Evolution or revolution for Enterprise 2.0 vendors?

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.

Fidel Castro

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.

Source: Forrester

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.

The big guns of Navarone

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.


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5 Responses to “Evolution or revolution for Enterprise 2.0 vendors?”

  1. Janet Johnson Says:

    Hi Nick,

    I agree that it’s going to be a fascinating thing to see this stage in the technology development process unfold. The good news I see from the enterprise players (IBM, et. al.) entering the market is that – in spite of their shortcomings and blunders – they quickly legitimize markets from an IT perspective, which is where we’ll see the benefits most quickly.

    At the same time, the “suite” perspective (funny you made the example of the ultimate “frankensuite”) is old-think. And many enterprises are “holding out” for suites as they are looking to IBM, Microsoft and other traditional enterprise players to provide them.

    The end-user is left to their own devices, meanwhile, and is bringing in their own social software solutions (you can get free 5-user + server licenses from Jive, Attensa, et. all) instead of waiting for IT to go out for RFP, test, create a deployment plan and roll out.

    It’s a delicate dance, and the IT team is right smack dab in the middle, trying old moves to new music.

  2. Nick Barker Says:

    Hi Janet,

    Thanks for the comment. It is a dilemma, there can be no doubt. What was the saying, ‘You never got fired for buying IBM’, so now Enterprise 2.0 purchases can be pushed through well know channels and integrated much more easily but at what price? As you say grassroots purchases have been fuelling Enterprise 2.0 growth with Confluence/Clearspace type products into the creativity hearts of many big firms.

    The trouble is firms now have information and data on these under the table systems which is being relied upon. Of course, it is really the people where the information and knowledge is to be found and nurtured and not the IT systems. Much of this situation is a result of the well documented business user dissatisfaction with IT investments, which has been brewing for years. As you say we are seeing the meeting in the middle between business users and management controls. I feel a little sorry for IT as they really are ‘stuck’ in the firing line. One way or another change is inevitable.

    I’ll add you to my reader to keep in touch


  3. radiowalker Says:

    Evolution, in my humble opinion. “New Software Model” is a bold statement from some companies, but if you use traditional sales and hide your pricing, how are you really different from the Big Guys? MSFT has already proven they can flatten large sections of the Earth with Sharepoint, so groovy features will not beat them. In fact, beating them [or using the Kodak analogy which is rather far fetched] is a very very risky proposition.

    Those look like Forrester slides but I can’t see a source? Even so, I buy the Forrester theory that much of this gets commoditized, so there had better be more to your software model than a shiny new 2.0 product.

    I like your analogies, and the question being asked. Revolutions like the PC [or Kodak], however, are really stretching the hoopla… and again, in my humble opinion. 🙂 — jeffrey http://www.radiowalker.com

  4. Nick Barker Says:

    I tend to agree Evolution but time will tell as every past empire has had its day and upon historical reflection it’s often becomes a rich revolutionary story. An excellent point on marketing strategies for the small firm, you guys (Atlassian) have been doing pretty well at that so far.

    Do you think Sam Lawrence is worried or happy with the attention such stock statements make? What is that old saying ‘any press is good press’. What the worst that could happen?

    Oppps, thanks for pointing out the missing source for the graphs and yes, it was Forrester. Plus thanks for the compliments, your blogs looks somewhat like mine but funnier 😉 Loved the Laurel & hardy image and the mag cover stories 🙂

    Catch you either at Boston if there or in San Fran later in the year, but I maybe in touch in the meantime for some stuff for our new website.

  5. sandrar Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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