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Jim, DBS's fall was swift - even quicker than that of the Berlin Wall. But compared to SAP's many dimensions - regions, verticals, process coverage, product lines (including Business Objects etc), DBS was somewhat one-dimensional. Few SaaS vendors today have the broad reach...so SAP (and Oracle) are suffering from a thousand cuts, none fatal yet.

But it's good to send them a reminder of DBS. For the over $ 125 billion in apps revenues their customers have sent both vendors over last 5 years, there has been shockingly little payback.

Bill Kutik

Superb history lesson, Jim. Just to make it more specific, D&B Software was formed in 1990, when the company that already owned MSA, bought McCormick & Dodge. Together, they had 65% market share among large companies for HR and Payroll.

PeopleSoft was already writing orders for client/server like a Monday morning liquor salesman at bars by the time SmartStream made it to market.


Bill, you are quite right. To be honest, I did not go back and search for the exact dates and figures, but the additional facts support the premise of my argument well. Thanks for providing them. As I said, DBS was a little late to market.


Vinnie, you are right. The scale of success for DBS vs. SAP and Oracle is vastly different in all of the dimensions you point out. There have been more successful vendors than DBS and when they stumbled they were acquired (PeopleSoft and Siebel come to mind immediately) and that could certainly happen here. The fall may not be as fast either. I think it is a question of where the center of gravity in the business applications market resides. For more than a decade, SAP and Oracle more than anyone else have been the center of the universe. I am asking the question of whether or not they can continue as the center with this shift. It is certainly not a forgone conclusion.

Johnny Ramondino

You bring up some great points Jim.
The best advice to SAP would be to listen to their customers. With such a large install base the response would give a mixed result but still show SAP the growing momentum of SaaS in HCM.

Luckily for SAP SaaS isn't right for everyone and Service delivery does not have to be all an all or nothing situation. A hybrid approach to service delivery, one with products delivered through OnDemand, OnPremise and BPO, can give customers the choice of what is right for them at the stage and investment that they are already at.

Offering a Hybrid option, by themselves and through their partners, can help SAP balance as this center of gravity shifts.

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