When using the term "enterprise software" about thingamy I am met with much blank stares and urges to change theme - enterprise is boring...
As said earlier - "boring is good" as it attract much less fluff as in money-willing-to-be-lost and fifteen competitors a week after you've launched a new service.
Looking at VC portfolios I cannot but shake my head - "how on earth do they think me-too products can yield the highest reward-to-risk ratio?". A mystery no less. Or a different economics professor than the ones I've listened to.
Add the size of the market being bigger by a double digit factor - and enterprise software seems to be a good place to be even when it never gets any "oohs or ahhs".
Quite a few started-in-consumer software firms have found out and are hard at making an effort to enter the enterprise market, typically among the "social software" crowd. And who can blame them? Not much willingness to pay for services coupled with a online advertising market about 1/20th of what banks alone will spend on IT this year, and where Google have like 77% of the market - that is tough. While at the same time, enterprise is social per definition.
Social software is thus interesting, so allow me throw out a few traits often used to define it:
- Allow users to interact and share data with other users.
- Social technologies or Conversational technologies used in organisations.
- Knowledge creation and storage that is carried out through collaborative writing.
- Conversational technologies seen as tools to support work units and the individual knowledge worker.
- They create actual communities.
"Communities formed by "bottom-up" processes are often contrasted to the less vibrant collectivities formed by "top-down" software, in which users' roles are determined by an external authority and circumscribed by rigidly conceived software mechanisms (such as access rights). Given small differences in policies, very similar software can produce radically different social outcomes."Precisely!
That's almost like defining the difference between ERP and BRP - where the last actually requires less rigid policies, the typical situation for the knowledge worker. Every step in a Barely Repeatable process has to be "free" in the sense of having a waste number of choices leaving the operator freedom to judge earlier results and choose next step from there. Passing the bucket kind of process; "Hmm, no sign of fracture in this Xray, time for a blood test." - but within limits of course, the MD would not suggest "...time to change mufflers". As enterprises have a purpose they will have some underlying structure, obviously.
This is precisely what the thingamy is good at, all of the above, including adding a snippet of structure - as little or as much as you want - tweak those policies to have radically better results.
Hmm, thingamy is in fact "Social software"... and solidly so.
- It needs no hierarchy nor any rules or policies (but you can have them if you must).
- It connects people when things needs to be done.
- It goes beyond sharing of data, it moves the data you want to have moved to the people you want at the time you want.
- It allows any kind of transparency.
- It captures all that happens and increases knowledge by every thing done. Nothing is lost.
- It automates the boring stuff like reports - that can be generated automagically from real activities.
- Web-based, check. Tweakable and changeable at any time, check. Social, yah.
But on the other hand, conceptually, better to be the enterprise Social software with the by far deepest well of features than being the simple (on the surface) Enterprise software that still have not produced a chocolate bar ever, not to talk about a million per hour that some of my bigger competitors can brag about.
Food for thought on a Tuesday morning... ah well, back to reality and testing semantic process engines and other radical goodies!