Marc Benioff asks “Why isn’t all enterprise software like Facebook?”. And Charles Zedlewski of SAP responds a better question should be “Why isn’t all enterprise software like amazon?”
Hey, it is good that enterprise software is looking to more consumery technology for inspiration. About time enterprise software became more intuitive, did not need hefty user manuals and expensive training courses?
But can I suggest they also look at their customers and non-tech industry players for inspiration?
My book profiles the 2009 BMW 7 Series which leverages a whole bunch of ways to interface with its users – the driver and the passengers. It supports features like:
- Lane Departure Warning, which vibrates the steering wheel if you change lanes without using the turn signals
- Navigation with all the usual features, plus a 3-D map view that enhances guidance through mountainous or hilly country.
- Hands free calling with speech recognition via the Bluetooth microphone
- Active Blind Spot Detection, which senses vehicles up to 200 ft behind and flashes on the screen and vibrates the steering wheel if you put the turn signal on
- Rear Passenger entertainment system which allows Internet access
You have to compliment BMW and others in the auto industry for working around the mouse and the QWERTY keyboard. Most of the software industry does not take advantage of other types of available and emerging interfaces – surface, wearable computers, scanners, brain-machine and so on.
Move on to analytics.
2008 was a wake-up call for most enterprises. The realization sunk in that after tens of billions invested in analytical tools, their business forecasts were not just off – they were off spectacularly.
Against that backdrop, the National Hurricane Center is impressive. The Center goes out and gathers primary data using dropsondes, buoys, Hurricane Hunter flights in hostile circumstances uses massive processing power to crunch that data, considers and cautiously blends multiple forecasting models and probabilities.
The track forecast error in the eighties, 48 hours out was 225 nautical miles. Today that error is a little less than 100. Over the annual hurricane season, that adds to hundreds of miles of coastline not evacuated. Each mile of coastline not evacuated saves millions in emergency services, panic shopping and other community disruption. Talk about ROI!
That’s what enterprise software should be aiming for. Instead the industry talks about “bringing BI to the masses”.
So, yes match Facebook and amazon. But keep going. Plenty of innovation to catch up to in many areas.