Modern business software suites are agile, open and flexible

The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suite juggernaut that arguably peaked at the end of the last century transformed many aspects of modern life. ERP evolution has been foundational to enabling global trade, offshoring of all types and swept away much of the previous workflow technologies used for business. It was an amazing time of business expansion, tying in with rapid advances in containerization, international sourcing, supply-chain and marketing to drive globalization.

A case could be could be made that the maturation of the European Union as a single trading block was enabled by SAP and Oracle's rapid growth during this time.

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A total solutions approach to office technology and equipment finance

The office technology sector is as competitive as ever when it comes to equipment financing. With over a dozen dedicated finance companies originating finance specific to office equipment and technology, they need to evolve their offerings in order to stay competitive.

In the past, technology companies could focus on one niche area, but now they have to dive into previously uncharted territory as end-users seek out a total solutions approach, changing the landscape of the industry and ushering in a new era in office technology solutions and financing options.

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How do companies select which business processes to automate?

Technology is the enabler of business process automation (BPA), and it can automate workflows to the point where human intervention is unnecessary. Automation can save time and money, delight customers who no longer have to wait in line for a person to assist them with a transaction, and preclude human error.

But not every business process is a good fit for automation, so it's incumbent upon companies to determine which processes are best suited to automation and which ones are best handled by humans. How do companies select which business processes to automate?

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Enterprise software and the emerging cloud landscape

The model for enterprise software deployments is evolving - elements of a traditional, customised, on-site ERP are breaking away and being used by businesses as discrete software components.

The effect of successful public companies like Salesforce.com has been to change what businesses focus their resources on. They are now often happy to adopt a standard SaaS CRM system, for example, instead of wasting resources fully customising a CRM that's in reality very similar to all their competitors. The potential savings are immense, what was once a multi-million-dollar ERP implmentation can now be purchased on a credit card, without looking foolish.

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Why isn't there a real competitor to Salesforce and Netsuite, even though their users hate using them?

The short answer is that a lot of companies fell by the wayside over the years primarily because general purpose enterprise cloud software (like CRM and ERP) is expensive to build (because of the depth of functionality required by larger companies) and even more expensive to sell to larger companies because of the longer sales cycles. This is not an industry where you can simply apply lean launch techniques and hope for any measure of success. It takes 10+ years and over $100M in investment to reach success for the average cloud enterprise company.

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The greatest contribution of SaaS

SaaS is now a fait accompli in enterprise IT, but I beleive its primary value proposition is not commonly understood. We normally think of it in terms of consumption economics - pay as you go, with the burden on the vendor to keep us subscribed - each of which is both real and valuable. However, the greatest contribution of SaaS is to free the enterprise from the tyranny of the product release model.

Anyone who has ever implemented an ERP application knows what I mean. The one thing you know for sure after having just implemented any given release of an enterprise software product is that under no circumstances will you ever implement the next one. After all, you have just spent 18 to 24 months, and up to ten times the license price of the software, to perform open heart surgery on your enterprise. Who in their right mind would want to undertake that again anytime soon?

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The business case for better software design

Although enterprise software is pervasive in business, the products and industry tend to be flat, boring, and too often devoid of human expression.

In the olden days, maybe 20 years ago, none of that mattered because software offered buyers such enormous productivity gains — beneficial economics drove entire industries to buy enterprise products such as ERP. The downsides of high implementation costs, business interruption, and poor user adoption were less important than the opportunity to gain efficiency and wear the ERP badge of honor.

Today, established enterprise software vendors can no longer afford to ignore user experience, and many large suppliers are improving their products while making them easier to implement and simpler for users to adopt.

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Should utility companies be using ERP or BSS or a combination of both?

Utility companies (including telephony, electricity, natural gas, water, and sewage) traditionally don't use existing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions for billing, with obvious exceptions to the custom modules available from the largest ERP vendors (SAP, Oracle, etc).

BSS (Business Support System) are the 'business systems' dealing with customers, and support such processes as taking orders, processing bills, and collecting payments. Combined with the 'network systems' of an OSS (Operations Support System), a BSS/OSS solution is generally implemented in utility companies instead of an ERP solution.

The main reason for this, is that most affordable ERP solutions can't handle the real-time processing of millions of customer records and thousands of operations that a BSS can routinely process and act upon.

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) finally launches a Sydney data centre

With the recent launch of the AWS Asia Pacific Sydney Region, we are now able to run a completely local cloud hosting environment.

AWS already counts 10,000 customers based in Australia and New Zealand, a substantial proportion of which are expected to move their workloads to the Sydney facility to gain better local performance or reduce regulatory risk.

Physically located at the Equinix SY3 Sydney IBX Data Center, which makes up the second APAC deployment of Amazon infrastructure (alongside the Singapore facility). It will cater for customers tempted by the cloud computing giant's scale and easy self-serve model, but restricted in their choice of provider by data sovereignty requirements.

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