Reading what VC’s think is a good idea, I recommend it, especially for us corporate sorts. I read Peter Rip’s post on enterprise 2.0 via Charlie Wood this morning, and there are a couple of things that I’d like to pick up on.
I agree with a lot of what he says…for instance:
Enterprise 2.0 is not just web 2.0. As Zoli once commented “Web 2.0, collaboration is great, it has it’s place in the Enterprise, but so do those “ugly complex” transactional systems. Don’t try to run your supply chain on a wiki”
Enterprise 2.0 is a meaningful and significant space.
The Gartner coverage of enterprise 2.0 is not their best work
Some users will play a greater role in “building” their “own” applications.
Web 2.0 companies are unlikely to be the dominant Enterprise 2.0 players
Where I disagree.
1. Dispense with the sociology. Over the last 150 years, lots of clever minds have studied how people organise themselves, and understanding the corporation is a significant component of that research. Naive assumptions about sociology is precisely why many KM projects fail. Over-simplifying organisation development and sociology is just plain dumb. We need more sociology in software not less.
I don’t think LAMP, Rails etc is the defining factor. Collaboration in the workplace is not about a particular technology, the plumbing, as McAfee rightly calls it. Today these may be the primary tools used to build “2.0” applications, but they aren’t the only ones. The need to collaborate will be around long after we expire. It is unlikely that LAMP etc will.
2. I’m really really sick and tired of SAP being called a Dinosaur. Just because we don’t drop everything and jump on every bandwagon going through town we are labelled Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are extinct but SAP is definitely not, the business is growing, anad has a P/E ratio that implies that the market thinks it will continue growing.
I’ll take a bet that SAP will embrace enterprise 2.0, and do a damn good job, and make serious revenue with it. The internal adoption of enterprise 2.0 via wiki projects is rocketing, and this will have a huge impact on the way we think about enterprise applications. Spend some time in SDN, and you will see what I mean.
In every major technology and application wave over the last 30 years, SAP has thrived and grown stronger. It may not be the first, but when it gets something figured out, then things really happen. Look at the switch from mainframe to client-server, Unix, NT, the B2B bubble, Globalisation, CRM, Supply chain, HR, BI and now SOA. I don’t know why “2.0” will be any different, if we continue to apply our best minds to the challenge, work with the best customer base and partners in the world and keep our Schumpeter mantra (Kagermann quotes him a lot). What Plattner said 9 years ago still stands here in starship enterprisey.
”The challenge is to permanently question ourselves, to be awake, to be agile, to learn,” says Plattner. ”When you see you have to do something, you have to react quickly and not fight it.”
The metaphor of dinosaur and meteor is not a bad one. Most of the time though, SAP is the meteor.
3. Spreadsheets. The only people I know who like spreadsheets are accountants. Writing macros is up there with getting telesales calls in the middle of reading children’s bedtime stories in my book.
4. In some industries and jobs, user built applications will thrive, but I don’t see major mission critical core processes moving this way anytime soon. Most people who work in enterprises think of O’Reilly is a pub rather than a publisher.
I think the role of the process owner is vital. I see process owners taking a much greater ownership of the process design, being more application aware, and demanding more from their IT department and their vendors. Lets call this enterprise 1.5…..see the examples from Technidata in environmental product compliance (EPC). I wont call this a mashup, but it is a significant process centric application that leverages multi datasources, open apis…..
Go ahead and write SAP off in the Enterprise 2.0 space. But it is a big rock if it lands on you.