13 January 2006

The Death of Enterprise Software

As reported by James Robertson in his post titled The death of enterprise software, Joe Lamantia has written an interesting piece on "turning away from monolithic and expensive systems with terrible user experiences" (the original post can be found here).

As users increasingly turn away from enterprise systems, they are likely to turn to new trends and technologies that have a proven track record, in particular, solutions that espouses what Dion Hinchcliffe calls "The Timeless Way of Building Software":
There is one timeless way of building software. It is decades old and is the same today as it's always been. And because it is timeless, it will always remain this way.

The great software of our time has always been created by people who were close to this way. It isn't possible to create great software - software that is satisfying, and useful, and makes itself a natural extension of life - except by following this way. And as you will see, this way will lead anyone who looks for it to elegant, vibrant software which is itself timeless in its form.

It is the process by which the function of a piece of software grows directly from the inner nature of people and naturally out of the raw bits, the otherwise meaningless digital medium, of which it is made.

It is a process which allows the life inside a person, or a group of people, or a community to flourish, openly, in freedom, so vividly that it gives rise, of its own accord, to the natural order which is needed to be contained within it.
If large, neutral and "good for all" enteprise solutions do not obey the above great software characteristics and, at the same time, carefully selected web 2.0 technologies do; the workplace is poised to embrace web 2.0 technologies sooner or later - provided such technologies are carefully selected and orchestrated for deployment in corporate settings. In particular, for large corporations and governments, I agree with Joe Lamantia's prediction:
For enterprise software, I think organizations will turn away from monolithic and expensive systems with terrible user experiences -- and correspondingly low levels of satisfaction, quality, and efficacy -- as the best means of meeting business needs, and shift to a mixed palette of semantically integrated capabilities or services delivered via the Internet. These capabilities will originate from diverse vendors or providers, and expose customized sets of functionality and information specific to the individual enterprise. Staff will access and encounter these capabilities via a multiplicity of channels and user experiences; dashboard or portal style aggregators, RIA rich internet applications, mobile devices, interfaces for RSS and other micro-content formats.
End-user experience is not the only driver for this change. The commoditization of IT, a concept coined by Nicholas Carr in "Does IT Matter?", coinciding with organizational self-awareness of massive IM/IT sustained investments as a portion of overall budgets; are pushing for considerable IM/IT rationalization. In one Department for example, the federal government is hoping to save approximately $150M on a yearly basis on the basis of IM/IT rationalization.

Expect an increasing number of conferences exploring how web 2.0 technologies could well serve the workplace, such as this one, and expect a better collaboration between IT staff and business units, as described in this White Paper by Dennis D. McDonald and Jeremiah Owyang (reported here by James Robertson). Finally, Web 2.0 solutions will increasingly target corporate settings, such as Alfresco - an open source, open-standards content repository.

Exciting times ahead in 2006!