by Thomas Wailgum

First Annual Enterprise Software Awards: Mediocrity, Meltdowns and More

Jul 14, 20099 mins
Enterprise Applications

The first-ever show honored ineptitude, arrogance and near-smackdowns in the enterprise software.

The first-annual Enterprise Software Unplugged Awards were recently held at the Palace Hotel Ballroom, honoring software mediocrity, customer negligence and business ineptitude in the enterprise software industry.

The Award is known as the “ESUie” (pronounced s – you – ee), and winners receive the prestigious ESUie statue—a tin replica of a software installation CD. No video exists of the event, but here’s a transcript of the 2009 ESUie Awards Ceremony:

Master of Ceremonies Tom Bergeron, host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”: “Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the first-annual ESUie Awards Show, where we will look back and honor the highlights and lowlights in the enterprise software industry!”

“It’s great to see so many Silicon Valley celebrities and cut-throat competitors all under the same roof. We’ve got Oracle’s Larry Ellison seated right over there, and there’s SAP’s Leo Apotheker. Of course, there’s Marc Benioff of, and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer.”

“Boy, if it gets any chillier in here, we’re going to have to turn the heat on!” [Audience laughs politely] “There’s so much animosity in the audience, I hope someone frisked these guys before the show for any concealed weapons!” [A couple of chuckles] “I mean, geez. The last time I saw this many icy stares, I was in the middle of my second divorce.”

“OK, folks. Let’s get right to the Awards!”

The Award for The Most Hypocritical Marketing Campaign goes to…SAP! In late 2008, right after SAP told its own employees to “not order any new IT equipment at this time,” the German software giant launched a marketing offensive, reminding its current and would-be customers that a recessionary environment is when “great companies invest in SAP software to beat the competition!”

M.C.: “Great stuff! Accepting on behalf of SAP is CEO Leo Apotheker, who, I should point out, speaks five languages fluently.”

Apotheker: “Ich hasse Dich.”

M.C.: “What does that mean?”

Apotheker: “It’s German for ‘I hate you.'”

M.C.: “Thank you! Leo Apotheker, everyone!”

The Award for “The Most Half-Hearted Attempt at Helping Customers During a Recession” goes to…Oracle! When SAP came to its senses in spring 2009 and “modified” the new pricing program for SAP Enterprise Support (delaying much-talked-about maintenance price increases), Oracle responded to its customers recessionary and budgetary woes by announcing a very small and short-term pricing discount for enterprise software customers sticking with aging versions of Oracle applications (JDE, E-Business, PeopleSoft). Oracle Corporation: We feel your pain!

M.C.: “Accepting on behalf of Oracle is CEO Larry Ellison.”

Ellison: “I also hate you and everyone else here. I’m going to go fly my jet plane.”

M.C.: “He’s really not leaving, folks. Thanks, Larry!”

The “Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree” Award goes to…Marc Benioff, of! Benioff’s use of tactics and hyperbole that he learned from his former boss, Larry Ellison, has been legendary during the past year. Benioff said that software-as-a-service models, like’s CRM line, couldn’t even be compared to “mature, dying models like Oracle and SAP,which are maybe already dead.” Benioff also relished the spotlight when he announced that his company was “proud to be the first billion-dollar cloud computing company.” Dropping even more truth bombs, Benioff added: “At a time when capital is precious, big-ticket software purchases just don’t make sense.”

M.C.: “Ladies and gentlemen, Marc Benioff!”

Benioff: “Oracle and SAP will be out of business by the end of 2010!”

M.C.: “Great stuff, Marc!”

The “Thank You for All the Billable Hours” Award, Sponsored by the American Bar Association, goes to…Oracle and SAP! The TomorrowNow-SAP-Oracle legal saga dragged on into 2009, with no end data in sight and many critical questions have yet to be resolved about third-party maintenance. Representatives of law firms on both sides couldn’t be with us tonight to present the award because they’re all at their vacation homes in Monaco.

M.C.: “Here to accept the Award are Larry Ellison and Leo Apotheker. C’mon up fellas!” [Apotheker looks uncomfortably at Ellison, who’s grinning from ear to ear.]

Apotheker: “Why don’t we end this ordeal, Larry?”

Ellison: “Not on your life.”

M.C.: “Thanks guys!”

M.C.: “Now comes to the entertainment part of the ESUies. Please watch this short video on the vendor-client relationship.”

The Vendor Client Relationship — In Real World Situations

M.C.: “Very funny stuff. Back to the show!”

The Barbara Walters Award for “The Best Quote About the Current State of Enterprise Software by a CIO” goes to…Jennifer Allerton, CIO of Roche, the pharmaceutical company. In a Q&A after SAP’s Business Suite 7 unveiling, Roche delivered (while seated right next to Leo Apotheker) this gem: “The [SAP software] upgrades, themselves, tend to be not adding value to the business.”

M.C.: “Ladies and gentlemen, truer words have not been spoken about enterprise software in 2009! Jennifer, please come on up!”

Allerton: “My CEO, CFO and PR manager wanted me to say that I really, really do like SAP and their fine products. Thank you.”

M.C.: “Isn’t that great!”

The Award for “The Best Quote About the Current State of Enterprise Software by a Vendor or Consultant” goes to…Rimini Street CEO Seth Ravin, the third-party maintenance provider for Oracle and SAP apps. Upon announcing new support for SAP’s R/3 applications, Ravin delivered this astute observation: SAP and Oracle “customers have more software already than they know what to do with—they’re oversoftwared.”

M.C.: “Ladies and gentlemen, Seth Ravin!”

[Ravin walks toward the stage and is jointly tackled by Ellison and Apotheker]

M.C.: “Moving on….”

The “Hey, On-Premise Vendors: I Thought You Said SaaS Can’t Scale?!” Award goes to…General Electric CIO Gary Reiner and Chiquita Brands CIO Manjit Singh! Both Reiner and Singh ignored big-vendor FUD and successfully rolled out global SaaS applications—GE’s a supply chain partner application; Chiquita’s an on-demand HR ERP app. Said Reiner: “When we judge a solution, we are indifferent to whether it’s hosted by a supplier or by us. We look for the functionality of the solution and at the price.” (And Reiner and Singh weren’t alone this past year.)

M.C.: “Here to accept there awards are CIOs Gary Reiner and Manjit Singh!”

Reiner: “What’s the big deal?”

Singh: “Yeah. Who cares who hosts the application? Just as long as it works.”

The “I Can’t Make Up My Mind About SAP’s Valuation” Award goes to…Merrill Lynch analyst Raimo Lenschow! Lenschow’s flip-flopping on SAP’s stock is legendary: He downgraded the stock in November 2008 from “buy” to “neutral”; then he raised his rating back to “buy” in January 2009; and then changed course again with a downgrade in late spring back to “neutral.” But wait, just hours before the ESUies broadcast began in July, Bank of America – Merrill Lynch upgraded its “neutral” position to “buy.”

M.C.: “How about that! Lenschow was supposed to be here to pick up his Award, but at the last minute he changed his mind and said he wasn’t coming.”

M.C.: “Now comes to the second part of our entertainment. Please watch this video of what SaaS vendors think of traditional software providers’ futures.”

The Future of Boxed Software By SaaS vendor KashFlow

M.C.: “I guess we get the picture after about 20 seconds. On with the show!”

The “Award for the Prettiest Penny of the Decade” goes to…NetSuite! In the February 2009, more than 10 years after it was founded, the on-demand ERP vendor finally turned a profit in its fourth quarter: Non-GAAP net income for Q4 2008 was $534,000, or $0.01 per share.

M.C.: “That’s one pretty penny, folks! guess SaaS ERP vendors can make money. Accepting on behalf of NetSuite is Larry Ellison, who helped get NetSuite off the ground and is a major investor.”

Ellison: “I like to have my cake and eat it too.”

M.C.: “Yes you do.”

The “Software Lawsuit Most Likely to Become a John Grisham Novel” Award goes…to Waste Management and SAP! Their ongoing legal dispute—including the mysterious and missing presale product demo—has been entertaining to watch. Waste Management reported in May 2009 that the company’s decision to abandon its SAP software was responsible for $30 million in lost profits, according to an IDG News Service article. For its part, SAP claimed in a filing it “has engaged more than 25 contract attorneys and spent millions of dollars to defend itself in the suit.” And the hits keep on coming.

M.C.: “What a waste of money! Since neither Waste Management nor SAP wants to collect their awards, we’ll throw them in the recycling bin!”

The “Best of Luck to You Implementing SAP…and Here’s the Phone Number of Waste Management’s Law Firm” Award goes to…the United Nations’ IT staff! The UN is reportedly going forward with a $300 million global SAP implementation. The UN announcement noted that criteria for the ERP selection included “the software’s performance in low-bandwidth locations, so as to ensure its ability to support remote peacekeeping operations.”

M.C.: “I don’t know about you, but I like their chances! The UN is currently boycotting this show, so they couldn’t attend.”

The “Brangelina/Madonna General Excellence in Hubris” Award goes to…Larry Ellison and Oracle! The database and application company bought Sun in 2009, leaving Oracle’s harried customers to speculate about the future Oracle roadmap—if there is one. As to Ellison’s successor, nobody knows or dares to offer up a name. Long live Larry!

M.C.: “Larry, please come on up!”

Ellison [from his seat]: “I don’t feel like it!!”

M.C.: “Allrightythen!”

Finally, the “Not in a Million Years” Award goes to…’s Enterprise Software Unplugged blogger Tom Wailgum, for his fictional portrayal of what an SAP retail Store would look like. Here’s how Wailgum imagines that the SAP Store “experience” might go, complete with an austere concrete-and-glass store, which offers two unoccupied HP PCs (with labels that read “For Power Users Only”) and display case after display case filled with shimmering CDs.

M.C.: “I’m sure SAP loved that one?”

Wailgum: “No. No they didn’t.”

M.C.: “Terrific!”

M.C.: “That’s a wrap everyone. Thanks and have a great evening! Off-premise, of course!”

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