The story of 2009? Enterprise disruption?

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In addition to the interview I did yesterday with socialtext, which explores some of the disruption coming to enterprises, there’s another trend I’m tracking: the coming fight between the collaborative web and Microsoft.

Now some pundits in the industry think that the fight will be head on. Not me. I think it’ll be more parasitic. Like how mold takes over a strawberry. Slow, but in the end the strawberry dies.

Is that what we’re seeing now? Well, here’s something that is a small piece of the bigger trend. You could call it a few cells of mold on the strawberry, if you’d like.

What is it? Panorama Software for Google Apps. I shot two videos with Oudi Antebi, VP of marketing and strategy of Panorama Software. Never heard of them? Neither had I, but what they are doing is very disruptive to bigger companies:

Part I. Where we discover what is happening in the Business Intelligence space and learn what Panorama Software is doing. (This video is embedded above).
Part II. Demo of how the Panorama gadget is used to display real-time data.

So, why did this catch my eye? First, they are taking something very expensive, Business Intelligence charting and dashboarding, and making it free. That alone is pretty disruptive. When Microsoft is charging $a few hundred a seat (and Microsoft is disrupting lots of other players in the market who charge a lot more than that) you know there’s disruption when some new player comes along and under prices everyone.

But don’t focus on that disruption.

Instead, look at the bigger picture. Here they are using Google spreadsheets to bring you live, collaborative, business intelligence. Watch the second video to see how different this is from most of the “old-school” approaches that haven’t yet built on a platform designed for the web from the start.

See that’s the real disruption: there’s a new platform being built. Right now it’s ugly and incomplete. But every year it gets better and better. Will 2009 be the year when lots of you try out a web-based collaboration suite like the ones from Zoho or Google?

I am sensing “yes” is the answer. Why? The economy is forcing big companies to cut every cost they can and this stuff is not only lower cost (often free, or a few bucks a month) but it also is much more productive. Now anyone in a group can update a spreadsheet and everyone in the company can see that activity in real time.

This is very powerful and useful. I remember visiting Printing for Less a few years back. They had graphs like this on their intranet for all their employees. But now anyone can build them for very little money.

And keep watching, this stuff isn’t only for Google. It is for Salesforce.com and other enterprise data.

After the cameras were off he showed me something else they are working on for 2009. He swore me to secrecy, but I can say this, if what he showed me comes out a lot of things will be flipped and a lot of people will finally get some use out of the collaborative world.

The other question for 2009 is will Microsoft’s slow efforts to “webize” its Office Suite be enough to keep these trends at bay for another year? My gut feeling? Microsoft is so strong and so well capitalized and living off of the continued strong momentum that it won’t be hurt in 2009 but by the end of the year most pundits will start noticing the fuzz on the strawberry and will start asking deep questions of Microsoft’s leadership.

Who said that enterprise software was boring?

Comments

  1. If the strawberry sat stagnant, molding away, I’d be pessimistic re Microsoft’s chances and would agree with you. But it’s a moving target, improving its own web platforms (Azure, Mobile, other semantic stuff to come). I’m biased, but genuinely optimistic. But I definitely agree – the enterprise space in 09-10 will be enormously active battlespace.

  2. If the strawberry sat stagnant, molding away, I’d be pessimistic re Microsoft’s chances and would agree with you. But it’s a moving target, improving its own web platforms (Azure, Mobile, other semantic stuff to come). I’m biased, but genuinely optimistic. But I definitely agree – the enterprise space in 09-10 will be enormously active battlespace.

  3. The analytic capability on google docs is simply awesome! For majority of the BI customers, install and configuration is the biggest challenge and they spend millions of dollars. However, penetrating enterprise space could have a lot of hurdles though.
    Especially large corps are security freaks. You require a gmail account to analyze my sales data, that will not happen (especially issues like this http://tinyurl.com/7ojpab dont help). That said I can see a huge number of startups, small shops and individuals will love this! I can see the Microsoft analytic customers being interested in this. Oracle, SAP and IBM customers not so much.

    Disclaimer: I work at Oracle (part of Hyperion acquisition).

  4. The analytic capability on google docs is simply awesome! For majority of the BI customers, install and configuration is the biggest challenge and they spend millions of dollars. However, penetrating enterprise space could have a lot of hurdles though.
    Especially large corps are security freaks. You require a gmail account to analyze my sales data, that will not happen (especially issues like this http://tinyurl.com/7ojpab dont help). That said I can see a huge number of startups, small shops and individuals will love this! I can see the Microsoft analytic customers being interested in this. Oracle, SAP and IBM customers not so much.

    Disclaimer: I work at Oracle (part of Hyperion acquisition).

  5. Oh my Robert – if only life was that simple or that the returns were such as to trigger serious CXO spend. There are way bigger fish to fry.

  6. Absolutely right on. In the early to mid 90’s companies moved away from in-house software to Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems. IT departments were slow to respond to the internal needs of a company. The COTS software was seen as a way to improve that. SAP was once of the first to break into the enterprise with their “Client-Server” software. Over the years, the major COTS systems are just as (if not more) unresponsive to the needs of the business. Companies need to innovate their processes at an ever increasing speed. They can’t afford to wait for release cycles. Customization of the COTS systems by “consultants” has become the attempt to meet this need. Frequent upgrade cycles are no longer possible.

    In the last 10 years, a new software development paradigm has developed. Open Source or the “Power of the community”. Truly forward thinking and innovative enterprises will realize that adopting this paradigm by supporting development with their own in-house staff of developers will leverage a small staff to contribute to the next big paradigm shift in Enterprise Support Software (ERP replacement). Applying this toward such software as OpenBravo (and others) will yield a very targeted system that exactly supports innovation at the necessary speed to reduce costs and improve process for enterprises AND their customers/supply chain.

  7. Absolutely right on. In the early to mid 90’s companies moved away from in-house software to Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems. IT departments were slow to respond to the internal needs of a company. The COTS software was seen as a way to improve that. SAP was once of the first to break into the enterprise with their “Client-Server” software. Over the years, the major COTS systems are just as (if not more) unresponsive to the needs of the business. Companies need to innovate their processes at an ever increasing speed. They can’t afford to wait for release cycles. Customization of the COTS systems by “consultants” has become the attempt to meet this need. Frequent upgrade cycles are no longer possible.

    In the last 10 years, a new software development paradigm has developed. Open Source or the “Power of the community”. Truly forward thinking and innovative enterprises will realize that adopting this paradigm by supporting development with their own in-house staff of developers will leverage a small staff to contribute to the next big paradigm shift in Enterprise Support Software (ERP replacement). Applying this toward such software as OpenBravo (and others) will yield a very targeted system that exactly supports innovation at the necessary speed to reduce costs and improve process for enterprises AND their customers/supply chain.

  8. I find moving everything to the web in a business setting is very risky. I would much prefer to have systems local when something goes wrong. I’ve yet to have the type of customer service for remote services (think web hosts) that I can provide in house. Moving everything to the web also puts your data closer to would be attackers. No thanks.

  9. I find moving everything to the web in a business setting is very risky. I would much prefer to have systems local when something goes wrong. I’ve yet to have the type of customer service for remote services (think web hosts) that I can provide in house. Moving everything to the web also puts your data closer to would be attackers. No thanks.

  10. I would love to see you do an interview of Christian Chabot of Tableau Software. Tableau provides an excellent BI visualization tool which I’ve been using effectively for over a year now.

  11. I would love to see you do an interview of Christian Chabot of Tableau Software. Tableau provides an excellent BI visualization tool which I’ve been using effectively for over a year now.

  12. Tableau is at a price point MUCH lower than the big boys and offers much better visualization capability than what I saw in your piece. This space is going to explode and it won’t be the big guys making it happen. Tableau, Panorama and others are going to bring this to the masses. Think of the billions of bits of “dark data” that get added in the world every minute…and making it available in accessible ways.

  13. Tableau is at a price point MUCH lower than the big boys and offers much better visualization capability than what I saw in your piece. This space is going to explode and it won’t be the big guys making it happen. Tableau, Panorama and others are going to bring this to the masses. Think of the billions of bits of “dark data” that get added in the world every minute…and making it available in accessible ways.

  14. I like Google Docs and this is a good idea, but still lightyears away from being usable.

    – I found it to be extremely slow, even though I just had 2K rows, which really is nothing.
    – It was very unresponsive in general (timed out a couple of times)
    – I found it to be far less intuitive than Excel Pivot table.
    – It has extremely limited functionality,e.g. it did not even have a count function.

  15. I like Google Docs and this is a good idea, but still lightyears away from being usable.

    – I found it to be extremely slow, even though I just had 2K rows, which really is nothing.
    – It was very unresponsive in general (timed out a couple of times)
    – I found it to be far less intuitive than Excel Pivot table.
    – It has extremely limited functionality,e.g. it did not even have a count function.

  16. “Now anyone in a group can update a spreadsheet and everyone in the company can see that activity in real time.”

    I hear the next version of office (Office 14) has full web based office applications, with collaboration etc.

  17. “Now anyone in a group can update a spreadsheet and everyone in the company can see that activity in real time.”

    I hear the next version of office (Office 14) has full web based office applications, with collaboration etc.

  18. Nice interview, Robert! While Zoho Sheet has inbuilt macros and pivot tables, Google Spreadsheets took the third party route to bring in pivot tables support through Panorama. Regarding business intelligence on-demand, it’s a hot space to watch as you say and lots to happen in 09-10.

  19. Nice interview, Robert! While Zoho Sheet has inbuilt macros and pivot tables, Google Spreadsheets took the third party route to bring in pivot tables support through Panorama. Regarding business intelligence on-demand, it’s a hot space to watch as you say and lots to happen in 09-10.

  20. Many non-profits I work with are trapped in Sharepoint because they got it for free and are familiar with MSOfiice. They have hundreds of non-technical employees dispersed across the USA –mostly project managers in school/community settings– who desperately need real-time reports and intelligence.

    They don’t use the Sharepoint-based intranets (because the UI stinks) and don’t have time to learn/navigate excel to get the reports and intelligence they want.

    They would embrace a solution like Panorama’s and benefit from it greatly if:

    1. They could see a killer demo showing it used by similar organizations
    2. Their fears of security & reliable web connectivity could be allayed
    3. It were brought to them/endorsed by a company they trust like Google.

    RE #3, It would be interesting to see Panorama parter with Google to pro-actively bring this solution to non-profits.

  21. Many non-profits I work with are trapped in Sharepoint because they got it for free and are familiar with MSOfiice. They have hundreds of non-technical employees dispersed across the USA –mostly project managers in school/community settings– who desperately need real-time reports and intelligence.

    They don’t use the Sharepoint-based intranets (because the UI stinks) and don’t have time to learn/navigate excel to get the reports and intelligence they want.

    They would embrace a solution like Panorama’s and benefit from it greatly if:

    1. They could see a killer demo showing it used by similar organizations
    2. Their fears of security & reliable web connectivity could be allayed
    3. It were brought to them/endorsed by a company they trust like Google.

    RE #3, It would be interesting to see Panorama parter with Google to pro-actively bring this solution to non-profits.

  22. [...] learn, rolls with the punches and likes to put his neck on the line. I admire that. But seriously, holding out the likes of GoogleApps and Zoho as delivering enterprise disruption is ummm…interesting. I’m a huge fan of Zoho especially but there are far bigger fish to fry. As [...]

  23. I completely agree with the example you have given. Change will not happen overnight – it will take time-but it will! Just like the example you have given about mold and strawberry! Microsoft is an Icon in this sector and others are the followers. But surely unity is the power. So this business collaborative has the chance offer better service in the future. Moreover in time of economic downturn companies’ people have the tendency to try oyt all the free stuffs which can be a threat for MS.