I spent the week of September 16th in Europe, at the Liaison Europe Converge 2012 held at Egham just outside of London and then at the Salon Ecommerce 2012 in Paris. It was a whirlwind trip that gave me an interesting perspective on what is going on in Europe when it comes to data integration, EDI, the cloud and ecommerce.
Cloud: Cloud adoption in Europe is at least three years behind North America. Gartner Analyst Paolo Malinverno provided a very good overview of cloud adoption in Europe from a variety of angles; B2B integration, privacy, compliance and A2A. Paolo highlighted four issues that are currently holding Europe back. They are the diverse and changing privacy regulations within the EU, complexity of B2B processes as a result of the privacy regulations, the undesired effects of some of the EU policies, and finally the impact of Euro crisis. Paolo ended by stating that these four factors will not hinder cloud adoption but merely slow it down. The key he indicated was that data location, will in the end dictate which EU regulations are enforced and this he stated spoke for a need for a high level of transparency in cloud offerings within the EU. Reminded me of the Canadian situation where companies of a certain size are sensitive to data location.
Data Integration: At Liaison’s Converge we had two presentations on data integration, one from SITA and one from O’Neill. Both presentations showed that high level complex data integration is alive and well in Europe. SITA deal with an amazing amount of very, very complex airline data from around the world in a multitude of formats and with varying time sensitivities. Their approach and methodology to data integration was very interesting. Maintain simplicity while leveraging commonality. O’Neill’s European Manager of Integrations outlined the approach O’Neill Europe used to untangle the complexity of data movement within the European operations to simplify data integration. I especially loved the integration – data movement game they developed using wool. Brilliant!
Ecommerce: After attending the Internet Retailer show in Chicago in June, walking the Salon Ecommerce in Paris was an interesting contrast. In French speaking Europe two shopping cart platforms dominate – Presta Shop and Magento. Presta is by far the leader. The French do a lot of outsourced shopping cart development outsourcing to Tunisia and Morocco. The logistics players I spoke to were very much like their North American counterparts however, the eye opener for me was they all built their own integration stacks. What I understood was there was a real lack of knowledge of the available middleware platforms. Perhaps a language barrier, but frankly I doubt it.
Automated payment gateways were also all the rage. PCI compliance seemed to be an after thought, which really surprised me given the EU regulations regarding privacy and data collection. Like in North America the big banks are just getting into the game.
Besides the insights into European ecommerce, I had the pleasure of catching an EPL football game with Nathan Camp of Liaison Technologies. Nothing like watching a football match live. Nathan showed us his true colours, supporting Fulham as they beat West Brom Albion three to nil.