TomorrowNow Lawsuit Underlines the Fact that to SAP and Oracle, Customers are Nothing More than Chess Pieces in A Wall Street Game

Posted on November 9, 2010


TomorrowNow was founded in December 1998 by Andrew Nelson and Seth Ravin, to provide upgrade and technical service to PeopleSoft licensees with large, complex environments. In March 2002, the company changed its business to focus on providing third-party maintenance and support service to companies licensing enterprise software.

In January, 2005, TomorrowNow was purchased by SAP AG, a competitor of PeopleSoft and of Oracle Corporation, which purchased PeopleSoft in 2005. In 2008 SAP closed the company because of a lawsuit by Oracle.  Andrew Nelson and most senior managers had already resigned in 2007.

Source: Wikipedia

Ahhh . . . the cottage industry of the enterprise application market.  You gotta love the fact that after spending in some instances tens of millions of dollars, ERP customers were usually required to invest millions more for the expertise of smaller firms to make said applications work.

Think of it this way, you buy a car but have to pay extra to get the key to actually drive it.  How many of us would actually go for this set-up in the real-world?  Unfortunately, and this is why the enterprise software industry is a racket that is more reflective of Wall Street morals than Main Street customer service orientation, too many public and private sector organizations did just that, and with dismal results.

Like spoiled children fighting over the same toy, the solipsistic mindsets that led to the suit has absolutely nothing to do with how customers might have been affected by what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison referred to as “a brilliant idea” regarding SAP’s acquisition of TomorrowNow.

A brilliant idea!  For whom?  Therein of course lies the rub and, what has been inherently wrong with the enterprise software industry from almost the very beginning.  Greed and Testosterone plain and simple!

Think of this for just a moment . . .

Did TomorrowNow deliver an important and much needed service to PeopleSoft clients?  Have you tried to drive your car without an ignition key?  How far did you get?

Oracle, for a variety of reasons that ultimately come down to greed and testosterone, acquires PeopleSoft.  SAP, then goes out and purchases TomorrowNow.  I keep hearing the words to Melanie’s “Brand New Key” song over and over again.  You know the one . . . “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, you’ve got a brand new key.”

I rode my bicycle past your window last night,

I roller skated to your door at daylight,

It almost seems like you’re avoiding me,

I’m okay alone, but you got something I need.

Of course, there was never any likelihood of either party getting together in the spirit of the Melanie song.  In fact a more appropriate analogy would be one where SAP was trying to play the spoiler.  A Watergate of sorts, at least in spirit where SAP acquires the key to PeopleSoft’s success for the sole purpose of – let’s be frank, we’re all adults here – sticking it to Oracle.  A dirty trick indeed!

As soon as SAP was faced with the Oracle lawsuit they closed the company (re TomorrowNow) down.  As a means of creating practical context, close your eyes for a second and image that you are anxious to get somewhere fast.  You walk up to your car, and at that very moment when you need it the most, someone who has your car key throws it down the sewer.  This is tantamount to what SAP did for no other reason that to screw around with Oracle.  I mean, its not like SAP had a car themselves in which the key would work.

Now let’s turn our attention to Oracle for a moment.  Yes this is the same Oracle who, during my late nineties R&D period when I was looking for possible options upon which to build my new agent-based platform, was informed by EDS that “Oracle will not get out of bed for anything less than $1 million.”

Anyway, I digress.  Let’s once again look at Oracle as we would the maker of our now useless car – after all, without a key what good is it?  Instead of standing-up and protesting how SAP’s actions have hurt their customers, Mr. Magnanimous himself, Larry Ellison bemoans losing what is purported to being 358 customers from a sea of thousands.  I am telling you, when I one day arrive at the Pearly Gates right after asking Saint Peter “why mosquitoes,” my very next question will be “why Larry Ellison?”

Nowhere have I seen such a blatant disregard for the customer as I have repeatedly seen in the enterprise application industry.

Here is the great thing though . . . consider the emergence of SaaS applications such as the one offered by Rosslyn Analytics, whose spend management solution RA.Pid® “re-sets the industry’s average cost of acquiring spend visibility from $75,000 to $99.”  Now when you also look at the emergence of the non-consultancy model being championed by firms such as Capgemini, you can see why you could safely say goodbye to the ERP support cottage industry, and likely goodbye to Oracle and SAP as we know them.

In short, the market not only got a brand new pair of roller skates, they also got the brand new key!