So SAP finally did what many in the supply chain space had assumed would: acquired Pittsburgh based IO vendor SmartOps. Full disclosure, I worked at SmartOps in 2009 running marketing.
The news really is not so surprising, other than the acquisition actually happened! SAP and SmartOps were very close partners since 2006, a relationship that really was one where SAP was getting the milk for free from the SmartOps cow. The question became, why would SAP spend money when they were already getting all the benefits of the relationship? While all the details are not out yet, and may never be, it seems that SAP finally felt it was time to take full ownership of the SmartOps solution. The deal seems to have been driven from the HANA side of the house. Does SAP see this as a chance of getting some intelligence baked into HANA, giving that technology some teeth? The combination does hold some promise for providing real time intelligence to the supply chain process.
The combination, if management properly, could spell real trouble for companies that are working in the S&OP and Demand Sensing areas, think of Kinaxis, SteelWedge, Terra Technologies, Logility and the usual suspects such as JDA. The advantage for SAP is that they have worked so closely with SmartOps for so many years that the integration should be seamless….literally. The question becomes, can SAP nurture and give this new combination the necessary love and attention to truly get the most out of it? Or will SmartOps and their value just fade into the back rooms of SAP?
Yesterday, Sony, remember them…finally came out to discuss their new gaming console – PS4. Of course they never showed the actual console, but did show off the controller, see below. 7 years after the last version of the venerable gaming platform, Sony looks to re-establish itself as a power in home entertainment. About time. But will it be enough? Something tells me that Sony has a great chance to try and lay claim to the next greater technological frontier – the television. Unfortunately, from the reports I have been reading it sounds as if Sony is going to fall short. Potentially miss a huge opportunity.
A bit better than an Atari controller
The television remains a bit stuck in the dark ages. Yes more are web enabled. However, you still interact with an old fashion remote control, you cannot send content to devices (unless you plug in add on devices), you do not have good search for content but it remains one of the pillars of our entertainment universe. One device that makes that device a bit more modern are the gaming consoles, cable boxes and other accoutrements. However these remain a jumble of different functions and devices. Game consoles, DVRs, cable boxes, smart blu-ray players…and the list goes on. But the king, at least the device that should be the king, was the game console. It had built in interactions – menus, joystick and qwerty keyboards – could get you to the web, allowed you to play games (entertain yourself and your friends), some have video capabilities (Xbox kinect) or mimic your movements (Playstation move). Sony had established themselves as the power player when the rolled out their PS family. Microsoft came in hard with the XBox and eventually we saw Nintendo reemerge with the Wii.
Since those heady days for those players, the technology and entertainment landscape has changed…drastically. The tablets, smartphones, iTunes, apps have all changed the entertainment space. Consumers are drawn to mobile gaming apps – Angry Bird or SongPop to name two. These tend to be cheaper and accessible on your mobile device. Of course franchises such as Madden remain powerhouses for the gaming consoles. But that cannot be their only means to ROI. Gaming consoles need to go after what make the mobile world so attractive – content that goes where you need. Sony should look to hard wire the likes of Netflix or partnering with iTunes or Amazon for a content partner – Sony provides the hardware and platform, these other players provide the content. Maybe even partner with Google to get Google + hardwired into the social aspect of the console and allow YouTube to be a channel on the console.
I know that all these services can be accessed at your television, but they all remain difficult to configure and leverage in their current forms. Sony had a chance to take a big step towards re-establishing themselves as the king of the television. Granted, they might have tried to do these behind the scene only to be shunned by the aforementioned players. We might never know. But as it is constituted, the PS4 should do okay. Gamers will want to get their hands on the device, but they will continue to be relegated to a back seat when it comes to the home technology landscape.
Big Data…it is everywhere…well what would you expect from something titled BIG! It must be massive, all over the place, surrounding us. Big Data also reminds me of the carpetbagger character in Outlaw Josey Wales when asked about his “product” –
Josey Wales: Works wonders on just about everything, eh?
Carpetbagger: It can do most anything.
We are constantly inundated with “Big Data” and the promise of it being able to do “most anything.” And there is some truth to that. But the reality is that, to quote another Western themed saying – there are gold in them hills. We must realize that the hills represent the data, the gold is the value…the nuggets of value we are all looking to gain. And similar to prospecting, those who found the gold faster than the next person tended to walk away with more value – a better ROI. Of course we know who made the most money, those providing the services for those prospectors.
As we keep speaking of data, we need to think about data differently and not just as “Big Data.” Data can do most anything, but it is the type of data can do what we need it to do:
- Fast Data – There are some industries and needs that are more concerned with identifying patterns in data – quickly. Think of high velocity financial trading. The data that is being proceed has less value as time goes on, what counts is to be able to identify a fraudulent trade at the instant that it occurs. This type of data,while massive, is all about getting pattern recognition done at the blink of an eye. But that historical data is not incredibly valuable.
- Predictive Data – Think of the mountains of historic data that can mined at one’s leisure – to do better planning and forecasting. Now I realize that historical data does not predict the future…but we need to start with something to create a plan and forecast. This is where this type of data comes into play. This is where the amount of historic data has become a massive mountain, with some gold in them hills. Speed is not of the essence here but the ability to gather massive qualities of data is what is key, and being able to draw correlations and relationships amongst that data.
So when a marketer says that big data will help them sell one more item X or if a fraud prevention professional talks of big data helping identify crooks, ask what type of big data they are looking for. All data is not the same.
Such a sweet Disney character!
For those of you who are living in the New England area you are well aware that we are in the middle of what is being deemed a major weather event. Actually most living in the United States have been subject to meteorologists’ happy place – massive weather to report on. By some models, Massachusetts might get up to 3 feet in some locations. Ugh. But this is not a piece ranting about the weather…but what I think this storm is a good lesson in is irrational behavior by consumers.
What is always amazing to me is how consumers react once they hear snow storm – make a mad dash for the grocery story and stock up on eggs, bread, water, milk, cured meats and of course alcohol. Really? Are we planning some massive French Toast and wine party? I realize that the threat of a power outage is real so you do want some food on hand – but last I checked milk wouldn’t keep very well without refrigeration. I have heard reports of some grocery stores being sold out of salad and mushrooms. Really? I also know that some keep harking back to the blizzard of 1978 that had some trapped in their homes for days. So one cannot prepare enough!
However is this really rational? It is 2013. We have been aware of the storm for at least a week. Local, state and federal resources are already preparing. At a basic level, will the roads be shut down for days? I highly doubt it. Could we lose power for a few days, of course, but not sure how having enough bread and milk for a small school district solves that issue. What this shows is that as consumers we are not always rational.
A run on generators, snow shovels, blankets, batteries to name a few makes sense. But salad and mushrooms? How does that make any sense?
As you try to determine your customers’ demand and you have a major event that might drive consumption, be aware that as consumers we are not always rational!