Real-time Business

Writes Information Week:

The challenge is to build a real-time IT infrastructure that supports something far more ambitious: a real-time business. Imagine a company that can offer targeted incentives the moment a customer calls, track products in real time as they move from warehouse to store shelves, almost immediately close its books at the end of the quarter, and give senior executives up-to-the-minute reports on key operational data.

Real-time business requires synchronizing business processes with computers that manage and distribute data as events occur — and a fast-acting corporate culture to make it all work.

The challenge for Emergic is to help SMEs in emerging markets to leapfrog and become real-time businesses.

IBM, Linux and SMEs

IBM looks to SMB sector for Linux love, writes InfoWorld:

Ahead of the Linuxworld Conference and Expo, which begins Tuesday in San Francisco, IBM Corp. is seeding the field with a collection of announcements that illustrate its momentum behind the open-source operating system. The company detailed Thursday new customers that have chosen to use Linux with its hardware and software. Nine customers being highlighted bring IBM’s tally of Linux followers to more than 4,600, the company said.

What is notable about the latest batch of converts is that some come from the small and medium-sized business (SMB) sector, a segment known for typically using Windows servers to run basic business, productivity and accounting applications.

Despite popular belief, “Linux is being used quite heavily by small and medium-sized business,” said Scott Handy, director of Linux software solutions for IBM. “We’ve been partnering with independent software vendors (ISVs) who call on the SMB market.”

Through partnerships with ISVs, IBM has been able to convince customers that its Linux-based xSeries servers, along with supporting applications such as its DB2 database software, can make for a viable alternative to Windows.

“Our initial search was for an accounting package that ran off of Linux,” said Jamey Russell, IT manager and proprietor of family-owned Westport River Winery.

After some investigating, the company decided to go with Accpac’s accounting software with DB2 on a server running Red Hat Inc.’s Linux operating system.

Adds InfoWorld about SMB market and competition with Windows:

The key to winning SMB customers will be making sure that the applications they use to run their key business functions are available for Linux, said Stacey Quandt, an industry analyst covering Linux and open source software for Giga Information Group Inc.

“The ISVs are a big part of the (operating system) ecosystem,” Quandt said. “There’s a lot of ISVs that IBM has been trying to pull into Linux to target SMBs.”

Historically, Microsoft has been a leader in the SMB space because so many accounting and small-business service applications have been designed for Windows.

“I’d say the vast majority of people building applications for SMBs are doing it on our platform,” said Peter Houston, senior director of Microsoft’s Windows server product management group, who will be representing Microsoft next week at its Linuxworld booth.

We need to take a similar strategy with enterprise applications. The core business apps have to be available on Linux. Initially, it could be through adaptors to existing applications for “readers” (since there will be 10x more readers than “writers”). Later, we need to be able to write back to the application, and finally, be able to replace the app itself. The key lies in being able to value-add by aggregating information from multiple different information sources from across the enterprise.


Why Outsourcing Is In is an article by Anne Chung, Tim Jackson, and Tim Laseter in Strategy+Business:

In the past, outsourcing focused on tactical, nonessential activities such as payroll processing or manned security stations. But the focus is shifting. Strategic operations outsourcing encompasses core activities – such as manufacturing or logistics – that could substantially affect a business if not performed well. The best companies pursue it through a critical reevaluation of their positions along industry value chains, aiming to improve financials in mature businesses. When multiple companies in or around an industry come to the same strategic conclusion, a reinforcing cycle of strategic outsourcing can initiate a fundamental restructuring of entire industries.

I will be writing shortly about Outsourcing in my Tech Talk series on “Tech’s 10X Tsunamis”.

Rising China – NYT

Writes the New York Times in an article entitled China Races to Replace U.S. as Economic Power in Asia: “As it buys up goods, parts and raw materials from its neighbors as never before, China has accompanied its new heft with diplomatic efforts to assure them that it wants to offer cooperation, not competition. Many have rushed to China’s embrace and are nimbly shifting their economic alliances, particularly as the United States makes its way through only a tentative economic recovery….Mr. Lardy says China’s trade is now growing at a faster rate than Japan’s growth during its boom years in the 1960’s and 1970’s.”

Intuit pushes at Small Businesses

One company to watch and learn from is Intuit, It is exclusively focused on targeting small companies. This year, its been making acquisitions of other cos. targeted at small businesses, the latest one being Eclispe. [ story].

Here’s a little older story providing some background, also from

J.P. Morgan analyst Adam Holt said there’s still a lot of potential in selling products tailored for specific business segments, as the main competition for [Intuit’s] QuickBooks is smaller companies that make software and have only niche products. By coming up with its own approach and selectively acquiring companies such as American Fundware, a specialist in accounting software for nonprofits that Intuit agreed to acquire earlier this month, Intuit can offer customers the best of both worlds.

“It’s a highly fragmented marketplace,” Holt said. “You’ve got a lot of little solutions-providers targeted at individual vertical markets, but there isn’t anybody with Intuit’s brand name, balance sheet and installed base that’s rolling out vertical products. I think they’re really well-positioned to succeed there.”

Intuit is also working to use the strength of QuickBooks to sell other services, such as payroll processing.

We will also need one “killer platform” to build on. Can that be the Thin Client-Thick Server platform? Or the Digital Dashboard? Or Messaging?

Business Week InfoTech 100

Here. Note the number of Asian companies in the list. Writes Business Week: “When it comes to information technology companies, this is Asia’s moment to shine. Companies from Korea, Taiwan, and China have grabbed 7 of the top 10 slots on the BusinessWeek IT 100 list. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.–a giant in semiconductors, mobile phones, and consumer electronics–ranks No. 1 overall….Several top companies on the BusinessWeek list this year are Taiwanese manufacturers of computer hardware and key components, such as Quanta Computer (No. 2), Hon Hai Precision Industry (No. 3), Elitegroup Computer Systems, (No. 8), and Asustek Computer (AKCZF ) (No. 23).”

Intuit’s Small Business Focus

An article in Says an Intuit executive: “The reason were focused on the small-business space is because it’s a massive opportunity that just dwarfs any opportunity we’re focused on in the consumer space. These businesses have demonstrated a willingness to pay for products and services that help them run their business better.”

An even bigger opportunities lies in addressing the small and medium-sized businesses in the emerging markets of the world.