Part 3 of interview with Jeff Nolan, one of SAP's top strategists.
Part 2 is here and it discusses SAP's competitive landscape.
"We believe we have at least a two year head start on Oracle, our main competitor. While Larry was occupied in his acquisition strategy we continued to grow, and we win more than two-thirds of the time against Oracle. And we recently exceeded Oracle's market cap for the first time," Mr Nolan said.
SAP certainly has momentum and now it must gird itself for the information warfare that is coming as Oracle moves its attention from large accusations to maneuvering for best position in IT application markets.
Mr Nolan's mission is to develop a strategy will disrupt Oracle and also use blogging and the new media technologies such as wikis, in building an internal SAP blogosphere. That should generate a tremendous amount of competitive intelligence from within SAP. And there is also an external communications component and that is to make sure that SAP is well represented in whatever IT conversations are out there.
"We have to make sure that we are known by the influential bloggers and publications out there, and the best way is by meeting with them, putting a face to a name," he says.
I mentioned that I recently met with PR industry icon Richard Edelman and he has a phrase for that, he calls it "bringing people into the tent." It means building a relationship with people--it is media relations 101. (However, most PR companies don't get it--they send their most junior people on media relations tasks.)
Unusual attack strategies
Mr Nolan also talked about a couple of other communications strategies he is considering in his "Attack Oracle" campaign. I'm choosing not to mention them at the moment. I want to see how they might work because they are original ideas and I don't want to potentially blunt their effectiveness by writing about them first.
What is very clear is that Mr Nolan's early and lengthy experience with blogging has provided him with a keen awareness how things work in this new media age.
"I have a new understanding and appreciation of media and media businesses," he says. "Most of the valley doesn't yet understand what's going on."
Advertising supported software
It is easy to think of software companies as a type of media company because we used to call them "software publishers" and now, the dominant trend is to publish the software as a web service and have it be advertising supported.
Mr Nolan says SAP looked at the numbers and "the online advertising model just isn't there to support applications. Those companies advocating advertising supported applications haven't really looked at the numbers." Microsoft is one of those companies that has talked about advertising supported online apps, following Google's lead in online consumer software.
Lifestyles of a VC
Mr Nolan admits that he does miss his VC life and its lifestyle. "Now when I'm out on the golf course with my buddies who are VCs and they are talking deals, I'm left out of it. But I like the challenge of this job. When I was a VC I would go to a lot of board meetings and I would hear the same problems--different companies but the same problems. I'm not saying I'm going to keep doing this job forever, but it is a fascinating time in the enterprise software industry. There is a massive shift in the economics of this industry, and there are disruptive technologies emerging so it is an exciting time. And I'm learning a lot."