had needs that my skills best served. The article Tip for job hunters: build your network and research who you are meeting makes this case pretty clearly: "Don't look for a job - search for a need."

The other point this article highlights is that it was from my existing network that my conversations started with Open Text - I've known the managers there for years, in one case for over 6 years. The difference in the interview process this knowledge makes is quite valuable. Their knowledge of my skills and accomplishments helped my case and my knowledge of their style and needs helped me determine I could be successful there.

PS - just as we did when I left Adobe, we celebrated this occasion by cracking open a bottle of Bollinger's 1997 La Grande Annee - the bottle Adobe gave me in fact !

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posted by Lee Gale @ 6:05 PM, ,