Monday, June 23, 2008

Enterprise Two-Dot-Oh-Dear....

ReadWriteWeb have a very nice piece on why Enterprise 2.0 has to be different. They list 8 Attributes of E20: I have just posted my inflections on each of these points after each:

(1) Monthly Subscription fees, not upfront perpetual license fees. This means the vendor has to be good to keep earning the $$$. The vendor also gets a predictable revenue line, so they can invest in R&D with confidence.

(A) This is a bit off the mark in my opinion. The value of monthly charging, historically, is that the smaller amount every month, doesn't hurt as much. Smaller numbers also don't draw attention to themselves during review processes. Yet, larger corporate clients look for value, and don't mind paying upfront fees/ forward paying usage, if they get better value. Consider this to be a reflection of your Enterprise customers confidence in the service.

(2) Adoption by users, not forced by corporate policies. Users "vote with their mouse", so it has to be good to get traction and bloat gets quickly punished.

(A) I am afraid this is just a clear result of having a clear value focus. Is it useful to the user or not? Remember, there are still corporate issues that have to be addressed no matter how "cool and funky" your user thinks Skype-Conference calls are, if your company operates in a regulated environment, then they may not be a viable option. Dion Hinchcliffe referred to a recent webinar he was on and the main issues raised by CIO's are still, Governance, and Security. Ignore corporate policy at your peril.

(3) Usable without a manual within 30 minutes, still valuable for a sophisticated power use 2 years later. That is the mark of greatness. It is a real art. The great ones make it look simple - it is not simple!

(A) Completely agree with this. And would like to add that the more people use your system or service every day, the more usability issues come to the fore. When trialling a system, you may be quite happy to go through 3-clicks to make a contact request. Using it every day, you want one click. So an emerging E20 rule might be "Usability is more important on day 30, than it is on minute 30".

(4) Hosted SaaS, so that vendors can invest R&D in new features and not in the intricacies of different platforms forced on them by an internal IT department.

(A) Completely agree with this. The caveat of course being that you may have to have broad customisation capabilities versus "the one interface for all". Users want to move things about to suit their work habits, let them. But remember, some of the most useful applications retain their background structure, so that your adaptations don't end up just creating a mess. This also effects how you roll out features (i.e. if they are important to some customers but not others). As far as I know, some of the more successful SaaS apps are standard to all users.

(5) Enabling secure, fine-grained communication across the firewall. This is the big issue for enterprises. Not many vendors do this right yet. Today we see too much binary "you are either inside or outside". The winners will enable security in a much more fine-grained way.

(A) This one is becoming more and more important. You can see that the "100% browser based solution" approach is attractive from a number of perspectives, but the limitations are clear when you have large volumes of data involved. It is also, I believe a reason why the Adobe Air development is so attractive. Perhaps companies will all have their own "iTunes for Applications" strategies.

(6) Loosely coupled, not attempting lock-in, enticing but not forcing use of related modules/products. This is a real biggie. Bringing any new system into a company involves a horrendous amount of co-ordination and interfacing. The one's that say "you can have just this little bit and it takes in data this way and spits out data this way" will win.

(A) Yip. Reduce friction to adoption at all points. One thing VoiceSage has done to address this is to enable you to use as much or as little data integration as you feel comfortable with. This reduces friction in the adoption process. Yet clearly, there are many benefits that can only be driven out with higher levels of data integration from an input point of view, but also from a report generation point of view.

(7) Freemium model, so some early experimentation can be done free of cost. This also reduces the vendor's sales cost, so they can invest more in R&D and/or lower the price enough to drive adoption.

(A) Agree, BUT. People/ Companies that want a free service are not always the people that will move to pay for a premium service. I think its somewhere like 2% move on? What FREE might give you (where there is near zero marginal cost) is more information on what people want from your service, and more usage behavior. The real thing that should be made as free as possible as an experiment that enables experience of benefit/value. Just using the service is nothing, experiencing measurable benefit, that you can put a money value on, is everything. Enabling customer experimentation is rarely truly free to deliver.

(8) Fun, relaxed, not taking itself too seriously. Taking off the suit helps adoption.

(A) Well you know, some customers like to know that you take their business and concerns seriously. If your customer/ client needs to see a suit to feel that, then you have to call it. At VoiceSage we like to think that we help take away the veil of complexity, we like to reveal the simplicity. How you interact with the client needs to reflect that "organisational value", not a notion of "cool", or general cultural trends towards informality.

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