After spending more than 25 years building enterprise applications, and realizing that I will have probably another 25 years to work, I took some time to reflect, on how I want to spend the rest of my working years...
Reflection needs some time off, so I was lucky that my last position gave me some good time off, on this beautiful construct British HR calls the garden leave. I used my time in the garden to get some things off the bucket list. Seeing the US Olympic track and fields trials live in Eugene, was something I always wanted to do since watching them on TV as a little boy in Germany and Italy. Running a (very slow) marathon came off the list, too - and it was so much fun I ran another one (faster) and 4 half marathons during that time, too. I would never have thought 3 years ago that I could / would be a runner and enjoy running to the point of a healthy addition. Also took of a great Caribbean sail trip from St. Lucia to Grenada. Spend a lot of time with the kids, helped the USYVL as clinician and IT advisor - and most notably, avoided travel. Done enough of that.
Looking back the enterprise software industry has been very good to me - right from the start where my first internship got me to test and document SFA software. Lucky me, Kiefer & Veittinger would become the largest European CRM vendor, and having been something like employee #2, I was very lucky to be taken on the ride and help making it a great ride. And I will forever be thankful to Georg Kiefer and Klaus Veittinger for a tremendous level of trust and empowerment, that I have never seen before and later. I learnt a lot, was able to do a lot and most importantly had a lot of fun helping to build a pretty unique company. The approach to generate uniquely configured enterprise software based on standard objects, inherit an information model into this construct and only allow break points (today APIs) to customize the system - has been unparalleled so far.
And when the time came, first through a partnership and then through step wise investment, Kiefer & Veittinger became part of SAP as their first acqHRired (the term didn't exist then) company, I was blessed with luck again. Not only was I charged to lead the pre-cursor of SAP's CRM (FoCus) - but Hasso Plattner also insisted that I would be part of the product development team - and the team developed the first installments of SAP CRM with Marketing Analytics, on top of SAP BiW (how it was called then). Laying out the 5 year roadmap for SAP CRM was a great learning opportunity and till today gives me a sense of ownership in regards of SAP CRM. And I was equally lucky to later work in the Office of the Chairman, directly for Hasso Plattner and Henning Kagermann on special projects. An amazing leadership duo. The Vorstandsassistent job is a fantastic opportunity to get to know a company inside out.
I was lucky to work on very interesting projects, combining some of the business consulting skills we used as a differentiator at Kiefer & Veittinger with SAP internal projects. Can't mention too much, but e.g. verticalizing the sales force, getting marketing more consumer company style and more about perception than technology, were two of the projects that became public. But I wanted to build software again and along came Oracle, which wanted me to help build CRM applications.
Working for Oracle during the dot.com boom was a thrill. I was familiar with Silicon Valley from long stints with SAP's Lab in Foster City and then in Palo Alto - but the pace was even more frenetic. And getting the first version of the Oracle e-Business Suite out of the door in 2000 was a major accomplishment. I am still very proud of the team, that through hard work and very long hours managed to ship the OLAP and BI CRM applications before the respective OLTP apps. And soon after the first PRM product of an enterprise vendor. I learnt a lot from my then managers Mark Barrenchea and later John Wookey. Weekly meetings with Larry Ellison were a unique, challenging and exhilarating experience. I will be forever thankful for all the help, guidance, support directly and behind the scenes by Judy Sim, Charles Philips, Sergio Giacoletto and Sonny Singh. Getting a global sales force to do what is not intuitive - is a huge and fun challenge. But I wanted to build software again and along came Fair Isaac, now FICO - looking for a head of products.
Working for FICO (then Fair Isaac) was an amazing experience. I joined in time as the company was overdue to create their new platform and products for enterprise decision management, an analytical area that is still very near and dear to my heart. I am very proud of the team that managed to keep the lights on in many critical customer situations and select a new platform to build the next suite of products on. But the timelines for the new platform weren't realistic to pursue, which I was pretty clear about and that ended my short time with FICO. I am very thankful to my then boss Bernhard Nann for a lot of guidance, learning and support. And likewise to a great team where I learnt the most from Carlos Serrano-Morales and had the best operations director ever with Stachia Clancy.
So I had some time on my hand, was stuck in beautiful San Diego and took my first sabbatical. I was tired of creating, fixing and turning around enterprise software - so when SAP was looking for a Chief Application Architect in Palo Alto, a position where you had to manage no one but could work on interesting architecture projects - that looked like a perfect job to me. And a great job it was - I learnt more in the time at SAP Labs then ever in my career about technology - since for the first time I had the time to research, learn and design things - as my main job. Before anything like this was always time constraint and to a certain point a luxury. I remember very insightful conversations with Ike Nassi, Rainer Brendle, Karl-Heinz Roggenkemper, Kay van de Loo and Larry Cable. And I am very thankful to Frank Samuel for the best crash course on my SAP know-how gap of 9 years. I had the privilege to work on very exciting projects - but saw too many good ideas and concepts not finding uptake in Walldorf. Having worked on both sides of the Atlantic, that was particularly troublesome to me - and I missed building products that would make a difference in a few quarters and not - maybe - in years.
So along came NorthgateArinso, which was very interesting to me as I could learn beyond CRM not only with a new area of enterprise automation with HCM - but also, that the life as a BPO provider is different to life at an enterprise software vendor. When your weekend update has an issue Monday morning as a BPO provider, you end up loosing money by paying penalties for missed services levels by 8 AM... And a lot of credit goes to the former Arinso team that figured out to make R/3 multi-tenant and enable a powerful and cost effective BPO platform. I was lucky to have a very strong team of executives working for me, with Muhi Majzoub taking care of the UK and leading it to the start of a new ResourceLink product, with Eric Delafortrie to show me the ropes around HCM and making the euHReka product a success, two gifted managers with Christine Morris-Jones and Sam Xydias, who ensured a 0 escalation period from down under and Tony Whitehead who managed a business unit successfully on the very challenged ProIV product. It was also my first experience working with private equity and I am thankful to Dhruv Parekh as a great confidante in these terms. But NorthgateArinso wanted to de-emphasize products for the benefit of services, a risk which was there all along - so I found myself in the garden.
I know I mentioned some former colleagues here - and I know I have missed tons of great, challenging and inspiring colleagues. Management by wandering around is something I love to do and I think is essential for a product team's success. Software is build by people and you need to know them, give them time and attention, listen and learn first and foremost... so to the many unnamed former colleagues I have had in Mannheim, Bangalore, Reading, Boston, Foster City, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Redwood Shores, Herndon, Los Angeles, Geneva, Munich, Milan, Paris, Stockholm, Dubai, Singapore, San Diego, Atlanta, San Ramon, San Jose, Irvine, Brussels, Bristol, Peterborough, Hemel Hemstead, Manila, Adelaide, Sydney (and sorry to the locations I forgot) - I have not forgotten you and the many things I learnt from you.
Through my garden leave and sabbatical I realized, that maybe I don't want to go back at fixing, creating and making enterprise software successful again. There were good and interesting opportunities, but somehow I could not muster the excitement these opportunities would deserve. I knew Ray Wang from our time at Oracle and he has been coaxing me towards analyst work since a long time. I always enjoyed conversations, meetings and briefings with analysts.
All my contacts in the analyst world I talked to told me, that the toughest thing for an analyst is all the writing. And so I put myself through the a post a day routine - and you see the results of that on this blog. And while I am far away the writer I would like to be - I started to enjoy it - even having withdrawal syndrome, if I didn't post something for a day or two... And I am thankful to all the readers of this blog, all the great feedback I have received, encouragement and great criticism.
From the little I know about it - the analyst world is changing, away from the large firms, the medium size firms have disappeared or have been acquired and I wanted to be part of something, that was changing the way how analyst services are presented and consumed. So Constellation Research looked like a good fit, and I am thrilled to have started there this week, covering the basics of the enterprise software transformation that we are witnessing, with IaaS and PaaS, with forays into what makes these successful, SaaS, analytics, social, mobile and BigData.
So please follow me along the way, I look forward to hear from you and I promise I will give my best and try to make and keep it exciting and fun - as it has been so far!