Tuesday, February 20, 2007

SAP brings strategy to everyone - "Web 2.0" style

A picture says a thousand words, so I thought I would begin my post with one. It's official, SAP acquired Pilot Software last week, and you can read the press release here: SAP Strengthens Leadership in Analytic Applications Market with Acquisition of Pilot Software. Pilot's flagship application, PilotWorks, is highly interactive and has the visually engaging user experience you see above and below:

So what does PilotWorks do? It's an integrated system for delivering the goals, metrics, and initiatives to every person in an organization to help align them to the overall strategy. What we loved about the application as we got to know it better is how incredibly flexible it is. It is completely methodology agnostic. If you want to use the Kaplan and Norton Balanced Scorecard methodology, you can, but any of a number of other performance management methodologies are supported as well.

The view above is a drilldown on a scorecard. Note how refined the performance management concepts are: the use of qualitative AND quantitative metrics, classification of metrics as leading or lagging, are but two examples of a team that really understands performance management and has gleaned this knowledge by listening to how their customers need to use software to meet their business needs.
So why the "Web 2.0" moniker in the title? One of the features that really distinguishes this software from others is its highly collaborative nature. Threaded discussions, annotations, and operational reviews all allow workers to participate in the evolution of their organizations' strategies, not just be a victim to them. This is the secret sauce that turns the strategy that the management team crafts into something that is relevant and interesting for their employees.

While we were enamored with the technology, we were even more impressed with the team. These are a group of top notch industry veterans who really take pride in their work and it shows, and the fact that they are all nice people to work with makes it even better. Pilot's former CEO, Jonathan Becher, has a bookshelf stacked with books on performance management topics, and he has read all of them, but he also has a very pragmatic and approachable take on the topic. His blog, Management By Walking Around, is well worth a read to understand what performance management really could be like in your organization and what benefits you can hope to achieve. Many of the developers have multiple decades of experience on the cutting edge of OLAP technology which has given them the platform to build really powerful analytic applications like PilotWorks.
Overall, we think this acquisition will be the launching pad for our very serious aspirations to become a leader in the performance management space, and the industry analysts, press, and our competitors have most definitely noticed. John Hagerty of AMR, one of the most respected voices in this space, noted about the acquisition that, "the products look very promising and fit well into SAP’s articulated vision"in his article today. Over the next few months, there will be a lot more to say, but 2007 is definitely the year that SAP takes it up a notch in this market.