Why enterprise software isn’t sexy

Bill Gates seems to bemoan the fact that enterprise software isn’t covered by blogs and journalists. Instead, he points out, that we like talking about consumer software.

It’s a good point, especially since business software like that from Oracle, SAP, Microsoft etc makes a TON of money.

So, why is it so?

Well, how many people in the world actually buy business software? For instance, back when I worked at NEC, a company that had more than 100,000 employees back then (more employees than work at Microsoft, actually) we used SAP. But I didn’t have any say in that matter. Some CIO somewhere else made that decision and forced us all to use SAP. That doesn’t exactly make us warm and fuzzy about the computer sitting in front of us on the desk.

But that doesn’t really explain it totally.

Instead, let’s look at the business of journalism or even of blogging. We’re paid to deliver page views. Advertisers call it “CPM” (cost per thousand viewers). Now, what’s going to get more of you interested? Consumer software that you actually have a role in adopting or purchasing or enterprise software where some CIO somewhere else in your organization decides on? I know that when I talk about enterprise software the numbers of viewers just don’t show up. So, tech bloggers quickly learn that if they talk about enterprise software they aren’t going to get many advertising impressions.

There are a variety of CIO blogs, though, I wonder which one is the best one?

Don’t feel too sad for Gates, though. He’s laughing all the way to the bank. Turns out those CIOs buy a lot of software.

Any of you have any ideas on how to make business software sexy?

I wonder what the Enterprise Irregulars think about this? (They are a group of bloggers who cover business software).

180 thoughts on “Why enterprise software isn’t sexy

  1. Business software and sexy don’t go hand in hand. Hell, I haven’t exactly seen many sexy female software engineers out there, so it’s kind of tough to make it translate.

  2. Business software and sexy don’t go hand in hand. Hell, I haven’t exactly seen many sexy female software engineers out there, so it’s kind of tough to make it translate.

  3. Robert, great article. You must be the master of pot-stirring. I would submit there is a middle ground between sexy and stable…

    Enterprise software does need a PR make-over. CXO’s often don’t ask their customers how they would be impacted, and I think this is a major mistake. There must be a way to give customers what they need and what they want.

    I have expanded on my comments in my blog:

    http://www.changeforge.com/?p=26

    Keep up the great work! I always enjoy reading and listening.

  4. Robert, great article. You must be the master of pot-stirring. I would submit there is a middle ground between sexy and stable…

    Enterprise software does need a PR make-over. CXO’s often don’t ask their customers how they would be impacted, and I think this is a major mistake. There must be a way to give customers what they need and what they want.

    I have expanded on my comments in my blog:

    http://www.changeforge.com/?p=26

    Keep up the great work! I always enjoy reading and listening.

  5. Pingback: KludgeHack
  6. Robert, I don’t want sexy enterprise software, I want functional enterprise software. A great UI would be helpful, but there’s a lot more to enterprise software than a pretty face.

    Also, why is BillG talking about enterprise software. At Microsoft, enterprise software is selling 500 seats of Office. Now Oracle and SAP are premier enterprise software companies. Microsoft could learn a thing or two from Oracle and SAP.

    When I moved from Microsoft to Oracle, it was like moving to another planet. Oracle is what enterprise software is all about. Microsoft, well, Microsoft should stick to selling copies of Office.

    And note that where Microsoft gets the most traction with their apps such as Microsoft CRM and the Dynamics line in general is with SMEs, not the G2000.

    Take a look at who runs Oracle or SAP apps. Compare this list to who runs Microsoft apps. How many G2000 companies are primarily running Microsoft Dynamics?

    I rest my case.

  7. Robert, I don’t want sexy enterprise software, I want functional enterprise software. A great UI would be helpful, but there’s a lot more to enterprise software than a pretty face.

    Also, why is BillG talking about enterprise software. At Microsoft, enterprise software is selling 500 seats of Office. Now Oracle and SAP are premier enterprise software companies. Microsoft could learn a thing or two from Oracle and SAP.

    When I moved from Microsoft to Oracle, it was like moving to another planet. Oracle is what enterprise software is all about. Microsoft, well, Microsoft should stick to selling copies of Office.

    And note that where Microsoft gets the most traction with their apps such as Microsoft CRM and the Dynamics line in general is with SMEs, not the G2000.

    Take a look at who runs Oracle or SAP apps. Compare this list to who runs Microsoft apps. How many G2000 companies are primarily running Microsoft Dynamics?

    I rest my case.

  8. Enterprise Software and sexy – in the same sentence? Are you OK Scolbe? Its like Sushi And Ketchup..

    Names – as they say – tell a lot – if not all. Lets see:

    Planning Time Horizon, MM Module, GL Code Combinations, Chart of Accounts, General Ledger.. and the list goes on..

    Now, lets compare that to the non-enterprise words:

    Music, FREE, Video, Flickr, Bebo,Watch, Download Free.. Creative Commons, Cheap, Friends of Friends.. and .. well..

    I am not saying ERP is useless – bloated -yes.. but anything but sexy

    Cheers
    ajay

  9. Enterprise Software and sexy – in the same sentence? Are you OK Scolbe? Its like Sushi And Ketchup..

    Names – as they say – tell a lot – if not all. Lets see:

    Planning Time Horizon, MM Module, GL Code Combinations, Chart of Accounts, General Ledger.. and the list goes on..

    Now, lets compare that to the non-enterprise words:

    Music, FREE, Video, Flickr, Bebo,Watch, Download Free.. Creative Commons, Cheap, Friends of Friends.. and .. well..

    I am not saying ERP is useless – bloated -yes.. but anything but sexy

    Cheers
    ajay

  10. After working with ERP systems for twenty years, there’s one thing that I’ve come to realize. ERP customers (decision-makers) believe that they are unique, and their uniqueness demands that their ERP be highly configurable.

    Most of the sexy software serves its purpose very well, but I think most of the sexy software requires that everyone adapt to “how it works”.

    While I’m not saying that ERP can’t or shouldn’t be sexy – I think ERP may remain matronly until the demand for sexiness meets or exceeds the demand for configurability.

  11. After working with ERP systems for twenty years, there’s one thing that I’ve come to realize. ERP customers (decision-makers) believe that they are unique, and their uniqueness demands that their ERP be highly configurable.

    Most of the sexy software serves its purpose very well, but I think most of the sexy software requires that everyone adapt to “how it works”.

    While I’m not saying that ERP can’t or shouldn’t be sexy – I think ERP may remain matronly until the demand for sexiness meets or exceeds the demand for configurability.

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