I already re-tweeted this but am Amplifying because this post by my Enterprise Irregular colleague Sigurd Rinde inspires so many thoughts.
The term ‘Business Software’ traditionally implies both complexity and rigidity – it remains far too rare that it focuses on supporting and enabling change. Yes, in the early Michael Hammer-inspired days of ERP the language was all about ‘re-engineering’ but that change implied a rigidization (is that a word?) and standardization of process. Which on a production line makes a ton of sense, but with people often arguably less so. Even more so in today’s highly mobile, change-filled world.
Bottom line – traditional Enterprise/Business Software has not adapted, so companies are more often working around than with it.
There’s a huge opportunity for companies to profit from the next wave of ‘efficiency to effectiveness’ that Sig describes – and so far the new-wave SaaS companies are doing a far better job than the old-line Enterprise/Business Software vendors of supporting and enabling it. That’s often by default because so many SaaS solutions only do one thing – but that is often exactly what the customer wants.
As with most paradigm shifts – because as overused as that term is, it’s exactly what this is – there is huge opportunity. But a ton of glass is going to get broken in the process of getting there.
But there is another kind of curve, the results of doing things differently; when we moved form horse to car, from hunting to agriculture, when the assembly lines were introduced, when electricity became widely distributed and people changed their ways and let machines do much of the manual labour. And indeed, when the first word processor was introduced. That curve is not a simple curve, it’s more like a collection of leaps and bounds interspersed (and paused) by the usual diminishing gain curves.
To have one of these, one has to allow for changes in what one does, to focus on effectiveness of the whole instead of efficiency of the parts. But alas, software marketers and designers are not of the brave persuasion, they would never dream of trying to change the way people go about their business. The age old “truth” of “find a need and fulfil that need” is followed without a question. Follow the customer’s lead, never risk leading, never make the move from efficiency to effectiveness.
Look closer and you’ll find that a Diminishing Return Curve is identical to a Maturity Curve, so no wonder why most agree that Business/Enterprise Software is mature. In truth it’s not, it’s just waiting for the next bound. If somebody dares.