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Enterprise software sucks.
We don’t talk about it much here at hn, but think about it. Every man-made object you encounter every day was manufactured somewhere. And moved, more than once. Now add in all the sales, marketing, customer service, operations, accounting, finance, human resources, etc., etc., etc. needed to support that manufacturing and distribution. Next, add financial markets, healthcare, energy, entertainment, etc., etc., etc. and you have tons of stuff. But you don’t see it and rarely think about it. Kinda like most of the iceberg being underwater.
And all of this needs software. And most of what they have sucks. I mean really sucks. Enterprise software is so bad that there are multi-billion dollar industries devoted to consulting on how to use it, how to share it, and how to store it in data warehouses and harvest it. It’s so bad that lots of people have to dump the data out of their enterprise systems and into Microsoft Excel just to get anything done.
When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he said because that’s where the money is.
What banks were in the 1930’s, enterprise IT is in the 21st century.
via Hacker News
In our ongoing theme around the challenges of enterprise tech (to put it mildly), we found this classic thread from Hacker News from a few years back. Guess what? Nothing much as changed.
At Enhatch, we are doing our very best to rethink the way business apps get created and deployed to users. For one, we believe most needs in the enterprise could easily be handled by elegantly crafted apps that are available on mobile devices. That is where employees are spending more and more of their day doing work and the device they are most comfortable with. But more importantly, why are we not giving business users the ability to create their own apps and their own processes that conform to the way they work? Maybe users, and not IT department or outside consultants, know best as to what they want and when they need it and how to get it done.
It is time we rob the enterprise IT vendors and raid the armies of the systems integrators, and like Robin Hood bring joy, riches, and freedom to the users from the tyranny of bad technology.
Some smart thoughts on the massive $357 billion transfer in IT spend that is about to happen as a new wave of enterprise business apps companies emerge.
Enormous changes are afoot in the C-suite at companies at every level of scale and growth. We built Bowery Capital on the thesis that roughly $357 billion would change hands over the next ten years through the swapping out of old technology for new. This perspective comes from years of seeing Internet natives becoming IT decision-makers, a concept on the rise, but this is something we are just at the beginning of.
When we look at the current state of enterprise tech, we also see a massive tectonic shift of technology dollars in the works. We are not quite there yet mostly because we are in a generational leadership cycle where digital natives (and even more potentially disruptive mobile natives) are just entering the C-suite and enterprise has lagged somewhat in adopting the innovations brought in through the consumer tech space. Enterprise 2.0 has been more of a whimper rather than a roar of disruption.
That being said, Mike brings up a couple of very critical points that will lead this shift towards a new generation of enterprise technology leaders:
- Disintermediation of IT
- Deep Verticalization
Consumer tech has influenced the enterprise in two ways. First, it has made the general public much more savvy and hands on with technology. You can thank Apple and the iPhone for that. But even more so was the App Store and the idea of snackable apps that let anyone try unlimited numbers of apps for free or for just a few dollars. This leads to the second key point which is that apps have taught consumers to expect better experiences. When you had to pay tens or hundreds of dollars for software, consumers just gutted out poor user experiences because they had little choice but to use the software. Now if an app does not meet expectations immediately, it can be deleted without a thought.
Those same expectations are driving user behavior in enterprises where users are voting with their smartphones and tablets the type of apps they will use. The result is that they are avoiding the corporate sanctioned apps and using readily available apps from the app store that are much better and provide higher value of immediate value to employees. This means that the corporate rollout of Salesforce gets passed over by sales reps for apps that actually give them immediate value and make their jobs easier. It is not IT that is delivering value to user through technology, it is users themselves bringing in and owning the technology infrastructure.
The other trend that is accelerating is the desire for companies to seek industry specific versions of horizontal software. At Enhatch, we have encountered companies in the medical device space, the building supply industry, and the big-ticket industrial manufacturing market that have CRM but have gotten little usage. Why? Because the software does not work for the people in the field and how they do business. It is not as simple as changing labels on screens with industry appropriate lingo, it is about the workflow and processes that are specific to particular industries and how easy it is to mold those elements into the software.
With Enhatch, we have melded these trends of verticalization and disintermediation. Our platform gives enterprises both the flexibility to create apps that users want while incorporating industry specific functionality. That we do this in a way that gives the task of app creation to user themselves is what changes the entire dynamic of software delivery in organizations. CMO’s and CSO’s have direct control over what and when and how of the apps that enable their business units. That is where the real shift in tech dollars will be happening and why the Oracle’s and SAP’s of the world that control the CIO office today are going to be quaking in their boots.
But what I want to talk about today is the empty box problem. What I hope to convince you of today is that the problem of the empty box for IBM is the same problem that enterprises face when trying to deliver great user experiences. The modern process of creating great UX sits counter to the modern operating processes of large enterprises.
So why did it take IBM 9 weeks to ship an empty box? Quite simply it is a matter of physics. The mass of IBM was so large that the energy required to move anything through it equaled at minimum 9 weeks.
Large enterprise clients have similar problems with doing anything. Just to wrap their hands around a problem requires the problem to be of a certain size.
Shipping an Empty Box – UX in the Enterprise by Jon Lax
An absolutely brilliant read about the challenges of implementing great user experiences within large companies. Sometimes we refer to this as the turning the aircraft carrier problem, where it takes so long to execute the turn that it impacts every other facet of operating the ship. Course corrections are just not possible given the size of the ship.
However, change is in the air as the article goes onto explaining. Time to market is becoming more critical for enterprises as markets change faster and respond faster to change. The consumerization of the enterprise is ushering in innovation at the grassroots with devices and apps that give power to end-users. And technologies providers are adapting to these new realities by offering tools that empower users to own and guide experiences. That speaks directly to what we are doing with Enhatch and how we enable sales & marketing teams to deploy mobile apps geared for their needs.
Savvy entrepreneurs and venture investors tend to “think big”, meaning that they build companies that go after big markets and especially those with incumbents that are ripe for disruption. As a venture capital investor, on the top of my list for 2014? Enterprise software, a $120 billion dollar market dominated by a small handful of very large and 20+ year-old vendors. Due to the profound technological shifts of SaaS and mobile, these giants are incredibly vulnerable to disruption and are starting to come under siege by a new generation of scrappy, forward-thinking challengers. The stakes in this war are enormous. To underscore the scale, consider that four of the largest players (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP) account for more than $750 billion dollars of market capitalization.
I agree with much of this and all told the next wave of enterprise software will be even greater to become a trillion-dollar market. Why such a large market? Because the four big vendors do not even account for the numerous vertical industries that have their own unique platforms or even lack any software platform to begin with. The other factor is that the current wave of SaaS vendors will soon buckle under the weight of overwrought platforms that have been built out over the course of a decade. They have done a remarkable job taking marketshare from the previous generation of enterprise vendors. With mobile apps taking over the enterprise however, the newer mobile-first / mobile-only software providers will quickly eat into the Web SaaS companies. They are all in the castle together and the mobile crusaders are coming to bring down the enterprise empire to establish a new order. This will be fun to watch.
Is the enterprise user experience overhyped? via diginomica
This is why enterprise Web SaaS apps cannot deliver on a stellar and engaging mobile experience. They are pushing busy, text field oriented interfaces onto a smaller screen with very different navigational controls and user flows. This is a cognitive disconnect that causes users to abandon mobile apps in droves. It’s much better to start mobile first.
I am unsure that an IT department can create the perfect enterprise app because they probably don’t suffer from the same pain that the “business” people suffer from. All the customer development and wireframes in the world does not replace the pure understanding of the pain…Can you imagine what would happen if enterprise employees were able to solve their own problems by building their own enterprise applications without any code?
This changes the entire game. Getting IT out of the business applications business is a huge mindset change, but doing it could lead us to much better systems that are oriented to what users actually need.
It is still an Apple world however when it comes to enterprises, where Apple tablets command over a 90% share. Now that is something I would have never expected, but the more restrictive nature of Apple’s ecosystem and iOS have made the iPad a more desirable choice for companies. This will surely change over time, but that is a pretty impressive display of mindshare in the enterprise.