I’ve been posting on the new ZDNet blog. They tell me it’s live, but there’s a glitch in the technology that is preventing it from showing up in the blog roll. You can view it here. I’m very interested in off-beat IT Services stories, so please email me (susanATitservicesadvisoryDOTcom) with any interesting ideas.
Taking a short break from Enterprise 2.0 coverage, I had to acknowledge the news on Sapient today. I received a flash alert from Sapient’s investor team that, “SAPIENT NAMES ALAN HERRICK PRESIDENT AND CEO.” The bulletin went on to explain that co-founder Jerry Greenberg had resigned. Stuart Moore, the other co-founder is still a board member, but gave up his position as co-chairman in order to allow for an independent chairman (now, Jeffrey M. Cunningham). The company also named Joseph S. Tibbetts Jr. as the new CFO, replacing Susan Cooke who was interim CFO and who also resigned today.
Reading the press release, it appears Sapient is in hot water over options-dating, I suppose. Is this the 2.0 crime du jour? Why, everybody’s doing it! Not just Silicon Valley hotshots, but now a company like Sapient, that heretofore, I believed was basically infallible.
Sheesh. I’m not sure I’m more disappointed this happened or if I didn’t know anything about it because I’ve taken my eye off the IT Services ball. Some ITSinsider! Well, the good news is Dan Farber agreed to give me a ZDNet blog on IT Services, so I hope I will be catching up fast.
I put out a number of calls on this Sapient news, and haven’t heard back from anyone yet. I talked to Sapient, but the PR woman really couldn’t tell me anything more than was in the release. The news troubles me. I once wrote a column about what makes an IT Services firm successful, and Sapient gets high marks for all my criteria. I’m sure the company will weather the storm, but when founder CEOs leave, it generally doesn’t go well. My guess is we’ll see a merger/acquisition on the horizon.
Incidentally, Jerry Greenberg is a Jersey boy. He grew up in a small town here in South Jersey not too far (or too dissimilar) from the town I live in today. He made it to Harvard out of there majoring in Economics, he then worked at Cambridge Technology Partners, and started Sapient with Stuart Moore in 1991. Moore was a Computer Science grad out of UC Berkeley. In the day, Moore led one of the first client/server implementations on Wall Street and managed one of the largest installations of Sybase.
I admired Sapient for many things… including the choice of naming Susan Cooke as interim CFO. Imagine that? A woman who can talk numbers and face the investment community.
So, we’ll see what happens. For me, it’s the end of an era.
During web 1.0, I was a skeptic and pretty vocal about it. Before my research was finished, I presented in Atlanta (12/99) when market caps were high for the digital apostles I was tracking. Most of the presentation was tongue and cheek, but is somewhat prescient looking at it today. I wrote this column for Phil Wainewright’s aspnews.com site which was also published as an op-ed in Computerworld for the user community. When the back-breaking, risky 300-page market research report on what I called the “e-services” market was published in April 2000, I joined one of these start-ups myself. You see, through the course of doing the research, I became a believer too. I fell in love with the first Internet revolution and its massive societal-changing promise. Of course, like most companies in that first run up, the start-up crashed. I felt like I, in particular, should have known better than to have fallen for such an idealistic infatuation.
I read with interest Michelle Manafy’s editorial in eContent. This is the second time I’ve heard the Soylent Green, “It’s made of people!” reference in the web 2.0 crowd. This time it gets attributed to Ross Mayfield. I know when I have said, “It’s the people, stupid.” I’m not talking about cannibalism and annihilation; I’m talking about liberation. I’m not talking about overpopulation; I’m talking about a billion Internet users– sharing and doing. Interestingly enough, the tagline for our 2000 start-up was a question– “what happens when everyone’s connected to everything?” Less death. More rebirth.
So, maybe we should start considering a different indie flick? or maybe something more mainstream, if the mission is to turn perception positive on Enterprise 2.0, eh? Manafy’s a great writer and her community is extremely important to the new office generation. For instance, I just received the best presentation (a 100-slide deck) I’ve ever seen on web 2.0 yesterday. It didn’t come from Dion Hinchcliffe; it wasn’t something I found on techcrunch or wasn’t even something I could have gotten my hands on privately as an Enterprise Irregular. It came to me from Molecular, a consulting firm part of the Isobar network of Interactive Agencies. And oh, the reason I was reading Manafy is because Shiv Singh (Avenue A|Razorfish) referred to it in his blog.
Web 2.0 inside the firewall isn’t all work and no play, though. Singh has suggested to clients that there are fun ways to use the interactive processes for “prediction markets,” which harness group intelligence. For example, if a company has six ad campaigns under consideration, they can create a space where employees can “trade shares” on the ideas. “Then execs can see the activity that happens around an idea,” he says.
While Web 2.0 may or may not live up to its press, nobody can scoff at the ability of its underlying technologies to enable some of the Internet’s founding principles. As Singh says, “Collectivism is very big.”
Referencing the slide above… Now, one film we might consider could be Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The “throw out your dead” scene, in particular, is working for me. I was chatting with Cognizant’s Malcolm Frank Friday who is not dead (“Yes you are! No I’m not!”), and he was telling me that, in fact, Bob Gett, Gordon Brooks, and few others from web 1.0 are back in the Internet or IT services game. Of course, Jerry Greenberg has found Internet religion again. So maybe the Holy Grail is attainable in web 2.0. I’m not skeptical this time ’round. And it’s really early.
Incidentally, for all ITSinsiders who haven’t heard yet. the weirdest development for those with long memories, is last week’s announcement that Jim Sims was named to EDS’ board of directors. Can someone send that cart to Dallas? 🙂
Thank you for your wine, California
Thank you for your sweet and bitter fruits
Mick and Keith might not be there, but you will be among friends. The kickoff conference for Web 2.0 for Business is definitely Dion Hinchcliffe’s New New Internet conference here on the East Coast in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. He has assembled an A-list set of speakers in web 2.0 including Michael Arrington (TechCrunch). If you (customer or vendor) are on the East Coast. DO NOT miss this conference. A first-mover event; will make it into the history books.
I had a great briefing this week with IBM’s Dan Gisolfi of its Emerging Technology Group. I was able to clear up a few things. For starters, it’s not THAT easy to create a “long tail” micro situational app. Gisolfi says, “Today, it’s extremely hard unless you’re a programmer… and unless you know Ajax, Java script, and programming languages, you’re not going to create a mash-up.” But that’s where this IBM group is headed. With their web 2.0 class of tools– mash-up makers– ultimately, the high IQ guys and gals in IBM’s key installed base accounts will be able to create their own dashboards ad hoc and provision data across departments and groups without troubling anyone from IT at all.
Gisolfi and I waxed philosophically about the cultural trends that are driving Enterprise 2.0 and we agreed about the socio-cultural underpinnings. Now here is a guy who can fit squarely in both camps– traditional IT, wearing the IBM logo, yet can hold a respectable conversation on the latest in open source, or any web 2.0 technology. We agreed the new Enterprise 2.0 wave is not about technology. The technology is evolutionary and Gisolfi recounted many examples of initiatives IBM has been involved in for years that are now hyped as web 2.0. What’s different now, however, are the attitudes that eclipse the technology. He said, “Web 2.0 is a convergence of enablers… coming together at the right time, at the same time.”
We then talked about a possible rebirth of the systems integration industry– something I found intriguing. Gisolfi said, “For the IT guys, we’re not taking away work, we’re creating a new type of work. Instead of doing integration of monolithic applications, today, you’re going to create granular software components.” He used Sarbanes-Oxley as the perfect example of the need for a customized, daily mashboard. He described using a business analyst or consultant to define the data indicators and then pass it to a software guru to render it and provision it as a mashboard.
It’s at this point, I started thinking about the sweet-margin business of the late 80s: systems integration. I checked in with Graham Kemp, who tracked the SI market in those days. Graham said, “In the late 80s, SI margins were good… in the high teens… and FM (facilities management [outsourcing]) margins were fair (low teens). As the 90s came in, both dropped.”
On EDS’ Next Big Thing blog a few days ago, I read with some interest a post resurrecting the “I” word:
For a long time, the Fellows have been talking about the movement away from the Chief Information Officer to the Chief Integration Officer. The integration of process and information flow between and across the enterprise to enable greater flexibility is where all organizations need to be headed.
And as I just wrote recently to the head of analyst relations at CSC, before all outsourcers were called outsourcers, they were systems integrators. It might be time to ditch the losing battle in the ITO market, and start putting up recruiting booths on MySpace. There may be high margin opportunity introducing the Global 2000 to Enterprise 2.0.