¡Viva la Revolución!: Why Enterprise Software Needs A Refresh

I had the opportunity to talk with my Mom last night about the computerization of her health care facility. It’s amazing to me that she can have an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook Pro at home, which are generally easy to use devices that she’s picked up over the last few months, and still be dealing with a trainwreck at the office – old desktop PCs with CRT monitors, databases built on Lotus Notes, and local storage. In essence, when she goes to work, she steps back to a simpler time, roughly 10-15 years ago, when Windows XP was all the rage, blue screens were a fact of life, and a laptop was roughly 9 lbs and up…

Why the disconnect? Legacy enterprise software, e.g. corporate commitments to infrastructure, frozen in time with an iterative enhancement process that only further solidifies the legacy infrastructure. A few years back, someone at the firm thought they needed PCs in her department, bought specific hardware and software solutions based on what might be available back then, hired a consultant to configure the software, and kept that consultant on the payroll over the last decade, slowly iterating the software…

This same cycle has occurred across large enterprise over the last ten years. Bloated IT operations, focused on supporting and enhancing tools built on legacy software, have become extremely powerful and extremely entrenched. Software tools in categories like ERP and CRM, are now offered as best-in-class solutions on the cloud – essentially allowing a team to convert legacy systems to more efficient cloud solutions. In the immediate term it creates a huge flow of work for experienced IT folk converting legacy to cloud-based systems, but ultimately, this move will likely simplify IT departments and requirements…

A revolution is brewing here, and the winners will be cloud-based, simple/intuitive, delightful, open solutions focused on user adoption and customer value-add. One of the firms who will lead this movement is Box.net, led by Aaron Levie – I recommend reviewing his video from the GigaOM conference last week here. His singular focus on delighting his customer base of corporate users, by offering simple and elegant alternatives to Sharepoint that his customers are actively seeking out on their own, often before IT admins gets involved. Others like Marc Benioff from Salesforce.com and Tony Zingale from Jive have also prescribed a similar approach.

At StockTwits, we’ve begun working with the enterprise to better enable investor-focused communications. In our vertical, many legacy software solutions have been adopted over the years, resulting in a world often frozen in a Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6 world, with tons of internally developed and proprietary infrastructure holding it all together. Our platform, by contrast, was natively built in the cloud, with simplicity and usability at the top of the priority list, resulting in a delightful, easy to use, and valuable user experience that is leading to strong adoption. Our clients find the platform to be a breathe of fresh air, both in its simplicity and the flexibility of our architecture.

While we’re still at the beginning of this revolution in enterprise software, I’m extremely hopeful that we’re on the right path – ¡Viva la Revolución!

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