Review 2014: Top 10 business applications stories of 2014

This year’s top 10 business applications stories show an increasing corporate IT appetite for better collaboration between organisations

This year’s top 10 business applications stories show an increasing corporate IT appetite for better collaboration in and between organisations and their suppliers, and a continued engagement with the cloud paradigm. 

Companies and organisations are trying hard to transcend email, and its "reply to all" mode of pseudo-communication. 

SAP seems determined to be a consistent strategic partner with its customers, as illustrated by its long-established relationship with Unilever. SAP and Oracle figure, inevitably, as the business applications giants with which user organisations contend.

The strategy for SAP’s Success Factors attracted reader interest, as did Oracle’s applications support "time bomb". But the deployment of institute of financial services systems and an account of Infor’s cloud-centric strategy also drew reader traffic.

1. No more email? Why companies are turning to collaboration technology

Computer Weekly’s premium content editor Bill Goodwin rounds up a CW500 Club meeting on better collaborative working and engaging the soul at work. Testimony from Virgin Media, City & Guilds and the BBC on unified communications.

2. Unilever puts SAP at the captain’s table

How Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company, works hand in glove with SAP in “speeding up its growth”, according to senior executives at the two firms.

Unilever is one of 25 global customers with which SAP works on a “co-innovation” partnership basis, says Franck Cohen, president EMEA at SAP.

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Former Unilever CIO Willem Eelman, who transitioned from the finance function to the chief information role he held for four years, says the company has been a “long-term customer of SAP, but it had been a fragmented presence [until recent years]”.

3. Businesses face Oracle applications support time bomb

Computer Weekly’s managing editor, Cliff Saran, reported in April on how organisations still running Oracle E-Business Suite release 11.x have less than a year to move to the 12.x release. Many have yet to start their migration project. Oracle has said that, while its Sustaining Support service for Oracle E-Business Suite release 11.5.10, will be provided from December 2013 to December 2015, it will only provide payroll regulatory updates for the US, Canada, UK and Australia for fiscal years ending in 2014.

4. Q&A: SAP's Mike Ettling discusses SuccessFactors cloud HR strategy

Mike Ettling, global head of cloud and on-premise HR at SAP, talks to Computer Weekly about the company’s strategy for its SuccessFactors cloud HR technology.

5. Cloud applications spread across IT in Italy

Italian correspondent Piero Macri writes on how the cloud computing market is growing in Italy. Research from the Politecnico of Milan shows 2013 cloud investment at €1.18bn, 31% up on 2012.

Claudio Umana, CIO of Fracarro Group, an audio-video data systems company based in Castelfranco Veneto, says: “The new paradigm of IT as a service drives everyone to think in a different way. It doesn’t mean rewriting the old principles by means of a lower-cost infrastructure – that’s just a small part of the game. Cloud asks for a new way of representing IT, a way to add value from a business perspective.”

6. Interview: Infor’s president Duncan Angove talks strategy

Duncan Angove is president of business applications company Infor, and is part of an ex-Oracle senior management team that has reset the company’s strategy in recent years. Here he talks to Computer Weekly’s business applications Editor, Brian McKenna.

7. Morrison Utility Services fills in holes faster with ETAdirect

Morrison Utility Services digs and fills in holes in the road more efficiently with cloud-based mobile workforce management tool ETAdirect from TOA Technologies. Reported benefits include a 15% reduction in travel time and reduced fuel costs of £2,288 per field team. For this business process improvement, it received a Computer Weekly enterprise software award in the cloud category.

8. Talent management software revives stale HR practices

Jessica Twentyman asks whether it is time to scrap the annual employee performance review. After all, the results it produces do not seem to be those that many business leaders would welcome, among them resentment, annoyance and stress. Can technology help?

9. Standard Life blazes savings trail with Oracle Fusion

Lindsay Clark examines Standard Life’s decision to adopt Oracle’s cloud-based Fusion applications in 2011. From its headquarters in Scotland, the savings and investment firm was an early adopter of Fusion to support its HR function – it employs some 9,000 people around the world. But its main reason for adoption was not because Fusion was in the cloud. It was rather an opportunity to standardise business processes. Sandy Begbie, group operations officer, says the company adopted the software globally without any customisation.

10 Minerals firm Imerys upgrades IFS ERP as economy lifts

Lindsay Clark tells the story of multinational minerals firm Imerys’ upgrade of its IFS enterprise resource planning system. Born of technical necessity, the project has yet born ancillary business benefits, such as document management features, which will store 16,000 environment, health and safety documents. The upgrade has boosted the executive team's confidence in IT projects.

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