As part of a client project I ran across a set speeches that former Oracle COO Ray Lane has been making on the “inter” Personal Enterprise (you can find a slide deck used at a Sandhill conference here).
In his recorded keynote presentation, which can be found at IT conversations, Lane reminds us that eighty percent of the enterprise software industry profits currently go to just three companies, while seven thousand companies fight over the remainder. In order to succeed in this environment, he recommends that enterprise software vendors focus on ease of adoption, instantaneous value and a minimum IT footprint. He also says that “…vendors need to make it easy for users to get started and provide real value to the customer before she is required to pay. The user experience should be personalized and contextualized and the product should spread through the enterprise organically, via user recommendation, rather than by management edict.”
That is in fact how we built eRoom Technology to become a profitable $40M company in the early 2000’s. We provided easy ways for individuals and small teams to get started after which the solution would spread organically throughout the enterprise through user recommendations. By the time the CIO at KPMG decided to standardize on eRoom as their collaboration platform, there were already over 2,000 happy eRoom users in the company. We then tried to scale the ease of adoption process by releasing an ASP version of the product. While I still believe that was a good idea, that strategy was not widely successful as the ASP offering never fully got embraced by our “enterprise” sales force. The shift from big upfront payments and fat commission checks to a more predictable pay-as-you go scheme was just too much of a culture shock.
In a lot of ways, that is also what is happening with Enterprise 2.0 tools – the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies within the enterprise. But as Harvard Business Professor Andrew McAfee, who coined the Enterprise 2.0 term, predicts, most Enterprise 2.0 tools will remain confined to geek-heavy groups, companies or industries, or at best they may find spotty mainstream penetration.