Strong Opinions @marksbirch

Random thoughts from a NYC entrepreneur and investor about start-ups, technology and the people that make it all happen. Also find time for good tunes and good food.
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It’s tempting to take the quick wins early on. But there’s nothing sweeter than winning that first true, unaffiliated deal. It took us 15 months. Yes, 15 months. The rigor and measurement they put us through made us go back to the drawing board again and again, but because of that, our technology works better, and each deal after that was easier to win.

Excellent article by the CEO of LatticeEngines about the importance of finding early customers outside of the Valley, helping to validate your product using more “real world” users (i.e. not early adopters).

(via micflash)

Enterprise tech is another level of difficult.  The deals are few and far between in the early days.  You struggle to find anyone willing to listen to you.  Then you have to fight through organizational morass that does not favor startups.  But each deal makes your product story clearer and your sales execution sharper until you hit that inflection point where deals start to pour in.

In corporate IT, procurement processes have not traditionally been aligned with rapid development cycles and cloud-based services, which are easy to source and deploy. Developers that are accustomed to working in fast-moving environments with scalable, easy-to-implement products have long since been impeded by outdated procurement processes for new vendors, which slow down prototyping and time-to-market.

Frustrated by procurement, developers in corporate IT build and use solutions inside organizations without explicit organizational approval. This is known as shadow IT; they use the services they need when they need them, but this leads to the danger of teams and management losing control of deployed services.

Enterprise App Marketplaces Respond To Pain Points In Corporate IT via TechCrunch

This is analogous to the “shadow apps” used by business people (often in sales and marketing groups) to get things done.  Sometimes I ask people in large enterprises if they use Dropbox or Evernote for work purposes, and sheepishly they will respond yes.  Eventually the need to get something done outweighs the need to maintain corporate IT policies.  That is the new reality of IT departments, the fact that it is users, and not their processes and rules, that are choosing the tools that the business will use.

When SAP, and, specifically Hasso Plattner, said they’re going to build this in-memory database and compete with Oracle, I said. God, get me the name of that pharmacist, they must be on drugs.

The Most Controversial And Entertaining Things Larry Ellison Has Ever Said

Peter Thiel was not the only one inferring that certain tech company executives were taking illicit substances…

Acquiring Concur is the latest big deal by SAP, which agreed to buy Ariba, a business-to-business marketplace, for $4.3 billion in 2012. Earlier this year, SAP acquired Fieldglass, which helps companies manage contract employees. SAP has a market value of nearly $100 billion.

SAP Buys Concur Technologies for $8.3 Billion via The New York Times

In the olden days, technology companies that did not innovate simply went out of business.  Now they just acquire other companies and sustain themselves on the largess of hefty maintenance agreements and annual recurring SaaS contracts.  On the other hand, it does give smaller enterprise tech companies a convenient exit strategy, which is boon for the startup community.

I haven’t seen a good example of data moving from the wearable to something more robust. I am thinking of the way a Fitbit captures data and then displays graphs and charts on my phone. Certainly not all wearables will need to conform to that model, but I think it would increase the likelihood of using wearables if there were some greater payoff.

Beginning of a Paradigm via CRM Buyer

Wearables could make sense in the enterprise when integrated with business apps like CRM.  We are still very much in that awkward phase however where everyone is throwing spaghetti on the wall.  What form factors and usage modes and user experiences will work are being developed now and some early solutions show promise.  It should be noted however that enterprise mobility is in and of itself nascent, so there is a lot of time to see where things fall out in terms of personal enterprise tech hardware.

Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist” by Joi Ito

Normally I would not post TED talks, but there was a few points here that I found interesting and relevant to my work at Enhatch.  In a world that is moving much faster, the old organizational model of IT owning technology and business requesting services for technology enablement from IT is becoming archaic.  The ability to seize opportunities and gain competitive advantage are happening in much shorted cycles, faster than IT groups can deliver services.  Partly this is the result of the growing complexity of IT architectures, data, and services with fewer resources to bare.  The other reason though is that many IT organizations operate on a risk model versus an innovation model, so there is a tendency to reject new solutions over existing in-house systems already plugged into standard processes and policies.

What is needed is a new IT architecture and organizational structure that splits the functional from the infrastructure.  This enables IT to focus on securing technology platforms and the data therein while the business has the ability to control and modify the functional layer to enable their business needs.  Technology is no longer only the domain of IT as the spread of mobile devices and cloud services have demonstrated.  In the new era of IT, technology is delivered faster, business can deploy almost instantly, and IT can dedicate their efforts and resources to the fast and reliable delivery of corporate information in the most secure fashion possible.  Instead of the wholesales centralization of systems therefore, functionality and business software exists in a federated model within businesses while data is the currency that is protected and securely delivered by IT.  This is the new business agility which embodies the new reality of “Deploy or Die”.

I’m not really sure the CIO can be a new-business or revenue generator," he says. "IT is a steward of data - integrates, stores, manages security. But who actually uses the data and can make strategic decisions? The business.

CIOs Consider Putting a Price Tag on Data via CIO

It is not the systems that are as important, but the data.  As more functional business application and process engines migrate out to the business units, CIO’s will take on more responsible for ensuring infrastructure.  Key to that is guarding over the data, especially as that data becomes increasing more important and strategic for enterprises.

We’ll spend a lot of time bringing product to market, but we need to plan for the fact that a launch gives us a six-month head start and no more,” says Gary Booker, CMO of Dixons Retail. “While our competitors catch up, we have to get into the mindset of already moving onto the next thing.

The Rebirth of the CMO via The Harvard Business Review (via enhatch)

Business agility is not just a cliche, it is the reality that is faced by marketers trying to identify new markets.  And it is not only marketers, but agility is also crucial to product developers trying to build innovative products and sales trying to get an edge over the competition.   While things are moving at faster cycles, our technology systems to support business functions are still stuck in the architectures and models of the 90’s.  It is time for a new business technology architecture.

(via enhatch)

Even Apple, king of the consumer platforms, has shown reluctance to build an enterprise platform offer. One big reason for that, according to The Register, is the continuing presence and dominance of Microsoft.

In healthcare a platform strategy would mean a platform that embraces usability and attraction for patient, physician, nurse, other care providers, insurer, hospital, and integration with third party data providers, open APIs for analytics companies and so on.

There is no reason to believe or presume that IBM has the skill or goodwill to create such a platform, and in such a way that people would flock to it. Platforms with a consumer-centric flair (think Uber and AirbnB) are unpredictable beasts but they generally rely on globalization for scale, a missing ingredient in health.

Apple-IBM Alliance Is Already Threatened By Start-ups via Forbes

Many people believe that this deal is going to spur IBM to become a credible mobile enterprise business applications software provider and flood the market with industry specific offerings.  I think much nimbler startups that embrace mobile at their core are going leave IBM in the dust.