Top 10 business applications stories of 2017

Indirect licensing of SAP software was the big story, with SAP’s victory over Diageo in the High Court proving a tinderbox. AI, machine learning and blockchain oscillated between hype and reality

There can be little doubt what Computer Weekly’s top enterprise software story was in 2017: indirect licensing of SAP software. Whatever else we might write about artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain or big data is dwarfed by this topic – and that would include SAP’s own internet of things (IoT)/machine learning/AI toolkit, Leonardo, which links with the supplier’s in-memory, columnar database, Hana.

From the SAP v Diageo indirect licensing case in the High Court in London, through SAP’s own licensing modernisation drive, to its dialogue with users at the UK and Ireland SAP User Group conference in November, this has been a red hot topic. In the court case, Diageo was found to be liable for licensing fees in respect of its use of mySAP ERP software on a Salesforce platform.

AI is often said to be a technology plank of the so-called fourth industrial revolution, hailed by Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce, at its Dreamforce jamboree in San Francisco. A month earlier, in the same city, Larry Ellison, founder and CTO of Oracle, also invoked AI in the form of machine learning as the core of its avowedly “revolutionary” autonomous database.

Elsewhere in this year’s list, we look at how damaging the hype around AI could turn out to be, but also how blockchain and IoT could come together with new-generation ERP to drive operational efficiencies for real.

Finally, we find CRM and cloud HR proving their value in healthcare, higher education and private banking.

1. High Court rules for SAP, against Diageo in indirect licensing case

The judge rejected Diageo’s submission that SAP PI is a “gatekeeper” licence for gaining access to the SAP suite of applications and database.

 2. SAP users react with concern to SAP High Court victory over Diageo

The SAP UK and Ireland User Group reacted with concern to the supplier’s High Court victory over Diageo in indirect licensing dispute.

3. Sapphire 2017: McDermott declares SAP indirect licensing policy change

At SAP’s annual Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, Florida, CEO Bill McDermott ruled out charging for static read access from third-party systems, after recent controversy.

4. SAP and customers still in cockpit of debate about indirect licensing

SAP and the UK and Ireland SAP User Group thrashed out the topic of indirect licensing in 2017. Is there an amicable settlement in sight in 2018?

5. OpenWorld 2017: Ellison declares autonomous database ‘revolutionary’

Oracle’s Larry Ellison claimed a revolutionary vocation for the “autonomous” 18c database at the supplier’s 2017 OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

6. Dreamforce 2017: Benioff hails fourth industrial revolution

Salesforce CEO banged the drum for AI-infused cloud CRM as a plank in so-called “fourth industrial revolution”, with increased customisation of its software to the fore.

7. Is artificial intelligence hype sowing damaging confusion?

IT suppliers have leapt on the artificial intelligence/machine learning bandwagon, spreading a level of confusion that threatens potential technology benefits with AI washing.

8. Higher education and healthcare use specialist CRM in all but name

Customer relationship management software may be targeted at businesses, but the healthcare and higher education industries have redefined it to gain better insight into their users.

9. Business applications embrace IoT, blockchain to face future

Next-generation ERP systems could intersect with IoT, blockchain and smart contracts to drive a new wave of automation aimed at operational efficiency.

10. Private Swiss bank Julius Baer to save $1m a year with cloud HR

Julius Baer banks on higher returns after replacing on-premise systems with cloud HR services from Workday.

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