James Governor's Monkchips

Smarter Planet meets Clear New World at Better Place

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I saw a tweet from SAP Israel guy Yariv Zur that immediately caught my eye this morning. It seems that:

BetterPlace chooses IBM Global Services to implement its SAP ERP (Hebrew) – http://bit.ly/JRQwZ

Over at Greenmonk we have written about better place a few times. According to Tom:

Better Place is a California-based, startup that aims to reduce global dependency on petroleum through the creation of a transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles. Typically the vehicles will be capable of having their batteries swapped out to facilitate rapid ‘refueling’ of the vehicle, analogous to swapping out rechargeable batteries for your kids (or your!) toys.

Better Place will build its first Electric Recharge Grids in Denmark, Israel and Australia where the electricity will be generated by renewable energy. In fact, Denmark and Israel have gone so far as to enact policies, which create a tax differential between zero-emission vehicles and traditional cars, to accelerate the transition to electric cars.

Well done to those geographies that have jumped aboard. Given that the lack of effective energy storage mechanisms is one of the biggest impediments to large scale Smart Grids electric cars will play a dual role – lowering emissions directly and becoming a giant distributed battery for the country. Renault Nissan is the initial vehicle partner.

But what of the applications and service oriented network that will underpin Better Place? Given Shai Agassi, Better Place’s founder, was previously head of SAP’s product and technology group its no real surprise he would choose SAP for the core transaction platform. As I understand the SOA platform will be SAP NetWeaver-based. The Better Place on SAP story is great fodder for SAP’s new Clear New World thinking, and sustainability focus. If you haven’t heard of Clear New World yet its SAP’s new campaign to drive real time business transparency at customers.

SAP however doesn’t provide implementation services, which is where IBM Global Services comes in. Better Place is of course a stone cold classic Smarter Planet play. What is Smarter Planet? Its the world of everything instrumented, everything talking to each other, everything working together more effectively. Smarter Planet is also IBM’s engagement model in an age of stimulus funding.

Smarter Planet is not about technology so much as organisation and Big Systems thinking. IBM is co-investing with governments around the world in areas such as energy, healthcare, transport systems, water quality because they are set to be the century’s biggest challenges. Big Challenges = Big Revenues.

Oracle and HP interestingly enough, are in contrast yet to really position themselves for the new era – certainly not in grand societal terms anyway. There are any number of reasons why IBM might finally decide to pull the trigger and acquire SAP – but the kind of huge projects Better Place represents could be the best one yet.

disclosure: SAP, HP and IBM are both customers.


  1. http://bit.ly/WRk0B I like the monks; but James Governor is out of his mind suggesting this would lead to a merger #forcingit
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. A company betting on sustainability not leveraging the carbon efficiency of cloud computing? A start up saddling itself with SAP and IBM economics?

    I admire Shai but I think he is letting old friends of his from SAP days influence his IT decisions…

    1. vinnie- the “carbon efficiency of cloud computing” is very far from being proved. Arguably mainframes are more power efficient than big rack and stack data centers. And mainframe is legacy – I know you don’t think innovation can happen at places like IBM but that’s just your opinion. Better Place is not your average startup – its very much transactional. Show me the transactional low carbon cloud and i will take your analysis on board.

  3. no, I think IBM is doing some neat things with several “smart” projects. But I don’t let their 5% innovation cloud the fact that the rest is ancient, over priced low innovation stuff.

    In terms of cloud efficiency I dare you to compare amazon, Google, sfdc data center carbon efficiency to that at the average IBM or HP or other outsourced DC. They have taken over old customers DCs and will milk the rev stream till end of contract life. Not green or efficient by most or even your definitions.

    On Better Place, not sure what you men by transactional and how SAP helps that. if primarily financial, purchase type transactions, several SaaS vendors could easily do it – more appropriate for the volume footprint a startup likely has.

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