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Sunday, March 06, 2005

SAP versus Oracle Blogs

Let’s face it, with Oracle managing to swallow up Peoplesoft and J.D. Edwards(JDE) it seems that when organisations are choosing an ERP system these days they only really have two choices, Oracle or SAP. Of course, there are other players around but if you want systems that offer you Enterprise wide applications that are integrated these are probably your two best choices if you decide not to go for a “best of breed” solution for each area/unit/function of your business. Oracle has the added benefit that even if there is a SAP sale made it’s quite likely the organisation might choose to run it off an Oracle Database. In an effort to see how our competitors in the ERP arena are performing from a blogging perspective, I did some googling and browsing the other day to see what SAP has to offer in the blog arena. I came up with some interesting results…...

SAP Executive Blogs

The first thing I noticed is that there are actually blogs maintained on the SAP site by some of their Executive Board Members. The stated intention of these blogs is to Share Executives’ Vision and Strategy with the SAP Community. According to the SAP Communities blog page: -

These blogs are a platform that facilitate learning and the sharing of best practices. Occasionally, Shai Agassi, Léo Apotheker, Claus E. Heinrich, Peter Zencke and Peter J. Kirschbauer post new entries on topics of interest. And they encourage you to submit comments so you and other members can share thoughts. An e-mail subscription service can notify you that a new topic has been posted. These blogs are only available to SAP Community members.

I found myself promptly signing up to the SAP Community as I was really quite interested to see what these guys had to say. What a traitor I am - I have to admit though, I’m a bit of SAP consultant wanabee as I believe it’s important to be multi-skilled and process focused rather than having all your eggs in one basket. Although the blogs are not updated frequently the concept of Senior Executives maintaining blogs really appeals to me and I think this is an excellent way for management to communicate their vision and ideas with the public and at the same time obtain feedback. It’s a perfect example of a concept I firmly believe in and which I’m certain all organisations should implement, namely 360 degree or multi source feedback. Examples of some of the blog titles are: -

  • Customers need Flexibility and Agility to Grow and Survive
  • Strengthening One Face to the Customer
  • How Real-World Awareness Creates Business Value
  • The Real Value of Mobility as an Offering in the Value Chain
  • The Business Process Platform: Enabler of Innovation

Notice the words value and customer appear quite often so it gives some insights as to what SAP’s strategies are. I actually wondered whether these SAP Exec blogs were actually penned by them or whether it was a marketing ploy. As far as I am aware there are no blogs maintained by Oracle Executives. In fact a search for the word blog on the Oracle site returned no results whilst on the SAP site the same search returned 56 results, seems like Oracle’s internal search engine is ailing. I did a site specific search on Google for both Oracle and SAP to get a fair comparison - Oracle turned up 56 results whilst SAP returned 76 - SAP’s the obvious winner here.

SAP Developer Network Weblogs

This is a pretty cool site such which is updated frequently with contributions by SAP developers. It seems quite similar to the Microsoft Developer Network Blog but is obviously a bit smaller. I guess the Oracle Equivalent is the Technical Articles for Developers page, however, it’s not updated that frequently and doesn’t come near to what SAP has to offer - no doubt, SAP wins in this blog category.

Blogs and Feeds by Customers, Consultants, Partners, ISV’s and Individuals

A Google search for "SAP Blog" returned 319 results whilst a search for "oracle blog" returned 1,790 results. These results when interpreted and compared with the results from the previous search tell me that SAP doesn’t have a lot of blogging activity taking place outside of it’s organisation. I’ve listed a couple of the SAP Blogs I found here but I have to say there’s a surprisingly small number.

Hans@SAP weblog - the blog of Hans Senden a SAP developer in Wijlre, The Netherlands.

Venture Chronicles by Jeff Nolan

Kishore Balakrishnan’s Blog

Apolemia - SAP APO and Development Blog

A SAP Blog by Dennyx of Romania

SAP Specialist - seems to be in a mixture of Chinese and English.

ITtoolbox SAP Blogs - here you will find a few SAP blogs and a number of other blogs relating to the implementation and management of IT and Technology Solutions, all of which make very good reading (I’ve added most of them to my RSS feed reader).

The number of search results returned for the "oracle blog" key phrase, on the other hand,  indicates what I believe to be true and that is that there is a much larger amount of blogging activity outside of Oracle than there is outside of SAP. By outside I mean, not sponsored or promoted by, but rather it is the effort of various consultants, partners, ISV’s, customers and individuals which is causing this activity to take place. Oracle itself lists a number of RSS Newsfeeds and Blogs on their site which you can read, but none of these is actually part and parcel of an Oracle Strategy to add value to it’s services. In addition to this listing, you can also find various feeds of Oracle Blogs at Orablogs.com or vsbabu.org - I haven’t come across any such feeds for SAP, probably because there’s not enough SAP blogs out there to support this kind of activity. Certainly outside of Oracle Corporation itself there is much ongoing blogging activity, although there is plenty of room for improvement - hence, Oracle wins in this category.

Summary

I’ve compared blogging at various levels within the SAP and Oracle businesses, from strategic to development to partner/ISV/consulting/individual or customer blogs. It seems that Oracle should do a lot more to encourage blogging activity within it’s own organisation and also to promote blogging activity outside of their organisation, that is, if they don’t mind giving away an secrets. Essentially they need to be more strategic in their approach to blogging. There’s definitely been some movement in the right direction here, for example, at their last OpenWorld conference in San Francisco attendees were able to write blogs covering the conference - I discuss this here. Certainly for the upcoming SAP Sapphire Conferences in Copenhagen and Boston, as well as for past conferences there doesn’t seem to have been much blog coverage. Despite this, SAP has strong blogging strategy within their own organisation and would appear to be taking a more strategic approach, however, the blog offerings outside of their organisation are some what non existent.

I’ve tried to be as objective as possible when writing this post, it’s not my intention to be destructive in my criticism of SAP or Oracle but rather to provide both parties and readers with constructive criticism that can allow them to make decisions that would benefit both communities. Feel free to add any remarks and if you know of any SAP blogs that I haven’t mentioned here, update this post with your comments.

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