Consumers decide tomorrow’s Enterprise Application winners
Those who remember the dot com boom/bust know there will be surprising long-term winners and losers from the current growth spurt around cloud, SaaS and Web 2.0+. Last time many of the long-term winners were ‘boring IT plumbing’ companies such as SAP, Cisco and Oracle. In the offline world, bankers and estate agents did pretty well too.
There were also a handful, but only a handful, of start up innovators who ‘went enterprise’; Yahoo, Amazon, Google, PayPal and a few others. They all benefited from developing for a single platform for delivery – the Web and a technorati who liked them. These days ‘plumbing companies’ are connecting many more subtly-different ‘platforms’; iPhone, Google, Amazon, Salesforce.com and even Twitter all have their own development communities.
But there is an important change this time. The consumer, or more accurately, we prosumers, are driving ‘platform’ adoption and thus increasing innovation risk for developers for these various non-identical platforms. Bizarrely it may mean that our choice of 24 month contract for that new mobile device, signed at the weekend in the noisy local phone shop, could affect the success of future enterprise computing platforms.
There may be some upside though. Once you put technology into the hands of consumers, whether a Web price comparison for that hard-to-find Wii Fit, or checking a rugby spread bet from your iPhone, you better get it right first time. Customers, especially today’s cash-strapped ones, don’t like kludged software or high latency servers. This means boring old quality of service, system uptime and security are increasingly crucial.
The hundreds of Twitter Add-ons, third party Google and Facebook apps we see today may well be an exciting and distracting flowering of more tech innovation. IT now has a new harsher audience. Let’s not get confused, when it comes to enterprise applications, doing boring things well is where the money will be.