Enterprise Sexiness

February 5, 2009
75 Views

Bringing Sexyback (in the enterprise)

Stumbled across Jevon via mutual Twitter acquaintances. This is an interesting take on the whole “is enterprise software sexy? can it be? should it be?” meme. Reading his piece, my reaction was (as with many of the other commentators who have weighed in on the topic) something like, “Well, yes and no.” I agree that the distinction Jevon draws exists. He also suggests that “old school” enterprise systems / approaches are irreconcilable with the place that social software systems are journeying towards. I also agree with this. He says:

You see, many average joes like Scoble are drawing a long-term assumption, and that is that enterprise software is going to converge with where consumer software is right now and where it is going.

The problem is that if you understand current enterprise systems, you know that can’t really happen. You can only hope that things will get a little prettier and perhaps that there will be updates to the software a little more often. IBM, Oracle SAP and others are already starting to deliver updates and UI enhancements more often than they once did (at least it seems that way).

What Scoble is imagini

Bringing Sexyback (in the enterprise)

Stumbled across Jevon via mutual Twitter acquaintances. This is an interesting take on the whole “is enterprise software sexy? can it be? should it be?” meme. Reading his piece, my reaction was (as with many of the other commentators who have weighed in on the topic) something like, “Well, yes and no.” I agree that the distinction Jevon draws exists. He also suggests that “old school” enterprise systems / approaches are irreconcilable with the place that social software systems are journeying towards. I also agree with this. He says:

You see, many average joes like Scoble are drawing a long-term assumption, and that is that enterprise software is going to converge with where consumer software is right now and where it is going.

The problem is that if you understand current enterprise systems, you know that can’t really happen. You can only hope that things will get a little prettier and perhaps that there will be updates to the software a little more often. IBM, Oracle SAP and others are already starting to deliver updates and UI enhancements more often than they once did (at least it seems that way).

What Scoble is imagining, and what people like Stowe and I dream about on long walks is fundamentally at odds with a large rule-based enterprise platform.

Yes, I think that’s basically true. Where I disagree with Jevon is his apparent assumption that a) we can’t do anything about that problem, and b) that these existing systems have no value at all — like some others in this discussion, he seems to be suggesting that it’s an all or nothing issue, a Rocket Arena deathmatch which can only leave one combatant standing. Jevon says:

Those of us who have done large-scale social software implementations have seen that the results are much more nefarious: Once users begin to use social software in their daily work, it begins to capture massive amounts of their attention, and it also influences their thinking. This isn’t immediate, but it happens eventually and is significant.

All of a sudden users will begin to question arbitrary workflows in the SAP install, and they will be frustrated with how news gets pushed out on Sharepoint. The list goes on. The biggest problem isn’t that they are merely frustrated however, it is that they now have the tools to both express and remedy that frustration.

With regard to the first point, I think what must happen is that the existing enterprise systems will have to change to accommodate these new modes of discourse. As for the second point, it seems blindingly obvious to me that the existing systems will continue to have a valuable role to play for what Sig and James have taken to calling the “easily repeatable processes”. Those exist, Jevon, and they generate value, and many of them are best served by letting them be. What I find interesting about what’s on the horizon is the possibility of adding value to all of the “barely repeatable processes”. But I suspect you’re mistaken if you think that social software is going to provide some significantly better way to do the ERP’s. No tool is good for all things — hammers are only good at nails, and screwdrivers are best for screws. There is no silver bullet, and social software isn’t one either.