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).

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. Enterprise software is a specialty market, as such it’s not going to get covered in the mass press, rather the trades (eWeek and such), and the System Integrators that have detailed knowledge, aren’t going to be blogging or worrying over pointless CPMs, they have companies to fix. Most “tech bloggers” wouldn’t know ERP if it lived next door, they are too busy playing with their sexy iPhones or Kindles, and adding fake-friends to their Facebook profiles.

    And you have to read between the Gates-speak, he knows full well that the PC World’s and CNET’s aren’t going to cover the Enterprise, what he’s really steaming about is that the trades aren’t covering Microsoft Dynamics itself, but after the trainwreck mish-mash of Axapta, Great Plains, Navision and Solomon, not hard to see why. Microsoft’s Enterprise storyline lack serious focus and has just been a seriously mixed-up casserole, attaching whatever parts to the plane to somehow make it take-off, hardly strategic.

    The failure is not the in the lack of ‘sexiness’, the failure is in the product itself. But marketingese types think you only need to sex things up and the world will be fine.

    PS – You know, correcting your non-stop faulty analysis could be a full-time job, geesh. I better cash in my chips.

  2. Enterprise software is a specialty market, as such it’s not going to get covered in the mass press, rather the trades (eWeek and such), and the System Integrators that have detailed knowledge, aren’t going to be blogging or worrying over pointless CPMs, they have companies to fix. Most “tech bloggers” wouldn’t know ERP if it lived next door, they are too busy playing with their sexy iPhones or Kindles, and adding fake-friends to their Facebook profiles.

    And you have to read between the Gates-speak, he knows full well that the PC World’s and CNET’s aren’t going to cover the Enterprise, what he’s really steaming about is that the trades aren’t covering Microsoft Dynamics itself, but after the trainwreck mish-mash of Axapta, Great Plains, Navision and Solomon, not hard to see why. Microsoft’s Enterprise storyline lack serious focus and has just been a seriously mixed-up casserole, attaching whatever parts to the plane to somehow make it take-off, hardly strategic.

    The failure is not the in the lack of ‘sexiness’, the failure is in the product itself. But marketingese types think you only need to sex things up and the world will be fine.

    PS – You know, correcting your non-stop faulty analysis could be a full-time job, geesh. I better cash in my chips.

  3. I hate the fact that if something is not “Enterprise” software it’s labeled consumer software. Yes, regular customers can purpose Adobe’s CS3 Studio or Apple’s production studio suite but you average “consumer doesn’t use those. I’ve rarely used Enterprise software because most of the time I have worked for someone else it has been a small company or organization. I did use SAP when I was taking inventory a few years ago in a temp job but to tell the truth it wasn’t anything to “blog home about” at least from a user perspective.

    I now own my on business and it’s funny how many “free magazines” I get because I’m a business owner related to Enterprise type stuff. I’ve tried reading some of the articles in those but it’s not exactly stuff that grabs you. The best company I have had experience so far that does Enterprise stuff is BMC which has a good professional podcast. I found out about them when the host of the show read my blog and left a comment.

    I’m not sure how “sexy” business software should be but I really like what they are doing at 37 Signals. We are currently using Highrise and Basecamp and it suites our current contact and project management needs. We use Quickbooks for our in-house accounting needs. I think 37 Signals is filling a void and opportunity that a lot of the Enterprise companies are missing out on or ignoring. It’s not as much about being sexy as it is filling a need in the very large field of small businesses. I tend to get the feeling the Enterprise companies feel their are too good for the small business. How about making some versions for the small jobs and the self-employed?

  4. I hate the fact that if something is not “Enterprise” software it’s labeled consumer software. Yes, regular customers can purpose Adobe’s CS3 Studio or Apple’s production studio suite but you average “consumer doesn’t use those. I’ve rarely used Enterprise software because most of the time I have worked for someone else it has been a small company or organization. I did use SAP when I was taking inventory a few years ago in a temp job but to tell the truth it wasn’t anything to “blog home about” at least from a user perspective.

    I now own my on business and it’s funny how many “free magazines” I get because I’m a business owner related to Enterprise type stuff. I’ve tried reading some of the articles in those but it’s not exactly stuff that grabs you. The best company I have had experience so far that does Enterprise stuff is BMC which has a good professional podcast. I found out about them when the host of the show read my blog and left a comment.

    I’m not sure how “sexy” business software should be but I really like what they are doing at 37 Signals. We are currently using Highrise and Basecamp and it suites our current contact and project management needs. We use Quickbooks for our in-house accounting needs. I think 37 Signals is filling a void and opportunity that a lot of the Enterprise companies are missing out on or ignoring. It’s not as much about being sexy as it is filling a need in the very large field of small businesses. I tend to get the feeling the Enterprise companies feel their are too good for the small business. How about making some versions for the small jobs and the self-employed?

  5. If more people that make buying decision actually would have to work with the crap they buy you would see alot less Windows machines and more Macs on peoples desktops.

    I used to be a devote Windows fan boy… I remember laughing at OSX when it was first released. But times have changed. It’s hard going back to Vista once you’ve worked with Leopard. Blah blah system intregration, back end support. If you want real backend integration buy SAP and be done with it.

    The main reason why Microsoft sells to so many mid size corporations is because CIOs are being told across all levels that they are getting a cheap deal. Then thrown in a few perks like a fancy lunch and corporate box at the local game and you got a deal.

    The very strange thing is that coming from Windows I have developed this very convoluted thinking about computers. Everytime I work in Leopard I am recieving strange looks from my peers when talking about problems we might encounter only to discover that these are non-issues on a Mac simply because the whole computing approach is different.

    Coming back to the title of the post: have you recently looked at the people working in coporporate IT environments… you ask “why enterprise software isn’t sexy”? are you kidding me?

    Joshua Davis’s work is sexy…
    Panic.com’s work is sexy…
    Apple.com is sexy…

    Bill Gate? Monkey Boy (aka Balmer)? Sexy…? hm…. well, they both have a lot of money. Does that count? Is there an equivalent to beer goggles in terms of money?

  6. If more people that make buying decision actually would have to work with the crap they buy you would see alot less Windows machines and more Macs on peoples desktops.

    I used to be a devote Windows fan boy… I remember laughing at OSX when it was first released. But times have changed. It’s hard going back to Vista once you’ve worked with Leopard. Blah blah system intregration, back end support. If you want real backend integration buy SAP and be done with it.

    The main reason why Microsoft sells to so many mid size corporations is because CIOs are being told across all levels that they are getting a cheap deal. Then thrown in a few perks like a fancy lunch and corporate box at the local game and you got a deal.

    The very strange thing is that coming from Windows I have developed this very convoluted thinking about computers. Everytime I work in Leopard I am recieving strange looks from my peers when talking about problems we might encounter only to discover that these are non-issues on a Mac simply because the whole computing approach is different.

    Coming back to the title of the post: have you recently looked at the people working in coporporate IT environments… you ask “why enterprise software isn’t sexy”? are you kidding me?

    Joshua Davis’s work is sexy…
    Panic.com’s work is sexy…
    Apple.com is sexy…

    Bill Gate? Monkey Boy (aka Balmer)? Sexy…? hm…. well, they both have a lot of money. Does that count? Is there an equivalent to beer goggles in terms of money?

  7. I have worked in enterprise software my whole life. I think there are several explanations why enterprise applications aren’t “sexy”. Someone said that the last IT bubble hurt a lot of people, and not just in Silicon Valley but all over the world. A lot of people felt betrayed by their companies. First investing in an education and then a career, only to get the “pink slip” when the bubble burst, made a lot of disillusioned people. I think a lot of entrepreneurs moved from the enterprise market to the consumer market as a consequence. Now, enterprise businesses complain that people don’t invest in IT education any more, some even threaten to outsource if the situation doesn’t get better. For me, it’s a two way street. People need to feel a commitment from their company, if they are going to make a long term investment in education and career.

  8. I have worked in enterprise software my whole life. I think there are several explanations why enterprise applications aren’t “sexy”. Someone said that the last IT bubble hurt a lot of people, and not just in Silicon Valley but all over the world. A lot of people felt betrayed by their companies. First investing in an education and then a career, only to get the “pink slip” when the bubble burst, made a lot of disillusioned people. I think a lot of entrepreneurs moved from the enterprise market to the consumer market as a consequence. Now, enterprise businesses complain that people don’t invest in IT education any more, some even threaten to outsource if the situation doesn’t get better. For me, it’s a two way street. People need to feel a commitment from their company, if they are going to make a long term investment in education and career.

  9. Covering Computer Associates, Veritas and Oracle sounds like punishment. But I would benefit (and would have) if someone could reliably cover such silly things like backup software.

    Instead, we are stuck with white papers such as Microsoft’s paper on terminal server that says 200 users can utilize such-and-such box. We deploy a computer with four-times the power and get only 50 users on it before the processor hits 85%-100% utilization.

    Another problem with covering ent software is the size and complexity. You’d need a hardcore SysAdmin — who can write well — to breakdown these products.

    Several years ago, I subscribed to several expensive newsletters covering ent software. In the end, they didn’t help because there wasn’t enough detail or criticism. Too often the writers were consultants and I had the feeling their article was written to promote their services, not help me decide to use Veritas or CA’s archiving software.

    Finally, when buying ent software, a bit of you considers your exposure to making the wrong decision. A risk-averse decision is the antithesis of sexy.

  10. Covering Computer Associates, Veritas and Oracle sounds like punishment. But I would benefit (and would have) if someone could reliably cover such silly things like backup software.

    Instead, we are stuck with white papers such as Microsoft’s paper on terminal server that says 200 users can utilize such-and-such box. We deploy a computer with four-times the power and get only 50 users on it before the processor hits 85%-100% utilization.

    Another problem with covering ent software is the size and complexity. You’d need a hardcore SysAdmin — who can write well — to breakdown these products.

    Several years ago, I subscribed to several expensive newsletters covering ent software. In the end, they didn’t help because there wasn’t enough detail or criticism. Too often the writers were consultants and I had the feeling their article was written to promote their services, not help me decide to use Veritas or CA’s archiving software.

    Finally, when buying ent software, a bit of you considers your exposure to making the wrong decision. A risk-averse decision is the antithesis of sexy.

  11. Enterprise software sexy?

    Hm… perhaps when they start relying (much) more on dual-licensed open-source software.

    However, since such an event would require many non-geeky consultants getting kicked out of the business that is not likely to happen anytime soon. Remember, those are the guys sharing lunch tables with CIOs.

    “It’s the corporate politics, fool!”

  12. Enterprise software sexy?

    Hm… perhaps when they start relying (much) more on dual-licensed open-source software.

    However, since such an event would require many non-geeky consultants getting kicked out of the business that is not likely to happen anytime soon. Remember, those are the guys sharing lunch tables with CIOs.

    “It’s the corporate politics, fool!”

  13. […] found him to be a great guy and I like him. Having said that, let’s address the issue: Scoble asks his readers about enterprise software and demonstrates he doesn’t understand it: Any of you have any ideas on how to make business […]

  14. There is also the possibility that those decision makers who buy the Enterprise Software – just do not have the time to lounge around reading blogs.

    They are pursued by Salespeople, sent white papers and invited to seminars – they want the precise info they need when they need it.

    Their support staff may only have an interested in corresponding with a company’s technical help Engineers for answers to specific problems.

  15. There is also the possibility that those decision makers who buy the Enterprise Software – just do not have the time to lounge around reading blogs.

    They are pursued by Salespeople, sent white papers and invited to seminars – they want the precise info they need when they need it.

    Their support staff may only have an interested in corresponding with a company’s technical help Engineers for answers to specific problems.

  16. Robert, I am one of the Enterprise Irregulars and let me take a shot at responding…others will probably respond once they wake up on this fine Sunday morning…and hopefully be shorter than I have been. I started to put that long post in the comments here, but respectful of your real estate have posted it on my site…

    http://dealarchitect.typepad.com/deal_architect/2007/12/damn-proud-to-b.html

    I respond to a number of your points – our view of technology magic, Bill Gates’ comments above, our revenue sources beyond advertising…and end with

    “we will never have the glitz of following a Facebook or Twitter or am iPhone, but the software and other technologies we cover cut checks, invoice customers, design products, manage supply chains, keep the wheels of commerce turning.

    Aren’t you glad some of us find that sexy -)”

  17. Robert, I am one of the Enterprise Irregulars and let me take a shot at responding…others will probably respond once they wake up on this fine Sunday morning…and hopefully be shorter than I have been. I started to put that long post in the comments here, but respectful of your real estate have posted it on my site…

    http://dealarchitect.typepad.com/deal_architect/2007/12/damn-proud-to-b.html

    I respond to a number of your points – our view of technology magic, Bill Gates’ comments above, our revenue sources beyond advertising…and end with

    “we will never have the glitz of following a Facebook or Twitter or am iPhone, but the software and other technologies we cover cut checks, invoice customers, design products, manage supply chains, keep the wheels of commerce turning.

    Aren’t you glad some of us find that sexy -)”

  18. But, I don’t want my enterprise software to be sexy… I want it to work flawlessly every time, with no opportunity for error along the way. I really don’t care at all if it looks nice while it’s doing it.

    I think of Enterprise Software like a Bank. Negative traits for a financial institution would be: Sexy, Friendly, Chatty, Flashy. Positive traits would be: reliable, always available, knowledgeable. I want the people holding my money to treat me like a number, not a person.

    Sure, there’s no reason why you can’t fit into both buckets (knowledgeable AND sexy), but if 26 years as a target for consumer marketing has taught me anything, consumer appeal and product quality are almost always opposite ends of the spectrum. So, when I look for something of the highest quality, I generally don’t want to see anything that looks good. I don’t trust it.

  19. But, I don’t want my enterprise software to be sexy… I want it to work flawlessly every time, with no opportunity for error along the way. I really don’t care at all if it looks nice while it’s doing it.

    I think of Enterprise Software like a Bank. Negative traits for a financial institution would be: Sexy, Friendly, Chatty, Flashy. Positive traits would be: reliable, always available, knowledgeable. I want the people holding my money to treat me like a number, not a person.

    Sure, there’s no reason why you can’t fit into both buckets (knowledgeable AND sexy), but if 26 years as a target for consumer marketing has taught me anything, consumer appeal and product quality are almost always opposite ends of the spectrum. So, when I look for something of the highest quality, I generally don’t want to see anything that looks good. I don’t trust it.

  20. Sure it’s not sexy. But enterprise software enabled you to fly to London, check into your hotel. Enterprise software allows you to bank on line, use an ATM. Enterprise software was involved in building your car, building your laptop, designing and building your house. Enterprise software delivers your entertainment, enables the capturing of images used on Google Maps. Was likely involved in building and shipping your camera, your Kindle, and any other gadget you have. So, while it’s not “sexy”, it’s a bigger factor in your life than blogging, twitter and any other Web 2.0 flavor of the month.

  21. Sure it’s not sexy. But enterprise software enabled you to fly to London, check into your hotel. Enterprise software allows you to bank on line, use an ATM. Enterprise software was involved in building your car, building your laptop, designing and building your house. Enterprise software delivers your entertainment, enables the capturing of images used on Google Maps. Was likely involved in building and shipping your camera, your Kindle, and any other gadget you have. So, while it’s not “sexy”, it’s a bigger factor in your life than blogging, twitter and any other Web 2.0 flavor of the month.

  22. Sigurd of Thingamy, an Enterprise Irregular, is making the enterprise software sector interesting again. He has a bold attitude and refreshing views on how to create the next generation platform for business applications.

    I daily use SAP R/3 at work. Last night I played Gears of War on 360. Both of those are software products, but somehow the game seems light years ahead on design and technical levels. It gracefully manages massive amounts of data, as SAP R/3 just plods along…

  23. Sigurd of Thingamy, an Enterprise Irregular, is making the enterprise software sector interesting again. He has a bold attitude and refreshing views on how to create the next generation platform for business applications.

    I daily use SAP R/3 at work. Last night I played Gears of War on 360. Both of those are software products, but somehow the game seems light years ahead on design and technical levels. It gracefully manages massive amounts of data, as SAP R/3 just plods along…

  24. Dave typed: “consumer appeal and product quality are almost always opposite ends of the spectrum”

    Er, I guess you’ve never owned a Mac. The hardware has been much more reliable over the years than most Wintel boxes (or whatever name is used these days to include AMD).

  25. I’ll respond on my ZDNet blog for the same reasons as Vinnie but for now:

    The Fortune 500, Global 2000 and FTSE 350 are numbered such for a reason. There aren’t that many of them.

    If your iPhone fails, it’s news for a day. If your ERP doesn’t work, you’re out of business. A bit of a difference.

    It’s not about ad dollars, it’s about relative influence, a lot of which is hidden. You write a post, an extra x,000 people might buy an iPhone. Enterprisey types write a post, people include that in the complex decision making chain that could involve $millions.

    @Christopher: you’re talking nonsense. Dynamics is doing very well and far outstripping the general apps market in terms of growth. New SMB products are looking very good and upstream products are also looking much better than past offerings. But you’d actually have to look at them to know that.

  26. I’ll respond on my ZDNet blog for the same reasons as Vinnie but for now:

    The Fortune 500, Global 2000 and FTSE 350 are numbered such for a reason. There aren’t that many of them.

    If your iPhone fails, it’s news for a day. If your ERP doesn’t work, you’re out of business. A bit of a difference.

    It’s not about ad dollars, it’s about relative influence, a lot of which is hidden. You write a post, an extra x,000 people might buy an iPhone. Enterprisey types write a post, people include that in the complex decision making chain that could involve $millions.

    @Christopher: you’re talking nonsense. Dynamics is doing very well and far outstripping the general apps market in terms of growth. New SMB products are looking very good and upstream products are also looking much better than past offerings. But you’d actually have to look at them to know that.

  27. Dave typed: “consumer appeal and product quality are almost always opposite ends of the spectrum”

    Er, I guess you’ve never owned a Mac. The hardware has been much more reliable over the years than most Wintel boxes (or whatever name is used these days to include AMD).

  28. Dave is spot on with his point “Enterprise Software is like a bank…Positive traits would be: reliable, always available, knowledgeable.”

    But the move to SAS (software as a service) where users can customize the look & feel of the application, add plugins (in many cases free) that provide additional functionality immediately without begging IT, and get access from any computer is one area that has not gotten the attention it deserves. This is a major shift in how enterprise IT is delivered and consumed by users, and for some reason bloggers & media are more interested in covering the meaning of “is” in Facebook status — http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2007/11/21/dlface21.xml

  29. Dave is spot on with his point “Enterprise Software is like a bank…Positive traits would be: reliable, always available, knowledgeable.”

    But the move to SAS (software as a service) where users can customize the look & feel of the application, add plugins (in many cases free) that provide additional functionality immediately without begging IT, and get access from any computer is one area that has not gotten the attention it deserves. This is a major shift in how enterprise IT is delivered and consumed by users, and for some reason bloggers & media are more interested in covering the meaning of “is” in Facebook status — http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2007/11/21/dlface21.xml

  30. As a working journalist specialising in enterprise and development I have to point out that there are quite a lot of us following the subject, and often in some detail.

    However the market for copy is small, and perhaps not that obvious. Not many folk have heard of titles like Server Management. The Guardian’s Inside IT section worked well for several years (and pulled in the advertising dollars), until a change in editorial direction closed it down, so there’s not much big press coverage outside of the FT now. At least there’s now IT Pro as a web site with an enterprise focus and a budget…

    Blogging is fine, but it doesn’t pay the bills for most of us, and I really don’t fancy going back to trying to keep two careers running at once.

  31. As a working journalist specialising in enterprise and development I have to point out that there are quite a lot of us following the subject, and often in some detail.

    However the market for copy is small, and perhaps not that obvious. Not many folk have heard of titles like Server Management. The Guardian’s Inside IT section worked well for several years (and pulled in the advertising dollars), until a change in editorial direction closed it down, so there’s not much big press coverage outside of the FT now. At least there’s now IT Pro as a web site with an enterprise focus and a budget…

    Blogging is fine, but it doesn’t pay the bills for most of us, and I really don’t fancy going back to trying to keep two careers running at once.

  32. Scoble, blog traffic is not necessarily the reference point for impact. Todays’ leading consumer sector players all have aspirations to move into the enterprise space faster. I see huge opportunities in the fusion – the consumerization of enterprise technology has the potential to open up new powerful combinations. The possibilities of such fusion of different worlds may open up good chances for disruptive innovation – this provides a platform for such an ideal fertile ground that can lead up to a potential business model innovation – so enterprises need to be well prepared to capitalize on such possibilities. see my note
    http://123suds.blogspot.com/2007/12/enterprise-software-not-significant.html here.

  33. Scoble, blog traffic is not necessarily the reference point for impact. Todays’ leading consumer sector players all have aspirations to move into the enterprise space faster. I see huge opportunities in the fusion – the consumerization of enterprise technology has the potential to open up new powerful combinations. The possibilities of such fusion of different worlds may open up good chances for disruptive innovation – this provides a platform for such an ideal fertile ground that can lead up to a potential business model innovation – so enterprises need to be well prepared to capitalize on such possibilities. see my note
    http://123suds.blogspot.com/2007/12/enterprise-software-not-significant.html here.

  34. […] Robert Scoble wonders why enterprise applications aren’t sexy but in the process makes the fundamental mistake of assuming you can compare consumer to business in the blog model: 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. […]

  35. Sexiness in (enterprise) software

    Michael Krigsman blogs at his IT Project Failures in response to a Robert Scoble post asking why enterprise software isn’t sexy. Vinnie Mirchandani also responds on his Deal Architect blog. Scoble is asking why enterprise software doesn’t get more…

  36. I wonder how unglamorous all the software infrastructure is that makes sure iPhones are delivered on time to all the Apple stores.

    Speaking of, isn’t there a facebook app for Apple’s enterprise hardware and software? /cough

  37. I wonder how unglamorous all the software infrastructure is that makes sure iPhones are delivered on time to all the Apple stores.

    Speaking of, isn’t there a facebook app for Apple’s enterprise hardware and software? /cough

  38. When I do see writing about enterprise software, most often it involves saying how much it sucks. See recent stuff from Joel on Software (“all of these in house programs look like a dog’s breakfast: because it’s just not worth a penny to make them look nice”) and Airbag (“after six years big business still has no idea what to do with this blog thing”) and I Am Seb (“software engineers at the BBC [must] fight against a reticent and incompetent technology supplier to make use of a crippled and outdated language on servers that more than likely are unable to meet the capacity requirements”).

    A lot of enterprise software is not fun or interesting or even all that productive for its end users, so writing about it in a way that doesn’t seem like crawling through the fibreglass insulation in your attic on a hot day (something else that may be necessary, if not fun) can be difficult. Companies that can create enterprise software that not only works well and doesn’t break, but that is also engaging to use, should have a competitive advantage. That they often do not reflects how the spending decisions get made, which might also be the reason it doesn’t get written about by buzz-friendly bloggers.

  39. When I do see writing about enterprise software, most often it involves saying how much it sucks. See recent stuff from Joel on Software (“all of these in house programs look like a dog’s breakfast: because it’s just not worth a penny to make them look nice”) and Airbag (“after six years big business still has no idea what to do with this blog thing”) and I Am Seb (“software engineers at the BBC [must] fight against a reticent and incompetent technology supplier to make use of a crippled and outdated language on servers that more than likely are unable to meet the capacity requirements”).

    A lot of enterprise software is not fun or interesting or even all that productive for its end users, so writing about it in a way that doesn’t seem like crawling through the fibreglass insulation in your attic on a hot day (something else that may be necessary, if not fun) can be difficult. Companies that can create enterprise software that not only works well and doesn’t break, but that is also engaging to use, should have a competitive advantage. That they often do not reflects how the spending decisions get made, which might also be the reason it doesn’t get written about by buzz-friendly bloggers.

  40. The push to get SAP into smaller enterprises is a scandal on several fronts. Rather then repeat a litany, I will say that usability and training issues are the greatest stumbling blocks.

    I have just witnessed the decommissioning of a pre-production SAP system that was to serve a company of about 150 employees. The SAP consultants were, to put it charitably, criminals in every legal sense of the word in regards to fraudulent representations, collusion with the vendor, bait and switch in regards to functions and, finally, knowledge aforethought of the need for follow on fixes that were needed to make the installation minimally useful.

    The company scrapped the SAP install, and a wonderful young man actually cobbled together an amalgam of Web-Ware and existing Microsoft and linux products that now work seamlessly for this small business. Unorthodox? Surely. Supportable? We’ll see. A harbinger of thing to come? Certainly.

  41. The push to get SAP into smaller enterprises is a scandal on several fronts. Rather then repeat a litany, I will say that usability and training issues are the greatest stumbling blocks.

    I have just witnessed the decommissioning of a pre-production SAP system that was to serve a company of about 150 employees. The SAP consultants were, to put it charitably, criminals in every legal sense of the word in regards to fraudulent representations, collusion with the vendor, bait and switch in regards to functions and, finally, knowledge aforethought of the need for follow on fixes that were needed to make the installation minimally useful.

    The company scrapped the SAP install, and a wonderful young man actually cobbled together an amalgam of Web-Ware and existing Microsoft and linux products that now work seamlessly for this small business. Unorthodox? Surely. Supportable? We’ll see. A harbinger of thing to come? Certainly.

  42. Just read Michael Krigsman’s take on all this, and I’m confused. I thought your post was about why people don’t blog about enterprise software – they do, of course, but it’s usually boring as batsh!t – and not about criticizing enterprise applications more like consumer apps.

    I don’t think Michael Krigsman gets enterprise software particularly; It’s usually very expensive, very bloated, very hard to use, and very hard to keep running. In other words, very crap.

    We accept the awfulness of “enterprisey” software as a part of carrying on an enterprise in much the same way we accept company tax. But you’ll not catch me reading taxmeisters digest any time soon.

    Bring on the sexy.

  43. Just read Michael Krigsman’s take on all this, and I’m confused. I thought your post was about why people don’t blog about enterprise software – they do, of course, but it’s usually boring as batsh!t – and not about criticizing enterprise applications more like consumer apps.

    I don’t think Michael Krigsman gets enterprise software particularly; It’s usually very expensive, very bloated, very hard to use, and very hard to keep running. In other words, very crap.

    We accept the awfulness of “enterprisey” software as a part of carrying on an enterprise in much the same way we accept company tax. But you’ll not catch me reading taxmeisters digest any time soon.

    Bring on the sexy.

  44. Enterprise software works. CIOs evaluate it on those terms. What sells enterprise software is the list of features the software offers.

    I think the “sexyness” problem comes in when the end users of the application try to actually get work done using it. Enterprise software vendors put considerably more thought and resources into developing the sales-driving target feature set than they do an intuitive interface with a well thought out work flow.

    Rather than pointing fingers at vendors, perhaps we should look to the CIO. If they were demanding intuitive software that not only performed a task but actually made the task easier to perform, vendors would respond in kind.

  45. Enterprise software works. CIOs evaluate it on those terms. What sells enterprise software is the list of features the software offers.

    I think the “sexyness” problem comes in when the end users of the application try to actually get work done using it. Enterprise software vendors put considerably more thought and resources into developing the sales-driving target feature set than they do an intuitive interface with a well thought out work flow.

    Rather than pointing fingers at vendors, perhaps we should look to the CIO. If they were demanding intuitive software that not only performed a task but actually made the task easier to perform, vendors would respond in kind.

  46. I’ve only just started using enterprise software, and I agree it’s about the ugliest, clunky stuff I’ve ever seen. Yes, I’m glad it’s not going to fail, obviously, but would some UI thought make it fail? Can a company not attempt sexy and failproof, or is that not possible? Is it too much to ask that it not include a popup everytime I click an option? Must it look like hell? Is user experience so unimportant that it not even be a thought, not even warranting UI testing?

  47. I’ve only just started using enterprise software, and I agree it’s about the ugliest, clunky stuff I’ve ever seen. Yes, I’m glad it’s not going to fail, obviously, but would some UI thought make it fail? Can a company not attempt sexy and failproof, or is that not possible? Is it too much to ask that it not include a popup everytime I click an option? Must it look like hell? Is user experience so unimportant that it not even be a thought, not even warranting UI testing?

  48. […] Robert Scoble manages to get a bunch of us chattering about why enterprise software isn’t sexy. Along with a number of my enterprise colleagues, I’ve had a crack at Robert’s argument. Truth is, most software isn’t meant to be sexy, it’s meant to get a job done. The two don’t always go hand in hand. […]

  49. Why enterprise software isn’t sexy

    Scoble asks why Enterprise software isn’t “sexy”. We think it can be, should be, and will be! What makes software sexy? Ease of use, solves real problems, and saves time/money. Simple. Add in a little bit of the best of Social Ne…

  50. On your question about good blogs, you might try reading Keystones And Rivets. The guy who writes it, Paul Wallis, analyzes the whole business IT relationship in a way that as far as I can see is not only unique but easy to understand, and I come from a finance background. If you are skeptical, check out his posts on Alignment, EA and ERP. Speaking to a few tech experts I know, I’m told his stuff is fairly ground-breaking.

  51. Wow, Robert, you really stirred up those Enterprise Software guys :p I think its amazing how many of them fell back on the old “its more complex than you realize, you just don’t understand” chestnut. Reminds me of all the old mainframe guys trying to defend their turf as everyone moved to personal computers. A change SHOULD be coming, and the old school IT/Enterprise guys are the first that should be put out of work.

  52. On your question about good blogs, you might try reading Keystones And Rivets. The guy who writes it, Paul Wallis, analyzes the whole business IT relationship in a way that as far as I can see is not only unique but easy to understand, and I come from a finance background. If you are skeptical, check out his posts on Alignment, EA and ERP. Speaking to a few tech experts I know, I’m told his stuff is fairly ground-breaking.

  53. Wow, Robert, you really stirred up those Enterprise Software guys :p I think its amazing how many of them fell back on the old “its more complex than you realize, you just don’t understand” chestnut. Reminds me of all the old mainframe guys trying to defend their turf as everyone moved to personal computers. A change SHOULD be coming, and the old school IT/Enterprise guys are the first that should be put out of work.

  54. Funny, I read this blog post a couple of hours ago and re-read it after seeing all the noise from other bloggers.

    Robert, in my humble opinion unlike what you said “Instead, let’s look at the business of journalism or even of blogging. We’re paid to deliver page views.”

    I beg to differ. You are paid to create interesting, engaging and entertaining content.

    By doing that, you’ll get the page views. Which means if you created interesting, engaging and entertaining content about Enterprise Software, you’ll get page views.

    You made a career talking about a lot of Enterprise software with Microsoft or have you tried to forget that?

  55. Funny, I read this blog post a couple of hours ago and re-read it after seeing all the noise from other bloggers.

    Robert, in my humble opinion unlike what you said “Instead, let’s look at the business of journalism or even of blogging. We’re paid to deliver page views.”

    I beg to differ. You are paid to create interesting, engaging and entertaining content.

    By doing that, you’ll get the page views. Which means if you created interesting, engaging and entertaining content about Enterprise Software, you’ll get page views.

    You made a career talking about a lot of Enterprise software with Microsoft or have you tried to forget that?

  56. So, why is it so?

    For the same reason there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of magazines on interior decorating and design, and relatively few magazines covering say, bricks and mortar. Dramatic lighting is sexy; cinder blocks, not so much: YOU CAN’T SEE the cinder blocks once the building is built.

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

    Hmmm. Do cinder blocks need to be sexy? Not really; they mostly need to be reliable and cheap. In fact, “sexy” might be the wrong thing to go for; you might want your business software to seem EXTREMELY RELIABLE, PREDICTABLE, DULL and COST-EFFECTIVE. Enterprise software is the accountant; consumer software is the receptionist.

    There’s also a desire to copy what other people are doing, to use tried-and-true industry standards, which is why ads for Microsoft SQL Server are always saying “look at all these other people using our software.” Note they are not trying to appeal to gearheads (they downplay emphasis on TPC-C & other benchmarks), and they’re not screaming about their new features. The overall message is one of solidness and robustness — “if our software is good enough for (name recognition massive application), it’s good enough for you.”

    There are “fashion trends” in business software but they tend to be slower and more low-key. Sticking with SQL Server as an example, there was a time it was considered a toy database, and “real” databases were in Oracle. Well that changed! The same thing is slowly happening with MySQL.

    Now if your goal is to sell more software (as opposed to just making it “sexy”), you should investigate why that kind of migration happens… My guess is that it has not so much to do with being “sexy”….

  57. So, why is it so?

    For the same reason there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of magazines on interior decorating and design, and relatively few magazines covering say, bricks and mortar. Dramatic lighting is sexy; cinder blocks, not so much: YOU CAN’T SEE the cinder blocks once the building is built.

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

    Hmmm. Do cinder blocks need to be sexy? Not really; they mostly need to be reliable and cheap. In fact, “sexy” might be the wrong thing to go for; you might want your business software to seem EXTREMELY RELIABLE, PREDICTABLE, DULL and COST-EFFECTIVE. Enterprise software is the accountant; consumer software is the receptionist.

    There’s also a desire to copy what other people are doing, to use tried-and-true industry standards, which is why ads for Microsoft SQL Server are always saying “look at all these other people using our software.” Note they are not trying to appeal to gearheads (they downplay emphasis on TPC-C & other benchmarks), and they’re not screaming about their new features. The overall message is one of solidness and robustness — “if our software is good enough for (name recognition massive application), it’s good enough for you.”

    There are “fashion trends” in business software but they tend to be slower and more low-key. Sticking with SQL Server as an example, there was a time it was considered a toy database, and “real” databases were in Oracle. Well that changed! The same thing is slowly happening with MySQL.

    Now if your goal is to sell more software (as opposed to just making it “sexy”), you should investigate why that kind of migration happens… My guess is that it has not so much to do with being “sexy”….

  58. I explored the notion of why people who are exposed daily to high interface and interaction values inherent in TV, movies, advertising, magazines and gadgets in the consumer sphere are somehow supposed to be rendered incapable of expecting and appreciating the same within the walls of the enterprise from 9 to 5, with a dozen enterprise examples that aren’t sexy:

    What isn’t sexy enterprise software?

  59. I explored the notion of why people who are exposed daily to high interface and interaction values inherent in TV, movies, advertising, magazines and gadgets in the consumer sphere are somehow supposed to be rendered incapable of expecting and appreciating the same within the walls of the enterprise from 9 to 5, with a dozen enterprise examples that aren’t sexy:

    What isn’t sexy enterprise software?

  60. Herschel: please note that I don’t have advertising here (yet) and so, for me, I don’t really care about page views. But, let’s be clear about this: a post about Apple computer recently brought 10x more hits than the one yesterday, even though the one yesterday was talked about on lots of blogs and got to the top of TechMeme. The traffic doesn’t support your thesis that talking about Enterprise Software will generate good page views.

    In truth I bet it DOES generate great influence, though, because the few people who buy Enterprise Software weild so much buying power.

  61. Herschel: please note that I don’t have advertising here (yet) and so, for me, I don’t really care about page views. But, let’s be clear about this: a post about Apple computer recently brought 10x more hits than the one yesterday, even though the one yesterday was talked about on lots of blogs and got to the top of TechMeme. The traffic doesn’t support your thesis that talking about Enterprise Software will generate good page views.

    In truth I bet it DOES generate great influence, though, because the few people who buy Enterprise Software weild so much buying power.

  62. I’m not sure it’s possible to make enterprise software “sexy”. If by “sexy” we mean engaging, easy-to-use, stuff like that.

    There’s been a whole bunch of discussion on this, but little addressing of your actual question(s), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I suppose.

    Why isn’t “enterprise” software sexy? I’d submit that the principal answer may lies in the source: enterprises. It takes a large company to build a large system, which in pretty much every case I’m aware of will drive every ounce of passion, individuality and flair right out.

    Companies like Fog Creek produce sexy software (I enjoyed attending the London leg of Joel’s World Tour last month) but I doubt that they could produce anything near as attractive were they 10,000 strong with eight layers of management and distributed over several locations and timezones. We just don’t have the organisational tools to do that yet, if we ever will.

    The current (and future?) generations of enterprise-ware will scale: that’s their differentiating factor. We can hope that they’ll work (mostly) reliably and that support and training will exist and that they won’t be so opaque that the purchasers incur significant risk through uninformed misuse.

    It could change, although I think it’s unlikely. A possible route might be through niche software providers along, to stick with the above example, the Fog Creek model, to make it easy to integrate their products with other similarly “sexy” instances, so that the enterprise can work on a great big sexy mash-up. The obvious barriers are (at least) twofold: first the sexy builders don’t have any particular business incentive to create an API and second, the interfaces are likely to need standardising, which can be a slow train to nowhere.

    But the thought that I might one day not have to put up with Lotus Notes (without quitting my current job, that is) makes me hope.

    And the rest of my family collapsing with flu made me miss Friday, which sounds to have been a blast. Durnit.

  63. I’m not sure it’s possible to make enterprise software “sexy”. If by “sexy” we mean engaging, easy-to-use, stuff like that.

    There’s been a whole bunch of discussion on this, but little addressing of your actual question(s), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I suppose.

    Why isn’t “enterprise” software sexy? I’d submit that the principal answer may lies in the source: enterprises. It takes a large company to build a large system, which in pretty much every case I’m aware of will drive every ounce of passion, individuality and flair right out.

    Companies like Fog Creek produce sexy software (I enjoyed attending the London leg of Joel’s World Tour last month) but I doubt that they could produce anything near as attractive were they 10,000 strong with eight layers of management and distributed over several locations and timezones. We just don’t have the organisational tools to do that yet, if we ever will.

    The current (and future?) generations of enterprise-ware will scale: that’s their differentiating factor. We can hope that they’ll work (mostly) reliably and that support and training will exist and that they won’t be so opaque that the purchasers incur significant risk through uninformed misuse.

    It could change, although I think it’s unlikely. A possible route might be through niche software providers along, to stick with the above example, the Fog Creek model, to make it easy to integrate their products with other similarly “sexy” instances, so that the enterprise can work on a great big sexy mash-up. The obvious barriers are (at least) twofold: first the sexy builders don’t have any particular business incentive to create an API and second, the interfaces are likely to need standardising, which can be a slow train to nowhere.

    But the thought that I might one day not have to put up with Lotus Notes (without quitting my current job, that is) makes me hope.

    And the rest of my family collapsing with flu made me miss Friday, which sounds to have been a blast. Durnit.

  64. […] in to a raging debate on why Enterprise software sucks.  First Robert Scoble chimes in and asks why enterprise software isn’t sexy, then Michael Krigsman says Scoble doesn’t understand enterprise software, then Nick Carr […]

  65. Consumer software can be sexy because we interact with it. Good consumer software excites, engages and delights us because we’re in a relationship with it.

    Enterprise software will never be sexy because we don’t directly, personally interact with it.

    But behind every sexy consumer software solution is ten times as much substance (and value) in quiet, enabling, “just do it” enterprise software.

    Don’t sweat it! It’s supposed to be this way.

  66. Consumer software can be sexy because we interact with it. Good consumer software excites, engages and delights us because we’re in a relationship with it.

    Enterprise software will never be sexy because we don’t directly, personally interact with it.

    But behind every sexy consumer software solution is ten times as much substance (and value) in quiet, enabling, “just do it” enterprise software.

    Don’t sweat it! It’s supposed to be this way.

  67. The Stepchild Of Enterprise Software

    Robert Scoble started a great discussion about the sexyness of enterprise software. Michael Krigsman, Nicholas Carr, Phil Wainewright, Goerge Ou and many others stepped in. I’ve never worked in a project building a consumer application. But since 10 y…

  68. I believe that it’s time for a small software company to start creating small-business enterprise apps–and make them look and act well at a reasonable price–it can be done. The big boys are not cut out for this–they are too entrenched in their old way of viewing things and too hung up on the technology to realize that what really matters is how it feels to the end-user. (they are affecting millions of lives here–day-in and day-out) Reliability and performance are part of that, but so far every enterprise system out there looks and feels really unprofessional, awkward and is a pain to use. Hard to believe when the systems sell for millions.

  69. I believe that it’s time for a small software company to start creating small-business enterprise apps–and make them look and act well at a reasonable price–it can be done. The big boys are not cut out for this–they are too entrenched in their old way of viewing things and too hung up on the technology to realize that what really matters is how it feels to the end-user. (they are affecting millions of lives here–day-in and day-out) Reliability and performance are part of that, but so far every enterprise system out there looks and feels really unprofessional, awkward and is a pain to use. Hard to believe when the systems sell for millions.

  70. It depends on the software and the company that it comes from.

    The Lotus Notes/Domino community is pretty actively blogged, and discussed out there. Google IBM Lotus blog sometime.

  71. It depends on the software and the company that it comes from.

    The Lotus Notes/Domino community is pretty actively blogged, and discussed out there. Google IBM Lotus blog sometime.

  72. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Why Scoble is right AND wrong about enterprise software

    Robert Scoble, made quasi-famous for blogging early and often while an employee at Microsoft, now rarely revisits topics that revolve around enterprise computing. But this weekend, in reaction to comments recently made by Bill Gates, Scoble opines abou…

  73. Enterprise Software gets “sexy” when end users, not only CIOs and IT, are given the ability to take matters into their own hands and decide what product to use themselves. The on-demand model has made this easy. This coupled with a high degree of self-service customization (and reliability) breeds customer satisfaction and hence broader adoption. Salesforce, NetSuite and Taleo have proven this in the SMB markets.

    New do-it-yourself PaaS (platform as a service) offerings are taking this a step further by providing business users with the tools to design and deploy entirely new business apps themselves without necessarily writing code. These kinds of platforms are poised for adoption at the grassroots level. In the newish world of on-demand enterprise software end users are demanding to be empowered with self-service customization:

    http://blog.rollbase.com/2007/10/self-service-customization.html

    What is “sexy” is in the eye of the beholder — if your enterprise software cannot dynamically adapt to fit the beholder’s whim, someone else’s will. It is becoming easier and easier to pack up and switch vendors if you are not happy with the product. Still not happy? Roll your own.

    Matt Robinson
    http://www.rollbase.com
    blog.rollbase.com

  74. Enterprise Software gets “sexy” when end users, not only CIOs and IT, are given the ability to take matters into their own hands and decide what product to use themselves. The on-demand model has made this easy. This coupled with a high degree of self-service customization (and reliability) breeds customer satisfaction and hence broader adoption. Salesforce, NetSuite and Taleo have proven this in the SMB markets.

    New do-it-yourself PaaS (platform as a service) offerings are taking this a step further by providing business users with the tools to design and deploy entirely new business apps themselves without necessarily writing code. These kinds of platforms are poised for adoption at the grassroots level. In the newish world of on-demand enterprise software end users are demanding to be empowered with self-service customization:

    http://blog.rollbase.com/2007/10/self-service-customization.html

    What is “sexy” is in the eye of the beholder — if your enterprise software cannot dynamically adapt to fit the beholder’s whim, someone else’s will. It is becoming easier and easier to pack up and switch vendors if you are not happy with the product. Still not happy? Roll your own.

    Matt Robinson
    http://www.rollbase.com
    blog.rollbase.com

  75. Consumer software becomes enterprise software. Because what we call consumer software is typically younger, easier to use, and has a smaller featureset it is more interesting to discuss and there’s more opportunity to make an impact on it.

    Enterprise software seems to exist for itself. Features are mostly about keeping existing customers locked in and the realization of cool new features undergoes a much, much longer development time.

  76. Consumer software becomes enterprise software. Because what we call consumer software is typically younger, easier to use, and has a smaller featureset it is more interesting to discuss and there’s more opportunity to make an impact on it.

    Enterprise software seems to exist for itself. Features are mostly about keeping existing customers locked in and the realization of cool new features undergoes a much, much longer development time.

  77. Enterprise software must be sexy, but that is to address the issue of acceptance by the users. For a CIO to implement an Enterprise application based on looks however means that he has no clue. Functionality, stability and support should drive the sale of a product and sexiness should be way down the list of requirements.

    I have been using SAP in my corporation for many years. We have 120000+ users on it and I must say stability has never been an issue (in my humble opinion that is). However, I’ve always been negative towards the product because it’s complicated and ugly. Seriously, it’s damn ugly. So the usability and user interface really prevented me and many other users to accept the product for what it can do, and rather looked at it as a useful yet ugly old Betty.

    It’s a bit of a catch 22 though, because sexy interfaces are usually resource intensive, just look at Vista and Office 2007. Beautiful interfaces (yeah I know what you are thinking MAC fans), but who wants to buy those powerful machines for their corporation, SMB or even one-man-show businesses to run a single simple application, sometimes requiring no more than a few MB of RAM?

    I’m in two minds about this one…..

    Sneaky Puffadder

  78. Enterprise software must be sexy, but that is to address the issue of acceptance by the users. For a CIO to implement an Enterprise application based on looks however means that he has no clue. Functionality, stability and support should drive the sale of a product and sexiness should be way down the list of requirements.

    I have been using SAP in my corporation for many years. We have 120000+ users on it and I must say stability has never been an issue (in my humble opinion that is). However, I’ve always been negative towards the product because it’s complicated and ugly. Seriously, it’s damn ugly. So the usability and user interface really prevented me and many other users to accept the product for what it can do, and rather looked at it as a useful yet ugly old Betty.

    It’s a bit of a catch 22 though, because sexy interfaces are usually resource intensive, just look at Vista and Office 2007. Beautiful interfaces (yeah I know what you are thinking MAC fans), but who wants to buy those powerful machines for their corporation, SMB or even one-man-show businesses to run a single simple application, sometimes requiring no more than a few MB of RAM?

    I’m in two minds about this one…..

    Sneaky Puffadder

  79. Just because enterprise software is geeky and bloated doesn’t mean that it isn’t trying it’s durndest to be sexy. Let’s review the last few enterprise software waves: 1) client/server computing – an attempt to do in the enterprise what people had been doing for years on home pcs, 2) thin/client computing – a mass enterprise hysteria for all things internet, driven by a mass consumer hysteria for all things internet, 3) Web 2.0/Rich Internet app stuff – a slavish insistence that enterprise software be as usable as, for example typepad or blogger.

  80. Just because enterprise software is geeky and bloated doesn’t mean that it isn’t trying it’s durndest to be sexy. Let’s review the last few enterprise software waves: 1) client/server computing – an attempt to do in the enterprise what people had been doing for years on home pcs, 2) thin/client computing – a mass enterprise hysteria for all things internet, driven by a mass consumer hysteria for all things internet, 3) Web 2.0/Rich Internet app stuff – a slavish insistence that enterprise software be as usable as, for example typepad or blogger.

  81. The fact the person who makes the purchasing decision means vendors can get away with the cruddiest user interface you can imagine, but that’s not the root cause.

    Enterprise software will never be sexy just as accounting will never be sexy, and for exactly the same reasons.

  82. The fact the person who makes the purchasing decision means vendors can get away with the cruddiest user interface you can imagine, but that’s not the root cause.

    Enterprise software will never be sexy just as accounting will never be sexy, and for exactly the same reasons.

  83. […] OK, so Enterprise 2.0 is not sexy – or not as sexy as, say, reaching out to the coolest bloggers and Facebook group leaders to jaw about your product/service. But it does bring your coworkers together for free thinking and innovation not currently possible on a day-to-day basis. Enterprise 2.0 is the most powerful way to manage unpredictable (and hugely productive) things that happen on the job. […]

  84. […] Robert Schoble asking this question over on his blog got me thinking about one of the reasons why I first starting exploring use of web2.0 in the enterprise – the gulf in usability and end-user satisfaction between what is available on the web and what’s typically served up in the enterprise workplace.  I figured that in order to get more users over the ’hump’ of online collaboration and knowledge sharing we better make damned sure the software they used was simple, quick and painless to use, and more than that encouraged them to do more.  I go to conferences and hear business users talking about use of enterprise software as a ”necessary evil” – doesn’t suggest to me that users will use the software for anything more than has been mandated in their roles and responsibilities, i.e. the minimum they need to. […]

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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

  88. 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

  89. 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.

  90. 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.

  91. […] I would have never thought to find a beautiful user experience in an enterprise application, but recently Frog Design helped ship an application called “Lawson Smart Client” powered by Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) that I think changes the game for software user experiences both in and out of the enterprise. Obviously Robert Scoble wasn’t staring at this when he asked “Why enterprise software isn’t sexy“. […]

  92. […] There’s all sort of conclusions to be made, but I can easily start by saying to Robert Scoble that he was wrong in “Why enterprise software isn’t sexy“. […]

  93. […] Posted by Susan Scrupski on January 29, 2008 I spent Friday afternoon with an impressive technology crowd that gathered here in Austin from Avenue A | Razorfish. I’ve blogged many times over the past few years about how these Interactive Agencies hold the keys to the kingdom on bringing “sexyback” to the Enterprise. It’s been nearly a few months since the blog/firestorm kicked up starting with Mr. Bill (Gates) fueled by Scobleizer. […]

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. 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.