The ever militant Fidel Castro once said ‘A revolution is a struggle between the past and the future’. The evolutionary or revolutionary stakes are getting higher in the Enterprise 2.0 space with the giants IBM, Microsoft and Oracle demonstrating their financial muscle at the Enterprise 2.0 Boston conference. These enterprise vendors are now the top sponsors at this event for the first time as highlighted by Susan Scrupski.
But are the Enterprise vendors serious and really committed to Enterprise 2.0 and if they are where will this leave the current Enterprise 2.0 vendors such as Socialtext and Jive? Alternatively, is the Enterprise market in the mists of revolution where the giants will be overthrown by a new software model as suggest by Sam Lawrence? Of course the answer is complex and difficult to see.
A brief historical reflection reminds us of the colossal mistakes and monumental triumphs these giants of the software industry have made in the past. Remember when IBM gave away the early PC O/S to Bill’s firm which still enjoys market sector dominance or how frustrated Microsoft currently are at missing out on the enormous Ad funded growth achieved by search engine firms. However these Enterprise vendors became big because they are clever survivors having evolved. When IBM shifted its attention to services it became the largest IT service in the world, after missing the browser innovation Bill famously turned Microsoft’s resources to counter act Netscape’s market traction and remember how Larry at Oracle out manoeuvred everyone with SQL.
Unlike Cuban politics that resulted in the country remaining in a void between past and future the software industry moves very quickly, every 18months they say, and with the Enterprise 2.0 stakes rising we should not have to wait too long to see an evolution of the past enterprise vendors or a bright newcomer future. The software big guns have the advantage of deep pockets, mountains of resources, and large and often loyal customer installed bases.
With the major software vendors initiatives and investments into Enterprise 2.0 are we witnessing them preparing to defend their territory with their powerful guns? The large vendors certainly lack the entrepreneurial flexibility of the younger dynamic small firms which have been directly meeting emerging end user problems and needs with fresh a Web2.0 approach.
Throwing money at an emerging marketplace will not necessary bring success to the big enterprise vendors because of the changing nature of IT and the well documented difficulty and commitment needed to change the direction of such large organisational ships. However, if the current Enterprise 2.0 players are to continue to enjoy success and move more into the mainstream Enterprise market I suspect they are going to have to make a change in tact because of the increasing interest of the software giants with their aforementioned strengths. Only time will tell whether this is a revolution or evolution.