Startups– don’t you just luv’m?

This is a post for Moms and Dads, Aunts and Uncles who consult.

I’ve been around start-ups for several years. I’ve advised them, I’ve watched them, and I’ve even joined a few start-ups. I’ve come to the conclusion that start-ups are like toddlers. 1. They misbehave. 2. They say “no!” 3. They get into things that are dangerous for their health. 4. I’ve even seen the occasional tantrum. On the other hand, 1. They’re adorable! 2. Their enthusiam is contagious. 3. They make you smile. 4. You want to pick them up and kiss and hug them.

Not all startups make it, but the ones with passion and unbridled energy are the ones that add color and vitality to your career experience.

It was a graveyard smash!

I finally got a peek at the Monster Mash-up maker Teqlo today. Jeff Nolan, whom many of you should know as the originator of the Enterprise Irregulars, joined Teqlo this year as CEO, leaving enterprise giant SAP. I’m sure all the Irregulars will be blogging about the demo today, but I thought I’d throw in my two cents.

I’ve written about mashups before, and I have to say, the Teqlo product is pretty impressive. (And I do mean pretty. I liked the user interface.) Jeff’s example made it look easy to create your own customized application using a few Google apps and widgets and some data he collected from various web-based apps.

Because I have an IT services heritage, I was interested in his plan to attract SIs and resellers in Q407. Teqlo is made-to-order for SIs. Integrators have the deep process knowledge of their clients’ businesses and enough tech competence to deliver customized solutions. These mashup makers like Teqlo may be the killer un-enterprise app of the next decade.

Teqlo is initially focused on the SMB market. Jeff commented that there are too many challenges (security, compliance, etc.) to target large enterprises today and that IT is somewhat threatened by mashing up services anyway. His pricing was really reasonable too– a small business could even get started with Teqlo for free, but they’d have to see some ads.

Also on the mashup front, I heard from IBM today who already has a plan for its mashup maker QEDWiki to integrate with Yahoo Pipes.

Reality e2.0. Let the hype-busting begin.

I’ve been busy converting early access trial users to customers for my e2.0 client, Itensil. I feel sort of like a 21st century Lewis and Clark, where I’m charting new territory. A lot of the discussion to date about adoption in the enterprise has made liberal use of the future tense. The conversation usually involves how web 2.0 “will” be adopted and how, sometimes when. I’d like to bring that discussion into the present tense. The good news is the feedback we’re getting is validating what those of us who’ve been evangelizing in the sector have been predicting.

The vast majority of early access trial users at Itensil have been user departments, not IT departments. We ask them to describe their basic problem they’re trying to solve. These are some of their answers:

  • XYZ has offices spread all over the world that often work together. We need a new toolset to make this interaction simpler
  • We have a number of undocumented and unmanaged processes within the organization which require input from various teams. These cross multiple areas of the company from marketing to HR.
  • We have multi-state annual direct-mail campaign stretching over 5 months.

  • Manage a team of 25 shift and day working staff across multiple sites. Struggle with effort coordination and communication.
  • We are a small but rapidly growing third party warehousing/logistics company with 5 facilities around the globe and roughly 50 internal employees and 700 external customer employees. Being a third party warehouse/logistics company involves a huge degree of collaboration as we not only have to work together as a team within (across our 5 separate facilities) but we are acting as a direct partner of our customer’s business and need to tightly collaborate with them (roughly 35 brands) scheduling their execution. The big challenge we experience is having a group of people scattered physically around the world (easily 30 locations) be able to efficiently work together with maximum visibility so that everyone always knows what’s going on.

Although it’s still early days for Itensil, we’ve received hundreds of inquiries along these lines. Itensil is a small start-up that hasn’t really started a broad marketing initiative. We’ve tapped into user demand from the blogosphere. I’m sure if Itensil is experiencing this level of interest, other firms in the category must be swamped with the here and now of enterprise 2.0 adoption. So, perhaps, the revolution has turned into an expedition for those of us in the rivers and valleys of delivering on the promise of web 2.0 in the enterprise.

Feel free to share your experiences.

New Media Metrics

I read with interest Chris Koch’s blog post yesterday, “Web 2.0: a Community in Denial.” Chris is a longtime writer/editor at CIO Magazine. You can read his thoughts yourself, but his basic argument is social networks are not delivering any real benefits to businesses or business users. I brought attention to Chris’s post in one of the communities I belong to: The Social Media Club. Some of the community members commented on Chris’s post, but what I found so ironic is the very act of discussing and evaluating his post in a community is proof of social media in action. There is even value in understanding Chris’s ignorance of the value of social networking. I belong to a few communities and wholly credit my relationships– mostly digital– with tremendous strides in my understanding of this sector and new opportunities for my business. I’ve seen first-hand proof of companies who are implementing web 2.0 solutions for their businesses reaping the value in enhanced collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

It’s what a few of the enterprise 2.0 evangelists have been saying for a long time: it’s not about the technology or the platform, it’s about the people and the relationships. In the new era of Enterprise 2.0, social networks are delivering a new metric– I’m calling it “Relationship Equity.” Depending on how you behave and contribute to a community, you accumulate relationship equity points. These points can be stock-piled or traded for strategic gains opportunistically.

In other words, the 60 million+ of us who are blogging and joining communities to share our experiences and insights are all part of a new generation of social crusaders. We’re an army of “get-its.” It concerns me that an IT voice such as CIO magazine would proliferate such a negative spin on the benefits of web 2.0 (ironically though a blog), but not too much. The numbers are in our favor.

Boothby’s Buzzometer…

I love this. Rod Boothby is running a poll on his web site on the leading enterprise 2.0 tools. Of course, the data collected won’t be statistically significant, but it’s interesting to see who’s winning the popularity vote. Please vote. The more votes collected, the more interesting the results. If you’re one of these vendors, please refrain from nominating yourself (a lot).

ERP Celebrity Gossip

Happy New Year All– I’ve taken a brief blogging hiatus, but now I’m back. Yesterday, I received my invite to attend one of the scheduled Sapphire events and thought I’d better get up to speed on SAP.

I was flipping the pages of a recent Forbes issue and saw this titillating brief: “How to Succeed in Business.” (The article is short, so I’ll post it here because you have to pay for it at Forbes.com if you’re not a subscriber.)

From Forbes, January 8, 2007:

Speculation’s swirling in Silicon Valley over who’s in the line of succession at SAP (nyse: SAPnews people ), the third-largest software company worldwide. Current Chief Henning Kagermann’s contract expires at the end of 2007. Per SAP policy, Kagermann has to say by April whether he’ll stay or go. Bets are on a departure. Insiders say the former physics professor has told SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner he won’t renew. Kagermann has two presidents jockeying for his position–and you don’t want to be caught between them.

Leo Apotheker, 53, runs sales, marketing and operations from SAP’s base in Walldorf, Germany. The German-born, no-nonsense executive helped ensure SAP’s 6.5% annual sales growth the past five years.

Apotheker’s competition is Shai Agassi, who runs technology strategy and development out of Palo Alto, Calif. At age 7 the Israeli was programming on punch cards. In 2001, at 32, he sold his software firm TopTier to SAP for $400 million. A year later he joined SAP’s executive board, the youngest member by more than a decade and the only non-German.

The two contenders have been subtly trying to trip each other in the race to the top. One former strategist for SAP says Apotheker, in executive meetings, has been frequently lamenting the pace of technology development and tells his best salespeople to let Kagermann know when the software isn’t good enough to sell (a sure shot against Agassi’s efforts). Agassi is rumored to be including Kagermann on upbeat progress e-mails to his staff, a change from the past. Insiders say Apotheker will win. If so, Agassi would be ripe for poaching, says tech headhunter Mel D. Connet.

My question for SAP fans (and foes) is if, in fact, either two of these execs are the finalists for Kagermann’s succession, how will the global company change under the new leadership? Those of you who are familiar with the personalities of these two individuals– what philosophical differences do they bring to the helm that may change the culture or strategic direction for SAP?