"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster." -The Six Million Dollar Man.
Bionic Man did not just get a nose job. He was rewired with nuclear powered limbs and implants and much more.
This weekend, several of the Enterprise Irregulars had a vigorous discussion going around Enterprise 2.0 - the impact Web 2.0, social networking, SaaS etc. are having on the enterprise. And I kept coming back to the point that any definition of Enterprise 2.0 (or whatever we or Forrester ends up calling it) has to be fundamentally rewired. It cannot just reflect the exciting new user centric innovations but also what is happening in the middle and the back in terms of service delivery, third party maintenance, IP licensing and a whole series of other innovations we have been seeing over the last few years.
I proposed the following as additional considerations as our group (and the software industry in general) seeks to define Enterprise 2.0. While by no means comprehensive, it is my attempt to get a broader discussion going.
a) supports choice of customer deployment of functionality as a service, and in installed mode
b) is architected and priced/sold as a series of services
c) sells maintenance broken in to support and upgrade charges and allows an ecosystem of partners, not just the publisher, to alternatively provide support.
d) largely automates bug fixes/upgrades which require little customer (or service partner) intervention
e) provides process management, configuration, conversion, integration, testing, systems management, end user training tools to minimize implementation and support labor
f) provides customers with a wide range of service partners which are audited, graded and certified each year based on product training completion, customer feedback,
g) commits to transparency to customers around product quality, customer service ticket resolution, outages (where provided in SaaS mode) etc.
h) provides a mechanism for certification of integration of third party software products, and re-certification as releases change
i) actively encourages a on-line developer/integrator community and pushes for an "open source" licensing of community intellectual property
j) Commits to sharing with each customer a "sticker" showing standard list of various components/services and various discounts and taxes
k) shares with customer base on a regular basis summary results of various implementation and support metrics from its service partner ecosystem
Most industries are seeing innovation in many facets from business models to channels. So is enterprise software. And even within technology specific innovation, Web 2.0 is only one facet. Enterprise software is adopting telemetry, predictive analytics and so much more.
As we innovate enterprise software, we will fix way more than the nose.
Clarification: Most of the practices I suggest above are already in use by one or more enterprise software vendor. On c) SAP offers third party maintenance through its TomorrowNow unit to Oracle apps customers. On g) salesforce.com provides metrics on its on-line performance. And customers like these innovations - so my suggestion we generalize them across the industry.