Goodness me. I logged on for the first time in a couple of days to see that enterprisey corner of the blogosphere has been in a frenzy. Robert Scoble began it all by wondering what the Enterprise Irregulars thought about the lack of sexiness in enterprise software.
I’m a tad late to the party.
Michael Krigsman, Nick Carr, Jason Wood, Dennis Howlett, Ed Hermann, George Ou, Ross Mayfield, Susan Scrupski, Ian Joyce, Anshu Sharma, Craig Cmehil, Sadagopan, Vinnie Mirchandani, Stowe Boyd and Alan Patrick all chime in, and the there is a lot more I’ve not seen yet. (see Techmeme for more)
|As an aside, I do find the blogosphere convention of starting posts with “I’ve met you and gee, you are really a nice, super, kind and smart guy, but now, having said that, I’m going to tell you why you are an idiot.” really odd.|
Sitting here at Starship Enterprisey, you’d bet Oracle’s maintenance revenue stream that I’d jump and take up my cudgels to defend enterpriseydom, But I’m not.
Something James Governor said a while ago about IBM nails it for me- The false distinction between consumer and enterprise.
RedMonk has long called for IBM to abandon the somewhat false distinction between “consumer” and “enterprise”. What’s the main difference? Who pays the bill at the end of the month.
I’ve argued before about the dangers of using the “enterprise” as an excuse for complexity, and in the summer I said.
Labelling things enterprise, business or even professional enables a defence of complexity that shouldn’t be tolerated without a challenge.
One of the things that makes me mad is the “enterprise is complex syndrome”. Complexity, not Oracle, is SAP’s biggest competitor. We enterprisey types need some Bauhaus. We can learn a lot from the often brutal simplicity of consumer applications. A focus on simplicity is imperative.
In this sense, Nick Carr is right.
By perpetuating a false dichotomy between the friendliness of consumer apps and the seriousness of business apps, all that Krigsman is doing is giving enterprise vendors cover for continuing to produce software that’s difficult and unpleasant to use. Give Scoble credit. He’s asking the right question, in his own strange way.
At the same time, anytime a consumer software expert craps on the enterprise gang for not being more like the consumer stuff, I’d politely ask them to do the Rumplestilskin 2.0 Test.
Flickr from YTaP
Apologies to my loyal readers - I have used this before, but for those of you new to this blog:
We provide a room with perfect lighting, beanbags with fairtrade beans, the social media tools of your choice, lattes and other beverages of your choice on tap, eco-friendly pizza and Macbook pros all round, but we only let you out when you have a working polish payroll that offers a compelling user experience. And maintain it. At a profit.
Oh, and It seems we have short memories, or perhaps this is a yuletide thing. Last year Bill Thompson’s Tyranny of the UI post sparked a similar blogosphere spat. I’m now self linking beyond the pale of politeness, but the UI is not the application.
Come to think of it, having a UI at all means a failure to automate. I guess the sexiest UI is no UI at all. This would enable you to leave the computer alone for a while and get on with the real thing.- business time.
At the risk of turning this into a SAP infomercial, I received an interesting email today about a joint development (co-innovation in enterprisespeak) With SAP and Wincor Nixdorf.
The challenge here is not bringing 2.0, to the enterprise, but rather 0.5.
How can you bring dramatic process and time savings to lengthly, costly administrative processes on the factory shopfloor without slowing up production lines? How can you provide systems access in a way that makes it easy and fast for factory workers to enter timesheets, access schedules, book holiday, check payslips and the like when they have oil on their hands. I’m not going to call it sexy, but it is damn cool. check out this video (sorry wmv only – note to SAP marketing, stick it on youtube, please)
the power of AND
Ed Hermann, both a builder and victim of enterprise software writes of the tyranny of OR, he is so spot on. He also places this in an SAP context
It’s an internal struggle between the old school German engineering mentality vs. the new school Silicon Valley start up attitude. Only time will tell if they will find balance and harmony of both by embracing the “Genius of the AND”.
We enterprisey types need a big dose of AND.
Vinnie, from my vantage point, there is significant change under foot. Granted it has a long way to go but if you look at the influx of ethnographers and user-centric design teams in the larger enterprise software firms, the Voice of the Customer aspect of interface design is becoming more prevalent. Again, I grant you that companies that have been delivering software for many years without customer input at the front end of the process face significant cultural and process hurdles to get there. I have my doubts that all will succeed. Whether enterprise software can become more customer centric is dependent on the underlying culture of the company trying to deliver it.
Nick, things are changing in Enterprise land. The user is getting a whole lot more respect.
Oh and, flipping it , watching Facebook over the last month, I reckon they could do with a dose of enterprisey.
I’ll leave you with Jason Wood’s take.
Make users lives easier. Sounds simple, but it’s really not