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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Open Source, Web 2.0, Enterprise Software :The Battle Of Mindshare & Criticality

I recall being in a conversation with a well known IT industry expert almost an year back about Sugar CRM – while he thought that this embodies the new trend in enterprise software(opensource), I totally disagreed with him and as such never thought that it would gain traction within the enterprise world.
Jeff Nolan writes,"valley is so radically removed from mainstream enterprise software".He thinks that owing to its strategic nature, maintenance is the primary function of enterprise IT, not innovation and this is antithetical to Valley people like you and me, and especially investors. He takes the example of SugarCRM and writes that Sugar is a startup that is not profitable and hasn’t been catapulted into the mainstream CRM business arena. Out of the 35,000 customers that SAP has, he is aware of just one SAP customer who has approached us about Sugar integrating with our ERP suite. Fully agree Jeff – Enterprise software typically takes lot more time to build, market,gain mindshare amongst potential buyers, makes slow entry into enterprises and remain there for along time –core enterprise software is not a plug and play for enterprises – it embeds within themselves so much of process related to the enterprise and become more or less like an infrastructure to the enterprises adopting it and as such may not suffer from the churn factor seen in the consumer segment. Also size plays an important factor - even valley's yesteryear heroes - Sun & Novell are not seen to be as innovative as it used to be seen to have been several years back. But having said that, it is imperative for the enterprise software ecosystem to foster innovation lot more, spend more on R&D, offer better pricing models and value to enterprises – am aware of many many “WALKING DEAD” enterprise software companies who could phenomenally better, if only they were as dynamic, innovative and risk taking as several small web 2.0 startups. One of the reason that SOA adoption has not happened at the pace expected is owing to lackadaisical approach shown by the enterprise software industry. The disruptive wave that every industry gets hit in their lifetime seldom affects the enterprise software industry with similar force - that I suppose is because of the stranglehold that the enterprise software players have on their customer base. That in my view is the only connect between the Web 2.0 ecosystem and the enterprise - but not the new upstart living for a few weeks hyped/trying to show off as the next best thing. Enterprise software is a critical element of IT and success of global business is intrinsically tied up to this sector – this should never be overlooked.

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