Business & Technology Nexus

Dave Stephens on technology and business trends

Archive for November 2006

Legacy PO’s, Coupa Blog

Vendors of Procurement transactional software sit in a unique position. Once we complete a sale we collect a PO from the very system we will be replacing. It’s a little odd, but always satisfying. :)

On another front, I’m pleased to report we have managed to get the Coupa blog up and running. I admit I’m a WordPress snob but we’re trying Mephisto. We’ll see how long that lasts. You can find it at http://blog.coupa.com – I’m especially excited about a video blog series Coupa co-founder Noah Eisner is producing.

-Dave

Written by Dave Stephens

11/30/06 9:34 PM at 9:34 pm

Posted in Coupa

Wii – Lessons for Enterprise Software Companies

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I reconnected with an old friend recently. He and I were buddies for ages – from early elementary school through college. Growing up in suburbia, we were deep into video games. So naturally, I wanted to know his thoughts on one of the most important questions facing me this Christmas season: PS/3 or Wii?

I went into the exchange expecting affirmation of my first thought – a shiny new PS/3. It sure is easy to be seduced by the concept of a home media hub. One single device for next-generation movie-watching, gaming, streaming music, etc. And the graphics PS/3 sports are just awesome. (Hmm, maybe I will get one despite what I’m about to say.)

But somehow the Wii, with an entry point less than 1/2 of PS/3, seems to be gathering momentum. And this seems to go beyond the crucial fact that the Wii was available in larger quantities. It seems to center around the user interaction model for games.

I could give you a long, drawn out analysis to strengthen my case that Nintendo’s attack vector with Wii holds some wisdom for enterprise software companies. But I’ll skip it because it would be boring – and go straight for the “lessons” I see:

1) Dedicated Device – the Wii doesn’t pretend to be a hub for anything but gaming. And people seem to be okay with this. Sometimes broadening a solution can lead to growing the size of the market. But perhaps not in this case.

-> Enterprise software should solve a specific problem for a specific user. And the more specific, the better. Why do you think Oracle is acquiring enterprise application companies with vertical industry expertise?

2) Innovate in the “core” – the Wii seems to have re-invented the tactile interface for gaming, allowing for a gaming experience perceived as more “new” and “fresh”

-> Enterprise software companies seem to view application “research and development” as adding more and more features (often at a snail’s pace), endlessly complicating the user experience. This isn’t innovation – this is plaque whose build-up eventually kills the platform. Companies would be far better off investing in truly new user interaction models that change the nature of an employee’s connection with the system.

3) Don’t keep up with the Jones’ – The Wii opted out of an emerging high-powered graphics war with other gaming systems.

-> Enterprise software companies should resist following the herd. Playing catch-up on features for a limited use market segment while the price of entry is too high can be a poor way to optimize your prospective revenue.

Add your own “lessons” and comments.. And by all means, tell me how much you paid for your Wii or PS/3 on eBay! :)

Written by Dave Stephens

11/20/06 9:05 PM at 9:05 pm

Posted in Opinion

Freshly Baked Coupa Release 3

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The Coupa Team is happy to share Coupa eProcurement Release 3. It’s freshly baked and still warm over on Sourceforge. Samplers always welcome…

The release contains functional additions such as Self-service Receiving and Requester-Initiated New Supplier Requests. We’ve also included User Interface Improvements: new button styling, calendar widget, table headers and paging. Finally, we’ve upgraded Ferret (search engine) from 0.9 -> 0.10.

Btw, we’ll be launching a Coupa blog shortly. And once it’s launched you’ll be able to find new release commentary and a lot of the Coupa-centric news I’ve “snuck in here” previously.

We’ve got a heckuva backlog on stuff to share. So stay tuned.

Written by Dave Stephens

11/16/06 1:55 PM at 1:55 pm

Posted in Coupa, Opinion, Technology

How Is Zune Faring Against the iPod?

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I’m sneaky. For the last few years whenever I’ve wanted to know what was hot in Consumer Electronics off I went to Amazon.com. I click my way to their handy-dandy “Top Sellers” feature and immediately get a sense for what’s moving.

So yesterday, I went to see how many Zune were “Zuning” off the digital shelves. And the answer was, not very many at all. It wasn’t in the top 200…

But today, now that ‘Zunes are shippable’, the story is a little different. It’s around 7:43pm on 11/14/06, and here are the MP3 Players “Top Sellers”

1. Apple 30Gb iPod video Black

2. Apple 2Gb iPod Nano Silver

3. Apple 80Gb iPod video Black

4. SanDisk Sansa e250 2Gb

5. Zune 30Gb Digital Media Player (Black)
6. Apple 4Gb iPod Nano Pink

7. Apple 1Gb Shuffle Metal

8. Apple 8Gb Nano Black

9. Apple 30Gb iPod video White

10. SanDisk Sansa M240 1Gb (Silver)

Net is Apple holds 7 of the top 10 best sellers, but Microsoft did make the Top 10, which some folks will be pretty surprised by. The reviews on Amazon to date are not kind, so we’ll see if the Zune can hold on to some decent sales volume. I suspect they will.

Another interesting tidbit is that people (at this date and time) are not liking white as much. Both the 80Gb Apple iPod and the 30Gb Zune in white failed to make the top 20. But these lists are updated hourly – it could be that color preference is a lot different during morning & evening. I’ll gather some more data and share it if I find anything interesting.

Written by Dave Stephens

11/14/06 8:06 PM at 8:06 pm

Posted in Opinion

A Modest Suggestion for Microsoft

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I was at peace reflecting on Oracle’s chop-block of Red Hat… But then Microsoft and Novell had to go and spoil the mood by getting into bed together.

A lot of the commentary has compared the Novell deal as similar to Microsoft’s support of a failing and flailing Apple (boy does that seem like a long time ago!). But this sure seems different to me.

There’s nothing like a major announcement full of intent, press releases, and the vacuum of any real accomplishments to get your mind racing. Where could the partnership go? What is it’s true aim?

After all, why should Microsoft try and bolster the SUSE derivative? Conceivably, and predictably, Microsoft could share device compatibility information in a clever way and in so doing bolster SUSE in the US market. Doing so would undercut Red Hat (and by extension Oracle), as long as those pesky intellectual property barriers are properly erected.

Oh Linus, is this what victory looks like? After all, you’ve done it, you’ve gone w-a-y mainstream.

All that’s left is my modest suggestion for Microsoft. Replace the Windows kernel with Linux. There’s about a million different reasons why this is very, very unlikely (and they are all devices that need drivers). But what if it did? Couldn’t Microsoft claim to be more “open” than Apple. Couldn’t they ride the open source movement with their proprietary, monopolistic shell of a user interface?

But then again, when you are running as far ahead as Microsoft is, sometimes it’s better to go slow…

Written by Dave Stephens

11/6/06 4:20 PM at 4:20 pm

Posted in IT

IBM NTP IP (Patent Pending)

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Upon hearing IBM had filed suit against Amazon.com for patent infringement I wrote up a short, sarcastic note that I ended up scrapping. Because who am I to judge whether IBM is actually something more than a “software patent pirate?” A snippet of the flame/post read something like this:

ZDNet reports “the patents deal with intellectual property issues ranging from advertising to hyperlink technology to electronic catalogues.” In a related development, I’ve decided to sue Safeway for laying out their parking lot in an efficient manner. After all, a friend of mine “invented” that back in the 80’s and licensed it to my high school (or at least the guy re-painting the high school parking lot)—

And now today’s news – NTP has chosen Palm as its next victim. Grrr.. Of course NTP has no true intention of competing in the PDA or mobile device market. Any more than IBM wants to become the next Amazon.

Written by Dave Stephens

11/6/06 2:23 PM at 2:23 pm

Posted in Opinion