Software 2007: Hoping Day 2 is less pitchy

The Software 2007 conference, going on yesterday and today down at the Santa Clara Convention Center, got off to a great start, with a opening keynote address from Hasso Plattner, an SAP co-founder who now also teaches at Stanford.

However, the day went downhill after Plattner’s talk. He was followed by keynotes from HP and Salesforce.com, which weren't as good, and by two panel discussions, one good, one not.

Still, there was enough value in the event to make it worth coming back for a second day. I hope today has more information and fewer sales pitches.

(When I looked more closely at the conference schedule, I saw that there is a solid correlation between the keynote speeches and the biggest-paying exhibitors. There were six Platinum Level sponsors: EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, SAP and Tata Consultancy Services. There were seven keynotes, from EMC, HP, Microsoft, Motorola, Salesforce.com, SAP and Tata. I guess some of the keynotes wanted to get their money's worth.)

Scorecard of Tuesday’s keynotes:

Hasso Plattner, co-founder, SAP
Company pitchiness: Medium-Low
Value of presentation: High

Plattner talked a lot about SAP’s drive toward software-as-service, and was frank in talking about the drawbacks of SAP’s traditional client/server model. Seemed to be genuinely interested in sharing his observations about how software can be built, using SAP’s ongoing development efforts for context, but he wasn’t selling SAP software, or bashing competitors.

Shane Robison, chief strategy officer and CTO, Hewlett-Packard
Company pitchiness: Medium
Value of presentation: Medium-Low

Robison talked about why HP is investing in software, and how the organization uses software in three ways: to embed into its products, to add value to commodity hardware that it sells, and as a product line in itself. Discussed the de-emphasis of OpenView as the centerpiece of HP software, such as with the Mercury acquisition, and of the economic benefits of doing R&D into software, which is more cost-effective because it’s less capital intensive. While Robison didn’t provide any advice or guidance, it was worth listening to this talk as a snapshot into the fast-changing HP.

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com
Company pitchiness: High
Value of presentation: Low

Benioff (pictured) gave his standard sales stump speech about why Salesforce.com is so great, why you shouldn’t buy software from Microsoft, Oracle and SAP, and why Salesforce.com is so great, why you should build software on their Apex platform, and why Salesforce.com is so great. One of his marketing people gave a really lame demonstration of their Appxchange platform. He just gave a sales pitch, nothing more, which added no value for the attendees.

Beyond the keynotes: The first panel covered “innovation,” was moderated by a Forbes reporter, and had panelists from Ingres and WebEx. Nothing interesting was revealed there. The second was a CIO panel moderated by a consultant, with CIOs from Unilver, FedEx, Motorola and Walt Disney. There were good insights, which I’ll blog about later.

Let’s hope that today’s talks are more informative, and less pitchy. As you can see, yesterday started well, but trended downwards.

1 comment:

folkart4 said...

totally agree on the pitches. why do software executives attend this event? Straight sales pitches, but what software company doesn't know what Salesforce or HP does.

Pay to pitch conference!

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Co-founder and editorial director of BZ Media, which publishes SD Times, the leading magazine for the software development industry. Founder of SPTechCon: The SharePoint Technology Conference, AnDevCon: The Android Developer Conference, and Big Data TechCon. Also president and principal analyst of Camden Associates, an IT consulting and analyst firm.