On Monday, 3rd of June, Software AG’s customersand partners gathered for the Process Driven Forum. After a late start, MarkJeffries opened proceedings as the event host. I’ve never been to an eventwhere an external speaker was brought in to MC, but I very quickly saw why hewas chosen. He was slick and confident, staying on message - clearly havingdone very many of these events before - and his time management was impeccable.It was a shame that the rest of the day didn’t have quite the same sheen.
After CMO Ivo Totev had delivered the keynote “Innovations forthe Digital Enterprise” – a speech full of statistics, market commentary andlittle else – Mike Pearce from Vodafone took the stage. He gave good, honestfeedback about how he and his team had made effective use of Aris and includedthings he thought should be changed (UI designers take note; use of colour isimportant!). Following him was a presentation from Matthew Bennion-Pedley onhow UK Policing is working with Software AG to improve processes in the police.It sounded more like the sort of presentation to be delivered to politiciansrather than business; a progress update on what the UK Police is doing ratherthan experiences of working with either Software AG the company or theirproducts. Infamous “Rogue Trader” Nick Leeson closed the morning session with avery interesting and candid account of his dealings in the 90s ("knowledge is nothing without understanding") which was undoubtedlymy highlight of the day (despite the lunch being particularly good).
The afternoon was divided into four “streams” of which Iattended “Real-Time Customer Experience” hoping to hear about Terracotta which,aside from a mention from host Mark Jeffries, had been absent so far. Thestructure was straightforward: after an introduction from Phil Davies, therewas a presentation from Software AG, a customer and a partner and a panel toclose.
The presentation was delivered by George Bonev who, althoughclearly not a regular speaker, delivered a good, focused presentation on Terracotta’sIn-Genius. There wasn’t the sort of depth I had hoped for but, by this stage, Irealised that I, as a techie, was not the target audience. Having said that, Igot a reasonable idea of what the product was and why it, and BigMemory, has been lauded. I'll be blogging specifically about In-Genius once I've had a chance to use it myself but, until then, you can always read about it on Terracotta's website
The other two presentations seemed to share the same problemas Matthew’s police presentation: if you removed all mention of Software AG, atleast 95% of the presentations would have still been left. The panel discussionat the end carried on the trend; I’m not sure I even heard a product namementioned.
I’m not a natural networker. If I was, I’d probably beworking in the City. I always find these sorts of events have a lot of spacefor networking so, during the lunch and afternoon breaks, I gave it my bestshot. What I found was what I had been missing during the presentations:engaging employees who cared about the products they worked with and wanted totalk about them.
As for the rest of the event, I was left wondering what thepoint of it was. There didn’t seem to be a clear, coherent message declaringSoftware AG’s intentions. Anyone who has spent any time at an IBM event couldnot fail to come away knowing that they want to build a “smarter planet”; at anOracle event you will learn that they intend to provide best-of-breedsolutions. As for Software AG? I couldn’t tell you.
An interesting, and rather telling, thing to note was thehandling of a “big acquisition announcement” declared a couple of times duringthe morning as coming “at 2:30!” The timing of such an announcement struck meas odd, since the audience would be split into four separate streams by then.When that time came and went without a mention, it seemed as though it had beenforgotten. When asked afterwards, employees needed to ask around themselves tofind out the acquisition was Alfabet– apparently delegates weren’t the only ones left out of the loop!
We were promised a “Process Driven Forum” and that isexactly what we got; the whole event was about business processes. All toooften, it seemed, Software AG forgot to include themselves and their corporatestrategy in the discussion.