Friday, March 21, 2008

Enterprise software - hip again?

The previous post on finance innovators caught my attention. Early in my career, I helped document the journey of some of those same early adopters in BI and financial analytics—like Steve Beitler, former Controller at Sears, and his peers at companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield of RI, Sealand (Maersk) and Lockheed Martin. I started reflecting on what helped their initiatives rise above the noise surrounding things like the Internet, AOL and cell phones in the '90s. Some argued BI, DW and financial systems lacked that cool factor back then, yet the enterprise solutions that startups were enabling for companies like Sears were grabbing headlines right alongside cool tools and gadgets.

It felt like déjà vu at a Red Herring magazine event this week. The entrepreneurs that converged on the soiree passionately described breakthroughs like wireless gas meters, on-demand Internet video TV without a PC (http://www.building-b.com/), mobile entertainment (http://www.mspot.com/) and a self-serve ecommerce site I like a lot called http://www.cafepress.com/. The energy and passion in the room brought me right back to my most recent stint at a venture-backed company that created collaborative technology for dynamic email applications.

Three prosciutto rolls later, I started to wonder…with all these hip ideas in new media and ecommerce, has enterprise software lost its cool factor? No sooner did conversations start to unfold with execs who are delivering interesting new enterprise solutions. Examples include a company that specializes in web-based task and project management (http://www.attask.com/), another that focuses on salesforce analytics (http://www.cloud9analytics.com/), and one that derives financial intelligence from data strewn across enterprise systems (http://www.staranalytics.com/, a company with whom I consult).


As the execs lobbed stories back and forth about their customers, it signaled that not only is innovation alive and well in the enterprise space, solutions are delivering real business value. Much like the time when Beitler and others made bold commitments to new platforms from startups, today's solutions are driven by customers who share their vision with vendors to help make their companies smarter and more competitive.

Conversations that evening helped me realize the tremendous impact and responsibility this community of entrepreneurs has during this unique moment in business. I walked away inspired by many promising young companies with solutions that aren’t just making our lives more enjoyable, our connections more meaningful and our contributions more lasting, they’re advancing technologies that help the corporations we work for, buy from and invest in operate more effectively based on timely, accurate information.

Now that’s pretty cool.

1 comment:

Scriptwriter said...

I agree. The responsibility is huge and these people do create applications that make our lives easier. You've mentioned @Task. Recently I've found a post about the creation of another project management software. The founder describes the problems he saw, before he desided to invent a tool. It make an interesting reading.