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During the last few years, something has shifted in the Enterprise Software market that is turing 30 year old thinking on its head. And I’m proud to say, SAP is one of the movers. 1. Historical Enterprise Thinking: Business functions are Enterprise Applications. Example: Human Resources, or Financials 2. Current Environment: Business functions are the Platform, and applications are a composite of business functions. Example: xRPM (Resource and Program Management), an application that composites financial system data, project system data, and human resource data. 3. Widgets and Service Enabled Enterprise Architecture (AKA Enterprise 2.0): The democratization of services in the underlaying business functions will decompose even the current composite application ecosystem giving rise to truly niche applications. Example: Sanctioned Party List look-up for Semi-Conductor manufacturers. If you understand what that is, then my example wasn’t niche enough. The Widget as a case study

  • Widgets are an extreme case of the decomposition of monolithic business functions and applications.
  • Very few widgets can suit everybody
  • Widgets are orders of magnitude cheaper to produce than their nearest cousin
  • Widgets can take advantage of SOA and the re-use of business functions
  • Widgets can be “mashed-up”; on the client- again much cheaper than traditional composite applications.
  • Widgets can be tailored to processes, industry, roles, even to the individual user because of the simplicity and low cost of creation.
  • Widgets are an example of a technology that will support mass customization

Analogy: Democratization of Music industry The Internet broke down the monolithic music distribution system that I think can be analogous to the giant business functions in Enterprise Software. What emerged was a explosion of different music genres that consumers can relate to more deeply. The result is that the “one size fits all” mega music hit machine of the centralized music label is dead, probably forever. The effect is that there is a large ecosystem of music producers which in turn favors the platform distributors (iTunes + iPod) over the labels. Music labels that are successful will have to stop spending exorbitant amounts of money for a generic hit that everyone will “enjoy” and harness niche markets like “Down-Tempo”, a sub-genre of electronic music crossed with lounge jazz and target smaller audiences. The Trend: “Custom Bred” versus Best of Breed software producers The end of Oracle’s big spending spree marked the time of death for “Best of Breed”. Both producers and customers want suites of software that work seemlessly together. Custom Bred applications are applications taylored to smaller and smaller user bases. This allows for use specific customization of UI interaction and client-side mash-ups on top of service enabled Best in Class suites. Easily developed custom tailored software on top of SOA will kill “do the least for the most” mentality– which is a major contributor to our end-user’s dislike of using enterprise software. Niche requirements which once (and still do) caused an explosion of features that are useless to most, will support the rise of great targeted Enterprise 2.0 applications built on top of enterprise platforms (like Netweaver) from low-cost ISVs (3 people in a garage) and Do It Yourself IT departments. All we need now is a popular uprising 🙂

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  1. Ed Herrmann
    Eric,
    Nice post…I agree with the “custom bred” trend for enterprise applications, but I believe the popular uprising will come from the bottom and the top with the middle lagging behind. 
    From the top level, the users of applications will start wanting, or better yet, start demanding better applications “custom bred” for their needs. 
    From the bottom level, developers will love to utilize the platform to create these custom apps by leveraging different, outside technologies.
    The lag comes from the middle where companies are now used to SAP telling them what to do and what to use.  They are scared of these new choices that they are being given.  This is where you hear questions like “how will we know what technologies to use on top of the platform”, “who will support all my new technologies?”, and “won’t this raise my TCO?”. These questions will require companies to refocus their IT organizations on technology by putting value back on being technical at senior levels…not a bad thing at all.

    Again I agree with you, and in this next step toward innovation, users are no longer happy with a one-size-fits-all type solution.  They want stuff customized for them, they want it to be user friendly, and they want it to be fast. 

    This is where you will get the popular uprising.
    It will be interesting to see how long it will take the popular uprising to defeat the enterprise fundamentalists.

    -ewH

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