Tag Archives: Enterprise

The Legacy of Enterprise 2.0–Concluding thoughts from the Conference

The absolute highlight of last week’s Enterprise 2.0 conference was meeting in person and online many very bright people including Nenshad Bardoliwalla, Susan Scrupski, Michael Krigsman and many others. There’s certainly a strong discourse here about advancing the agenda for Enterprise computing.

As with many advanced topics in Enterprise computing, it’s very easy to take a potshot: as we all know:

crocky

* SOA is Dead (Anne Thomas Manes)
* Enterprise 2.0 what a Crock (Dennis Howlett) and
* Cloud is Water Vapor (Larry Ellison)

One link that got me to thinking was posted by Nenshad–Tomio Geron from the Wall Street Journal blogged about the vast number of venture backed startups that have failed this year.

Pundits aside, I think there is a very easy “Crock Test” that can definitively answer Dennis Howlett’s question. The question wont be answered by a failed panel discussion. No matter how pithy, it wont be answered by a blog post. The closest thing to the “Crock Test” came from Susan Scrupski’s “last and only response to crock-gate”, a list of organizations involved in the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council. The problem with the list is that the names are just names–you kind of want to be able to click on them to see the case studies, if any.

Which brings me to the “Crock Test”. Unfortunately, the test will require some degree of patience. We will definitively know if Enterprise 2.0 is a crock if in 20, 30 or 40 years we can look back on all of the Enterprise 2.0 legacy software that has been created.

As I mentioned in 5 definitions towards the maturing of Enterprise 2.0, legacy is another word for the software projects that worked. So here’s hoping we will be looking back at Susan’s list of companies and seeing a list of case studies about the depth and scope of transformation and a list of the huge successful companies built on top of Enterprise 2.0–not a list of failed ones.

To be fair, the failed companies on the list come from a large number of sectors–it’s just a sobering list, not a condemnation of #e20

My 2 cents,
Miko

Posted in Cloud | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Enterprise 2.0 Crock

I think it’s great to have a panel called “Is Enterprise 2.0 a Crock?” at the Enterprise 2.0 conference. Much like SOA conference panels addressing “Is SOA Dead?”

Crock

Dennis Howlett posed this question in his blog, entitled Enterprise 2.0: What a Crock. The summary paragraph is quoted here:

Like it or not, large enterprises – the big name brands – have to work in structures and hierarchies that most E2.0 mavens ridicule but can’t come up with alternatives that make any sort of corporate sense. Therein lies the Big Lie. Enterprise 2.0 pre-supposes that you can upend hierarchies for the benefit of all. Yet none of that thinking has a credible use case you can generalize back to business types – except: knowledge based businesses such as legal, accounting, architects etc. Even then – where are the use cases? I’d like to know. In the meantime, don’t be surprised by the ‘fail’ lists that Mike Krigsman will undoubtedly trot out – that’s easy. In the meantime, can someone explain to me the problem Enterprise 2.0 is trying to solve?

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there are legitimate technologies that can help organizations collaborate and gain significant advantages. But the Enterprise 2.0 crowd for the most part do not show the kind of sophistication about the Enterprise that is needed. OF course there are many many counterexamples of people who are very sophistcated, @ITSinsider @Nenshad @PhilWW @Mastermark and others.

But when I hear panelists say things like:

* The way that business is organized is fundamentally changing, period
* we are breaking down silos
* I don’t know who goes into offices anymore
* Email “reply to all” costs $250,000

I really wonder if there’s enough healthy debate on this topic. It would be nice to see @dahowlett on the panel.

The concept that Silos are something that can be “broken down” shows the ignorance of the people saying it. I wont point a finger at the panelist who used the phrase, and I hear people saying this throughout the conference. But this is a completely wrong concept, and dangerous.

Silos, both organizational and technological are an emergent property of Enterprise. As I defined earlier in the week, the Enterprise can be defined as an organization whose mission requires longevity, size and growth. Longevity creates technology silos, growth creates organizational silos.

Christopher Allen cites Robin Dunbar very well in this post about the famous “Dunbar Number.” We are hitting fundamental limits to human social scalability in the Enterprise.

Until Enterprise 2.0 folks gain a deeper understanding of the day to day reality of the Enterprise, this will continue to have a superficial impact on the Enterprise. If we look back at Enterprise 2.0 in 20 years and can see lots of Enterprise 2.0 “legacy applications”, we can consider this effort to have been a success.

Posted in Cloud | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Top 5 Definitions of Enterprise: focusing on the Enterprise in “Enterprise 2.0″

It’s a cool sunny day in San Francisco and there’s some bustle at the Moscone center.

Enterprise 2.0 conference.

You can tell it’s an Enterprise conference because unlike the Web 2.0 Conference there’s no free pass even to the show floor. Also the full pass is about $2500 bucks. One way to define Enterprise is:

en⋅ter⋅prise
  /ˈɛntərˌpraɪz/ [en-ter-prahyz]
–noun

5. Stuff I wouldn’t do unless you paid me.
crime scene clean up
This definition puts Enterprise squarely in the camp of crime scene janitorial services. It adds a concept of “professional” to the discussion and establishes the Enterprise as the realm of uncomfortable clothing. I recall reconnecting with Arthur Van Hoff after our adventures in Java and having him laugh at me because I was wearing (in his words) an “IQ Restrictor”, his parlance for a necktie. This definition also puts a dynamic tension between the “Suits” at the Enterprise 2.0 conference and the boho hipsters wearing the Emo Hair.

4. Software that sucks.
PHAILBOAT
This was the definition I evoked in my post “The Human Enterprise.” To be honest, I introduced the idea of “The Human Enterprise as a direct counterproposal to “Enterprise 2.0″. I think the piece that was missing from The Human Enterprise is the extent to which fragmentation plays a role in the essential nature of the Enterprise, which is a theme I’ve been addressing more lately in terms of the effect of sheer size on the Enterprise.

3. A venture requiring industriousness or courage.
Kirk
This definition deserves some attention because it in some ways captures exactly what’s missing from the current debate around the Enterprise. The extent to which courage has been slowly sapped by the ravages of the Great Recession and “job security” is to some extent disheartening. In particular, efforts to rejuvenate the complex IT System Architecture and to mitigate the effects of Entropy and the “Heat Death of IT” have been met with cries of “SOA is Dead“. So here’s a call for the restoration of courage in IT, to boldly go. Set phasers on “frappe”.

2. Dead stuff that used to matter
he's dead jim
Rumors of the death of Enterprise Software have been greatly exaggerated (nice post by David Hornik). The thing people find hard to understand about the longevity of most Enterprise IT is that “dead” software actually lives a long time. In fact dead software (nice post by James Governor) runs 90% of the economy. Another word for “legacy” is IT projects that worked. The word for IT projects that didnt work is “consolidation”. This should be especially resonant for folks at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, since 99% of the projects spawned by “Enterprise 2.0″ will fall into the latter category. We will have won when there’s “Legacy Enterprise 2.0″ apps out there.

1. An organization whose mission requires significant size, growth and longevity
I present this as the number one definition in an attempt to extract the most salient feature of the Enterprise to casual observers. The definitionis designed to be inclusive of Government organizations. I don’t want to open a can of worms (big government vs small government) but arguably some “missions” such as the regulation of interstate commerce and providing for the common defense would require a degree of size, scale and longevity. But what’s more interesting about this definition are the implications.

At this scale, the organization struggles with whether it’s “too big to fail” or “too big to succeed”.

The implications of size include fragmentation of organization into tribes.

The implications of growth include fragmentation of markets into niches.

The implications of longevity include fragmentation of technology into silos.

cracked

These forms of fragmentation is the key challenge of Enterprise, and the points that some E2.0 companies seem to miss. Trying to repackage consumer apps and peddle them to Enterprises misses the unique pain of Enterprise. I’ve spoken and written extensively about the effect of technological and organizational silos, for example in my book SOA Adoption for Dummies. But lately I’ve been thinking about the effects of market fragmentation.

There comes a tipping point in any large commercial sector Enterprise where the market for the flagship product or service becomes saturated. At this juncture, the revenue growth challenge becomes less about attracting and delighting new customers but rather about sucking as much money out of existing customers as possible. The example I will provide for you is the Apple iPod. At the risk of offending fanboys, the iPod market is saturated. I must own a half dozen iPods. Now I go running with my iPod nano 3g. When my 3g failed, I went to the Apple store to buy a new iPod. The way Apple segmented their products, they had created a low end model at $59 dollars (the clip) which had no screen, a “medium” range but portable option (the nano) at $150 and then the “platform” model, the iPod Touch at $199.

The nano costs only 50 bucks less than the Touch, but for users who want to run with an iPod, the Touch is too big. Since they overloaded the nano with features I dont want (accelerometer, video camera, FM radio) they were able to jack up the price.

ipod sucks

This kind of behavior exists in many mature markets, including cell phone plans. The cell phone companies have “package designers” who specifically design packages including SMS and email that rack up a maximum number of overcharges and fees. They design packages that exploit the gap between what users think they will use and what they actually use based on data mining in their demographics. This type of behavior makes the Enterprise essentially the “enemy” of the consumer. Of course we want successful companies to have profits so they can fuel the next generation of investment. I certainly want Apple to succeed and I bought their product even though I found it mildly distateful (it was still the best player for my purpose).

I wrote this post in the hopes that it would stimulate discussion about how people define the “Enterprise” in “Enterprise 2.0″.

My 2 cents,
Miko

Posted in Cloud, Enterprise, Nerds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Enterprise Cloud: Why Size Matters

One of the biggest issues in speaking of technology trends is the natural impulse to apply a “one size fits all” approach.

People talk about technology the way they talk about the weather–it’s something that affects everyone the same way. Raining? That’s too bad about the ball game. Nice for your flower garden though.

Unfortunately, when it comes to technology, it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. At the risk of losing 90% of my readers in one go, I’m going to dust off one of the great evil words in the technology industry–Enterprise. As I’ve said before, the word “Enterprise” in the phrase “Enterprise Software” has come to mean software that sucks. In fact, if you Google “Enterprise Software” (with the quotes) the number two link is “Why Enterprise Software Sucks“.

So why dust off this word? I suppose I enjoy collecting antiques.

It’s after all a perfectly good word, and can be repurposed as a pot holder or maybe a tea cozy. What I’d like to have is a word that signifies the following:

An organization that has grown in size to the point where the old tricks don’t work anymore.

Funny Pictures

* Its organization has shattered into factions
* It’s technology has separated into silos
* Its market has fragmented into niches

The big challenge is how does one maintain the advantages of size and scale but still retain agility?

I think it’s possible:
Bull headstand

So how does fragmentation affect the use of cloud?

Well in terms of complex demand, cloud principles are very exciting.

swiss army

If your market is fragmented, you will be happy to offer a platform of reusable services that can be customized by channel partners or even by end users into thousands of possible use cases. Think iPhone App Store. So for complex demand, the cloud is a good thing.

The challenge for the Enterprise and cloud is the concept of “Complex Supply”. Since both the technology in the Enterprise is already siloed, adding cloud just adds another silo. Legacy Mainframe apps, Web Application Servers, Enterprise Applications, you name it, Cloud just adds yet another technology silo to maintain, integrate, secure and govern. Since large organizations are fragmented into smaller organizations, this problem is compounded when one organization creates a dependency on cloud services without a systematic enabling architecture.

Size matters. People try to apply architectural patterns and software solutions as if they were one-size-fits all.

ass is too small

Posted in Cloud, Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off