Top 10 business applications stories of 2012

Connection between information and applications has impressed SAP’s and Oracle’s customers with innovation but assimilation has been tough

The nexus between information and applications has been the hot area in enterprise software in 2012. The field’s giants – SAP and Oracle – engage with customers impressed by the innovation from these suppliers and struggling to keep pace with it and to deal with perennial licensing issues made worse by a difficult UK economy. This group of 10 top business applications stories of 2012 also features corporate user innovation around supply chain, at Sandvik, and in the aviation industry. Curiosity on Mars also gets a look in.


1 Oracle and SAP worst for government ERP cost differences

Oracle and SAP were singled out by the Cabinet Office as having the most inconsistent prices for enterprise resource planning (ERP) licence and maintenance support across central government departments. Exclusive Computer Weekly research revealed that some Whitehall departments are paying up to three times more than others in ERP licence costs. The Cabinet Office said it had also carried out a review of its ERP systems across large central government departments, as part of its Next Generation Shared Services strategy for government.

SAP users need more clarity on latest cloud, mobile and BI efforts

SAP customers in the UK and Ireland continued to express a degree of confusion about the supplier’s more advanced initiatives, including cloud migration and recent acquisitions.

3 Interview: Oracle president Mark Hurd

Computer Weekly’s editor in chief Bryan Glick interviewed Oracle’s Mark Hurd about cloud computing, reducing IT complexity and big data:

“Silicon Valley might be notoriously competitive, but it's still a place where it helps to have friends in high places.

When, in 2010, Mark Hurd was forced to resign as HP chief executive after allegations that amounted to conduct unbecoming of the role in the eyes of the HP board, Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison told the New York Times that, "the HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago."

And just to prove he meant it, one month later, Ellison recruited Hurd to take over as the new Oracle president.

4 Rigorous software testing gets Curiosity off to a good start

Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) used static code analysis from Coverity to maximise the quality of the code running on the Curiosity rover's mission to Mars.

Curiosity successfully landed on Mars in August. The developers at JPL used a suite of sophisticated software tools and programming techniques, including Coverity, to improve the quality of the software that controls the flight and onboard functions of Curiosity. With more than two million lines of code, the software team needed to ensure that every software defect was found and fixed before launch.

5 Sandvik tightens supply chain with single supplier e-procurement portal

Swedish mining and construction giant Sandvik simplified its interface with thousands of suppliers using an ERP data integration web portal from Liaison. New decision-making information made visible.

6 BAT automates SAP data extraction to free up auditing resource

British American Tobacco deploys automatic data extraction tools on its SAP environment to aid audit. Benefits include eliminating duplicated suppliers to reduce fraud. Supports move to single instance.

7 Aerospace online supply chain hub eases bottlenecks in manufacturing

Matthais Naumann, senior vice-president, EADS leads the development of AirSupply, an online supply chain hub created by five leading European aerospace manufacturers, hosted in the cloud by SupplyOn.

8 Oracle OpenWorld and JavaOne: fun facts

Adrian Bridgwater filled us in: “A grand total of 40,942 sets of buttocks sit on the same number of seats during the sessions for this event and those users get through 142,000 cups of coffee, 95,000 sodas (they mean fizzy drinks), 63,000 lunches and 42,000 gallons of filtered tap water. Oracle did not supply information relating to use of the toilet facilities however.

The event is green and eco-aware too by all accounts. A total of 100,000 watts of power has been saved as a result of installing LED lighting fixtures.

But here's the real eco-fact for you...

"Since 2008, on-site use of printed paper has dropped from 112 tonnes to six tonnes in 2011, with 2012 expected to record an even better figure.”

9 UK saves five quid on Oracle

Mark Ballard blogged on how: “The Cabinet Office has shaved about a fiver off the cost of an Oracle licence after high-powered negotiations in which minister Francis Maude pressed the flesh with Oracle president Safra Catz."

10 Forrester: rethink your CRM strategy

The way people now buy products and services is eroding traditional approaches to customer relationship management (CRM) according to analyst Forrester.

In the Navigate the Future of CRM report, William Band, a principal analyst at Forrester said: “Empowered customers can easily find the cheapest prices from suppliers, large or small, anywhere in the world.” 

He said that with online reviews and mobile web access, a company's customers know more about its products, services, competitors and pricing than the business itself. He warned that competitors can also see a rival's strategy simply by searching the internet and viewing online customer experiences.

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