Top 10 business applications stories of 2019

The steady incursion of artificial intelligence into enterprise software was a major theme behind Computer Weekly’s in-depth stories in this area in 2019

The steady incursion of artificial intelligence (AI) into enterprise software was a major theme behind Computer Weekly’s in-depth stories in this area in 2019. Human versus machine is the opposition that looms over much of the coverage here. “Can work allocation algorithms play fair?” is the question behind one of the features highlighted below, as one example. Yet another question is: “Has AI been massively over-hyped?”

In relation to the two software giants that dominate this field – SAP and Oracle – both have seen significant developments at senior leadership level in 2019. SAP’s chief executive Bill McDermott left his post, and then fetched up at ServiceNow. And it was with sadness that we learned of the untimely death of Oracle’s co-CEO Mark Hurd.

SAP’s main business story lay in its 2018 $8bn acquisition of online survey supplier Qualtrics. This was trumpeted at SAP’s annual user conference Sapphire in Florida in May as representing the marriage of experience data (X data) with operational data (O data). And yet, by the time of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group conference in Birmingham in December, a full 43% of customers had yet to hear of Qualtrics.

Oracle’s main thrust remains to push its cloud message. At Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, Steve Miranda, executive vice-president of Oracle applications product development, gave Computer Weekly an interview in which he explained what the supplier takes to be the main virtue of cloud migration for CIOs: speed.

But SAP and Oracle do not exhaust the supplier side of the business applications market. Infor and Unit4 feature here, too.

And, lifting one’s gaze from the market, we closed out the year in the UK with a general election, which prompted this article on the role software can play in deepening democracy.

1. Can work allocation algorithms play fair?

Allocating work by algorithm might have advantages for workers as well as employers. Can it be done fairly and with respect for “human capital”? SA Mathieson investigates. 

2. Are AI applications failing to live up to hype in enterprise adoption?

Artificial intelligence has been baked into enterprise applications in recent years and often given special names, such as Einstein, Leonardo and Coleman. But has the hype delivered? Cath Everett reports. 

3. Sapphire 2019: McDermott dubs Qualtrics ‘elixir for cultural change’

At SapphireNow 2019 in Orlando, Florida, CEO Bill McDermott said the gap between what consumers expect and what they get makes up a $1.6tn economic problem addressed by SAP’s Qualtrics acquisition.

4. Executive interview: Speed is cloud apps benefit, says Oracle’s Miranda

In a Q&A session with Computer Weekly at Oracle OpenWorld 2019, applications head Steve Miranda discussed the supplier’s approach to cloud applications, digital assistants and machine learning. 

5. Unit4 CEO Mike Ettling: Enterprise customers won’t pay extra for AI

Mike Ettling, chief executive of Unit4, spoke to Computer Weekly at the Unleash HR conference in Paris about enterprise resource planning (ERP) trends, and how he is positioning the firm he started running this year. 

6. First Bus blends Infor asset management with SAP core ERP

When First Bus decided to upgrade its asset management and maintenance systems, it avoided senior management’s first choice, SAP, which provides its main business systems, and plumped for Infor. Lindsay Clark tells the story. 

7. Forward-thinking companies are listening to employees

Technologies and programmes amplifying employees’ voices gain interest among companies keen to keep staff loyal and motivated. Cath Everett explains. 

8. SAP User Group’s Cooper: Indirect licensing progress welcome but slow

SAP UK&I User Group chair Paul Cooper on the state of play between SAP and users: S/4 adoption growth steady; sanguine about end of ECC6; indirect licensing still an issue; and C/4 remains unknown. 

9. UKISUG 2019: Qualtrics unknown to 43% of SAP customers

On the opening day of its annual conference, the UK & Ireland SAP User Group unveils member research showing scant awareness of Qualtrics, and continuing slow adoption of S/4 Hana. 

10. How software can support public involvement with democracy

Iceland, Scotland and Sweden have experimented with using online software to involve citizens more deeply in democratic processes. The key, Steven Mathieson discovers, seems to be encouraging enlightened debate.


Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

Data Center
Data Management