Welcome to Summer! What’s changed since the Spring?

It’s officially summer here in Seattle (and everywhere else in the northern hemisphere).  The 4th of July holiday (Independence Day in the U.S.) is behind us and warm weather has finally arrived.

In January, I wrote about some things that I’d be tracking throughout the year and in April I looked back at the first quarter of the year.  Now it’s time to review the first half of the year, while also looking forward to the rest of 2011.

Business Intelligence Industry

One big recent trend has been the continued growth of Microsoft BI.  You might ask “What is Microsoft BI?” since many people don’t even realize Microsoft has a BI offering.  That’s part of their problem – Microsoft’s message is incoherent and their products are disjointed.  In spite of those problems, they’re gaining some traction because the functionality they offer is pretty strong.  Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference is taking place this week in Los Angeles and I expect there will be some big BI announcements there.   I’ll explore this topic (including their announcements from the conference) in an upcoming post dedicated to MS BI. 

Meanwhile, SAP Business Objects is primed to catch up to Oracle and IBM Cognos with Business Objects 4, a new major release of their flagship BI suite.  Maybe they’ve already released it – maybe it’s coming soon.  Sadly, I can’t tell.  Go ahead – use your search engine and try to figure it out.  Reports from earlier this year indicate that it would be released at SAP’s Sapphire conference in May.  Since I didn’t attend that conference and I can’t find a release announcement online, I just can’t tell.  It’s a terrible job of marketing and publicity (even worse than Microsoft BI).

Oracle

Oracle announced its fiscal Q4 financials and (just like last quarter) the results were strong.  This marked Oracle’s first ever quarter of $10B in total revenue and $1B in applications revenue.  Oracle continues to be fairly quiet and subdued about Fusion Applications (the next generation of ERP/CRM offerings).  Fusion continues to be delayed – it’s still not generally available – but Oracle continues to tout its promise and its success with early adopters.  I’m still skeptical.

On the acquisition front, Oracle is again being uncharacteristically quiet.  After just one acquisition in Q1, Oracle made only a single pickup in the second quarter.  In June, Oracle announced the acquisition of FatWire Software, a web content software provider.  What’s going on with Oracle?  After nine acquisitions in 2010, the pace has slowed to a crawl.  At the Q4 earnings call, Oracle’s executives stated their belief that many companies were not overvalued and that they would not overpay to acquire them,  We’ll wait and see how long that remains true.

Musical Theatre

The Tony Awards were presented on June 12.  The big winner was The Book of Mormon, which took home 9 Tony Awards, the most of any show since The Producers won a record 12 in 2001.  Of personal interest to me was Norbert Leo Butz winning his second Tony (Leading Actor in a Musical) for his performance in Catch Me If You Can.

Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark finally opened in mid-June.  It had gone on hiatus for some retooling and script doctoring.  The reviews upon its return were better than the reviews from earlier this year, but still not very good.

Sports

Not much has changed on the sports labor front since I posted in April.  Will the threatened labor disputes in professional football and basketball result in cancelled games (or even entire cancelled seasons)?  The NFL players have been locked out, in a labor battle with the NFL owners since April.  Meanwhile, the NBA has entered its own labor battle and the 2011-2012 season looks to be in jeopardy.   In my opinion, the NFL battle will be resolved, probably within the next 10 days.  The NBA, on the other hand, looks to be positioned for a long and ugly stand-off.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the entire season were cancelled.

The Major League Baseball season is in full swing.  Notable stories of the year:

  • Many of last year’s losers are respectable in 2011
    • Seven teams lost more than 90 games in 2010, all with winning percentages of .426 or worse.
    • Four of those seven – Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirate, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Cleveland Indians are currently above .500.  That’s a tremendous turn-around for teams that were expected to be pretty bad.  In addition, the Seattle Mariners (who were also terrible in 2010) had been playing around .500 until a recent losing streak.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies look like the team to beat.  Their pitching (especially starting pitching) is dominant.  Still, the Atlanta Braves look like they’ll challenge the Phillies for the NL title.
  • Derek Jeter, a guaranteed Hall of Fame player who is paradoxically also one of the most overrated players in baseball, reached 3000 career hits – the 28th major league player to achieve that milestone.  Soon, I’ll write a post about how greatness can be overrated.

Here are my baseball predictions (with very little risk taking):

  • NL Playoffs: Philadelphia, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Atlanta
  • AL Playoffs: Boston, Cleveland, LA Angels, and the evil NY Yankees
  • World Series: Philadelphia over Boston in 6 games.

 

For now…I’ll leave you with this thought:

Enjoy the summer!

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