CRM Gone Wild

As a former chief information officer (CIO) and current business software professional, I've found it unusual that the ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) software industries seem to generate the majority of oddball stories that leave me scratching my head and wondering why enterprise software companies constantly deliver the overall IT's industries comic relief.

For example, if you're looking for a laugh within the IT industry, don't search out the information security space. Go to ERP.
If you're looking for outlandish CEO behavior, don't turn to the open source software industry. Go to ERP.
If you're looking for gorilla marketing events that go completely over the top, don't look to hardware or network campaigns. Go to ERP.
If you're looking for software that is bigger than life, don't seek out Web 2.0 or social meida. Go to ERP.

I created this entertainment site to highlight some of the more unusual, unorthodox and strange events which seem to occur with near predictability. If you're looking for more serious ERP software industry websites, I suggest as the best ERP software review and research site or for CRM software check out which I believe is the best CRM software evaluation site. However, if you enjoy the entertaiment, here's a small sampling of some of the more classical ERP software and CRM software industry events which generally either bring a grin to your face or a scratch to your head.

crm software

NetSuite Diagnoses ERP Software Integration as SHS (Software Hairball Syndrome)

The NetSuite Marketing department has gotten quite creative in their release of "Do you suffer from Software Hairball Syndrome?"
Well done NetSuite.


SAP Won't Deny Corporate Espionage

In the continuing legal saga with arch rival Oracle, SAP AG said today that it will not deny the claims that its subsidiary stole valuable data from Oracle and that SAP tried to use the stolen information to steal customers.

Oracle has alleged that TomorrowNow, an SAP subsidiary that provided ERP software support services to Oracle customers, among others, secretly downloaded millions of proprietary Oracle documents through password protected websites so that SAP could use them to "offer cut-rate support services to customers who use Oracle software, and to attempt to lure them to SAP's applications software platform and away from Oracle's" according to the Oracle complaint filed in 2007.

With SAP's response, the two software titans must now fight over the value of the stolen information. Oracle says it is entitled to $1 billion in damages. Not surprisingly, SAP says that figure is vastly overstated. The trial begins in November.

August 6, 2010. Permalink


Oracle President Charles Phillips Incurs CLM (Career Limiting Move)

January 22, 2010. In a continuing effort to intertwine the technology and soap opera industries, Oracle President Charles E. Phillips gave sidewalk pedestrians plenty to look at and the industry press plenty to write about. Oh my, I don't think Larry is going to like this.

Oracle's Charles Phillips and YaVaughnie Wilkins

Billboards prominently displayed over New York's Times Square as well as in San Francisco and Atlanta show the magnitude of infidelity exposed and a woman scorned. YaVaughnie Wilkins put up the larger than life banners after she learned that her eight year lover, Charles E. Phillips, president and director of Oracle Corporation - gave her the boot. Wilkins also setup the website, however, it appears that Phillips may have been successful in bringing down the website - at least temporarily.

In an Oracle newsletter published in 2006, Phillips was described by his employer as an ex-marine and "family man" who has a wife and 10-year-old son, Chas.

While clearly in crisis mode, Phillips attempted a poorly planned retreat and put out a statement "I had an 8-and-a-half-year serious relationship with YaVaughnie Wilkins. The relationship with Ms. Wilkins has since ended, and we both wish each other well."

Call me crazy, but from the billboards, I'm thinking Ms. Wilkins doesn't wish him well. I also don't think Phillips wife - or his boss, the sympathetic, patient and understanding Larry Ellison - will wish him well. I suspect Phillips handlers are now trying to figure out how to return the media attention to Tiger.

January 22, 2010. Permalink


Buy versus Lease Analysis


The math on the Paul McCartney - Heather Mills divorce is as follows: After 5 years of marriage, he paid her $49 million. Assuming he shared sex every night during their 5 year relationship it ended up costing him $26,849 per occurrence. This is Heather.

Heather Mills


On the other hand, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's hooker, Kristen, an absolute stunner, charges $4,000 an hour. For anything! This is Kristen.


Had McCartney 'employed' Kristen, he would have paid $7.3 million for an hour of sex every night for 5 years (a $41.7 million savings).

Additional leasing value-added benefits include: a 22 year old hot babe, no begging, no coaxing, never a headache, plays all requests, no bitching or complaining or honey-do lists. Best of all, she leaves after her performance and comes back when asked. All at 1/7th the cost, and no legal fees or unflattering media exposure.

Sometimes leasing just makes more sense.

April 1, 2009. Permalink



Top 10 ERP Debocles

  1. Just desserts? Could a failed ERP software implementation (in this case SAP's R/3 ERP application) take down a Fortune 500 company (in this case Hershey Foods)? During Halloween season 1999, Hershey's problems with its supply chain applications prevented it from delivering $100 million worth of product and caused the company's stock to fall 8%. That's not sweet.
  2. Just fix it! What did a $400 million ERP software upgrade to Nike's supply chain and back office systems back in 2000 get the company? Well, for starters, $100 million in lost sales, a 20% stock dip and a collection of class-action lawsuits.
  3. Just the perfect storm. The classic tale of HP's consolidation of its fragmented North American ERP applications onto one SAP software system proves that one can never be too pessimistic when it comes to ERP project management. In 2004, HP's project managers knew all of the things that could go wrong with their ERP software rollout, but they just didn't plan for so many of them to occur at once. The project cost HP $160 million in order back-logs and lost revenue – more than five times the project's estimated cost.
  4. Just typical students. In 2004, more than 27,000 students at the University of Massachusetts, as well as at Stanford University and Indiana University, were forced to do battle with buggy portals and ERP software applications that left them at best unable to locate their classes and at worst unable to collect their financial aid checks.
  5. Just chuck it! US garbage disposal giant Waste Management engaged ERP software maker SAP in an acrimonious $100 million legal battle over an 18-month installation of its ERP software, and allegations of making up a vertical market product on the fly.
  6. Just where is it? In January 2006, Oracle boasted that it was halfway through the Fusion Applications development process – a killer enterprise application suite that combines the best features and functions taken from Oracle's expansive E-Business Suite, J.D. Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel product lines. Finally in 2010 the scope was changed, expectations were reset and success was declared - and then cheif sponsor and co-President Charles Phillips promptly left the company.
  7. Just not today. If enterprise software maintenance wasn't so darnboring, this one could be a movie. In 2005, SAP bought TomorrowNow, a small company that provides ERP software maintenance and services for Oracle's ERP products – at about 50% off Oracle's prices. Oracle alleged that SAP (via TN) "compiled an illegal library of Oracle's copyrighted software code and other materials". The nasty lawsuit unfolds and SAP shuts down TN in 2008. Meanwhile, TN cofounder Seth Ravin forms Rimini Street to scoop up all the former TN business, adding SAP maintenance to the mix. SAP later found guilty and order to pay Oracle over a billion dollars.
  8. Just sleep on it. Shareholder pressure on bedding-maker Select Comfort saw a $20 million SAP project put on hold, amidst charges of "extremely poor judgment by management".
  9. Just leave it with us. Despite SaaS and the cloud being the logical next evolution for ERP, the vast majority of CIOs remain committed to on-premise, traditional ERP systems, despite aggravating integration and high-cost headaches.
  10. Just keep your pants on! Both high profile sailors, SAP's Hasso Plattner and Oracle's Larry Ellison clashed during the 1996 Kenwood Cup. Legend has it that Ellison's crew ignored Plattner's wounded yacht and Plattner has since admitted to mooning Ellison's crew for not helping. Ellison may not have been aboard but the high-seas battle has raged ever since.



TomorrowNow Legal Complaint Elevated From Copying to Conspiracy

October 14, 2008. Since Oracle filed its original 44-page lawsuit against SAP alleging that the SAP’s subsidiary engaged in a massive effort to steal intellectual property from Oracle’s Customer Connection web site, the company has raised the stakes considerably. The suit involves TomorrowNow, a Texas-based SAP subsidiary and third-party provider of technical support for users of Oracle’s PeopleSoft applications. So as to not leave a media opportunity untouched, Oracle upped the ante with new filings that accuse the German giant of “ engage in and cover-up corporate theft of Oracle intellectual property on the grandest scale.” Oracle alleges that SAP executives, including Chief Executive Officer Henning Kagermann, were cognizant—prior to SAP’s 2005 acquisition of TomorrowNow—of the Texas firm’s illegal access to files and electronic documents belonging to Oracle. Oracle states that SAP was warned in a pre-acquisition presentation given by TomorrowNow executives that apparently “made clear that TomorrowNow did not operate legally,” and, in fact, posed “likely legal action” from Oracle.

IP theft

After initially denying allegations, In September 2007, SAP publicly declared that inappropriate downloads occurred, however, were restricted to TomorrowNow employees and that no information crossed over to SAP Americas or SAP AG. SAP later announced on July 21 its plans to shut down TomorrowNow by October 31, 2008. Permalink


The Source of The Wall Street Bail Out

October 1, 2008. While the President, Congress, both presidential candidates and the media have all tried and failed to accurately explain the Wall Street Bail Out to the American people, far fewer of the political officials and pundits have braved recognizing the failed policies of homeowner entitlement (when home ownership became a God given right and not a goal to be approached with savings and an ability to pay the result could be forecasted) and lack of SEC oversight. If you would really like to know the flawed social and financial policies that converged to get us in this mess, you might enjoy my How We Got In This Mess slide show.


Does Lawson Software's CEO Compare Himself To a Cocaine Dealer?

August 30, 2008. According to Harry Debes, CEO of Lawson Software, people are stupid, on-premise software is like cocaine and the software as a service (SaaS) market will be dead in two years. In an August 2008 interview with ZDNet while in Asia, the never before recognized but now infamous CEO of ERP software applications clearly demonstrates why the old guard of ERP software makers were blinded by the SaaS market disruption and why the ERP software industry is overdue for a new breed of customer-centric business systems.

Questions along with Harry Debes responses included the following:

Q: All the other big [ERP software] players are finally going on-demand. Is cloud computing the next big thing?
Harry: This on-demand, SaaS phenomenon is something I’ve lived through three times in my career now. The first time, it was called ’service bureaus’. The second time, it was ‘application service providers’, and now it’s called ‘SaaS’. But it’s pretty much the same thing, and my prediction is that it’ll go the same way as the other two have gone - nowhere. SaaS is not God’s gift to the software industry or customer community. just has average to below-average profitability. People will realize the hype about SaaS companies has been overblown within the next two years. One day will not deliver its growth projections, and its stock price will tumble in a big hurry. Then, the rest of the SaaS industry will collapse.

Q: Won’t people learn from and avoid the prior mistakes of SaaS incarnations?
Harry: People are stupid. History has shown it repeats itself, and people make the same mistakes.

Q: But what about your competitors finally offering SaaS models?
Harry: Larry Ellison (CEO of Oracle) has the same perspective as I do. He accidentally funded the CRM product and NetSuite. He didn’t really mean to. They’ve had small successes but, overall, they’ve been spectacularly unsuccessful. And SAP’s Business ByDesign is a disaster. SAP said it would have 10,000 customers [for SaaS Business ByDesign] within a couple of years. And yet they have less than 100 today, after all that hype and marketing. We use, and I like it. But I would’ve bought the product even if it was not SaaS.

Q: Theoretically, the business case for SaaS seems fairly straightforward.
Harry: Yes, but because all your costs are up front, and your revenue is over a five year period, the more you sell, the more you lose. You don't break-even till the four-and-a-half year mark, but here's a bigger problem--there's no guarantee that that customer is still going to be yours in four years' time. Getting signed up as a SaaS customer is fast, but getting out is just as fast. Whereas traditional software is like cocaine -- you're hooked. It's too difficult and expensive to switch providers once you've invested in one. If it were easier to jump ship, a lot of people would've hit the eject button on SAP a long time ago.

Well there you have it. Traditional software is like cocaine —buy it and you’re hooked.

Lawson CEO Harry Debes
Say No To CEO Cocaine Dealers

While Debes is clearly either clueless or comical, his comments underscore why a new breed of business software providers has seemingly emerged from nowhere, acquired global market share and may be poised to seriously threaten several of the largest business software makers in the world.

During these last few years while entrenched enterprise software publishers Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Lawson have cast doubt, injected FUD and mocked the software as a service (SaaS) uprising with ridicule, has become the highest growth business software application provider in the world, NetSuite has reached the public markets and yesterday's start-up SaaS ERP companies such as Intacct and Aplicor have each acquired hundreds of customers around the world - all while Lawson's stock has lost about half its value since the release of SaaS business software systems. Not a coincidence I suggest. Beyond casting himself in the role of a cocaine dealer, Debes' remarks clearly show a material lack of customer understanding, an unwavering self absorbed righteousness, a reckless defensive posture and the effects of a bury your head in the sand approach to business evolution. Permalink

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SAP Chairman Declares "We had a shitty CRM system"

April 10, 2008. Not exactly the words you would expect to hear from SAP co-founder and Chairman Hasso Plattner, however, in response to the pointed jabs and not so sincere remarks by CEO Marc Benioff, Plattner decried "We had a shitty CRM system" as a reason why the software giant failed to win CRM business against smaller rivals such as

Hasso Plattner and Marc Benioff

Hasso and Benioff faced off at the Churchhill Club's Computer History Museum event. In an obvious and predictable antaganistic approach, Benioff said, "SAP needs to write its new apps on our platform, and I need to help him do that because there is no way he can figure that out." When Plattner responded, "We have the largest software development project in our history, with 2,500 developers developing on demand", Benioff tauntingly retorted, "You have 2,500 developers and 2,100 interfaces. All that and no customer success." Oooh that kinda hurts. This of course isn't the first jab at the German software giant. Benioff previously stated in an interview with Charlie Cooper, "With SAP, you really have not seen innovation in the last 10 years. If you think about what is the one thing that SAP has ever innovated, what have they created that's unique to the industry or value-added technology? I have a hard time thinking about what SAP is going to be known for at the end of the day." Ouch. I kinda feel sorry for the old guy. Permalink

crm software Replaces Staff Bonuses with Chocolate Bars (not everyone pleased)

December 12, 2007. Apparently some staff failed to receive their year-end bonuses because certain financial metrics (outside their direct control) failed to materialize - even though the company hit its magical million users plateaux. In an attempt to make up for the unexpected financial shortful, the staff have turned to selling company paraphernalia normally used for journalist presents on ebay. The ebay seller and employee comments on the auction site, "It doesn't make up for the 10% of our bonus that HR cuts off without telling us because we didn't meet some alleged profit milestones set by who-knows.  Maybe you can help me buy that porche my manager promised me when I joined years and years ago."

Perhaps bonuses are dependent upon the moons lining up or the mood of CEO Marc Benioff. Or perhaps this is just another case of a Silicon Valley technology company moving the goal post after the ball's been kicked. Oh yea, the wining ebay bid came to $12.50 plus $5.00 shipping.

crm software Hacked

October 22, 2007. In a not so funny story and as reported in the Washington Post, MarketWatch and various other web sites, hackers successfully breached's hosted system, retrieved over a million customer records and have successfully used that customer data against the customers themselves in phishing scams. Other misuse and damages stemming from the compromised customer data is expected. Two of the more notable compromised customer accounts were ADP and SunTrust Banks. I believe ADP is the nations largest payroll processing provider and also one of's largest customers (although that might now be changing). While the investigations are ongoing, reports indicate that about 900,000 ADP customer accounts and about 40,000 SunTrust Banks customer accounts were hacked and stolen from the hosted database. These ADP and SunTrust customers have already been phished by the hackers - many successfully.

Now the extended questions persist. Why was's hosted system vulnerable and are other hosted CRM software solutions vulnerable? For the first question, I really don't know. Phishing is an extremely common threat for which most hosted software companies and the rest of the online world retain adequate defenses. I'm really surprised that the CRM industry software giant was compromised to this magnitude. I can only suspect that this is an isolated incident. While I'm concerned that such a recognized and frankly simple hack could break down the security walls of the largest CRM software hosting company, I've reviewed the web sites of several competitors (NetSuite, Oracle, Aplicor and Entellium) and noted that these CRM software companies publish security credentials, audits and certifications. Perhaps its no coincidence that the CRM company that got hacked is the one that doesn't publish - are presumably achieve - the security riggers and safeguards of the others. Just my opinion.

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Sage US Executive Team Ousted in Intercontinental Coup

October 19, 2007. In a move that even most in the CRM industry would refer to as sudden and drastic, the UK driven Sage Group leadership team has ousted the US executive team in a single swoop. The Sage Group is the UK's largest software company and the US operation was the largest division of the Sage Group. Not long after Andrew Corbin, CEO of the health care software division and Julian Horn-Smith, Chairman, left Sage over what were referred to as "differences in culture and style", the UK team terminated the North American executive team of US CEO (Ron Verni), CFO (Jim Eckstaedt), CTO (Jim Foster) and SVP (Taylor Macdonald). Swirling rumors suggest that more blood letting may be coming.

Sage says that this event was in no way a payback for that whole American independence thing a few hundred years ago and instead suggests that a new management team with a new culture and focus is needed now that the business has reached $1 billion in annual revenues. However, you gotta think that a more gradual transition could have made more sense and fewer enemies.

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Is That Politically Correct?

May 22, 2006. Shortly after describing ERP giant SAP as "innovation-free" and referring to its software as "bulky and inefficient as it is expensive and unloved by its users", CEO Marc Benioff ratcheted up the offending remarks to include a mocking tribute to German speakers accents during an interview with the phrases such as "Vell! At SAP, let me tell you, softVARE as service is just one way to deliver softVARE!" "It's just a del-i-ver-y met-o-do-lo-gy! Customers vant hosted--and zen zay moove!"

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Salespeople Are Stupid?

March 10, 2004. In a article discussing CRM software user adoption challenges, I was completely caught off guard when CRM consultancy Green Beacon Solutions CEO, Ben Holtz, was quoted as saying:

"Salespeople are inherently pretty stupid. Their capacity to use CRM systems is so low, anyway, that the ability to integrate CRM functionality into Outlook, which they do know how to use, is crucial."

Perhaps if you start with the premise the sales people are stupid, there's nowhere to go but up.

crm software Offends the Dalai Lama (that's bad karma)

August 29, 2003. Gorilla marketer clearly showed that when it comes to public relations, garnering free publicity and shameless commercialism, there is no line that cannot be crossed. The company inserted a large image of his holiness and mass produced a poster in order to celebrate reaching the 100,000 user subscription mark. Just above the picture of a praying Dalai Lama was the company logo, the phrase "There is no software on the path to enlightenment" and the line " celebrates 100,000 enlightened subscribers." The posters were sent out as invitations to staff and press members for a September 5 event at San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall.

Unfortunately, His Holiness had no knowledge of being made the pitchman. As no permission for such a blatant marketing promotion was acquired from the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan community and the American Himalayan Foundation had a cow when they were routed with the marketing prop. CEO Marc Benioff later made a public apology in a letter that seemed to increase the media exposure even further. Benioff wrote "We had no right to suggest that either the American Himalayan Foundation or His Holiness support us"... "We made a mistake. For any harm done to the reputations of both His Holiness and the American Himalayan Foundation, we apologize."

This wasn't's first attempt to link its corporate image to Tibetan causes. In February 2003, hosted a benefit concert in New York for Tibet House that included posters displaying Tibet's Potala Palace with the company's "no software" logo in the horizon.

According to company spokeswoman Caryn Marooney, the company hadn't ruled out using Tibetan imagery in conjunction with the logo in the future, but, she indicated that the company intended to better communicate with the Tibetan community. "We just need to listen to the groups that we work with and make sure we're a good partner" said Marooney.

crm software

User Group Party Crashers

Why is it several of the largest CRM software companies like to crash their competitors user conferences? Is the old adage "all publicity is good publicity" really true? has sent 'protesters' to Siebel conferences, Siebel has sent disrupters to Oracle conferences (prior to their Oracle acquisition) and Oracle has sent out their carnival crew to SAP's conferences. The disrupters often use full drama and a portfolio of props that include specially decorated vehicles, airplane fly-over's with towed banners, mammoth signs and blow horns. I gotta question the perceived value and attendee feelings generated from playing the spoiler role.

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Where's The Customer Loyalty?

After bazillionaire and former boss Larry Ellison contributed a few million dollars to Marc Benioff to help him get his idea for a new hosted CRM software company off the ground, Benioff responded by ousting Ellison from the board of directors in 2000.

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Benioff Mudsling's Silicon Valley's Heavyweights

Benioff's slurring of words, such as 'titanic' for Microsoft's Titan product or 'confusion' for Oracle's fusion product come across as cliche. However, I gotta admit, as a former PeopleSoft implementation guy, found it personally amusing when Benioff commented that the reason PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway decided to buy J.D. Edwards instead of Siebel is because Tom Siebel has a greater Napoleon complex than Conway does. "Tom is even shorter than Craig," he noted, "which is really short."

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