Is Enterprise Software Innovation Dead?

Dennis Byron

There is a proposal floating among enterprise software venture capitalist (VC) types on Wall St. and the Silicon Valley. I'm asking if it has any impact on the working IT man and woman on Main St. (and High St., etc.). It looks like some kind of President-Obama-inspired Cumbuya enterprise software development proposal, suggesting that the large enterprise software developers, VCs and entrepreneurs all work together instead of at cross purposes.


Of course, like Obamanomics in the auto industry, it leaves out the user. (At least so far, the VC-inspried enterprise software development proposal also leaves out the government, but see my recent post on market share to see how Uncle Sam is going to start limiting your enterprise software choices.)


I'll save you the financial aspects of the proposal but its genesis is that VC investment in enterprise software has dried up since 1999/2000 and therefore enterprise software innovation has ground to a halt.


Let's forget the absurdity in the proposal of using the height of dot-com-era excess as something the investment community should emulate. Let's forget the absurdity in the proposal of using PeopleSoft, Hyperion and Siebel as examples of companies whose innovation was stifled. Let's forget the absurdity in the proposal that a "gauntlet of large companies" stifles enterprise software innovation when three of these four large enterprise software companies (Microsoft, Oracle and SAP) just came through the same gauntlet. And let's forget that there really are no really new innovations to be had but simply constant improvement on past implementations (e.g., cloud computing is timesharing done right).


The questions to you -- the enterprise software user -- are:


  • Did innovation in enterprise software dry up in the last decade?
  • What do you have today that you did not have in 1999?
  • What do you not have that you thought you would have by now?


In other words, what was innovative about the naught (or aught, if you are not a purist) decade of the 21st century when it comes to enterprise software? Let's make a list and see how it stacks up against the 20th century's seventies, eighties and nineties.

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May 24, 2009 8:00 AM Radhika Subramanian Radhika Subramanian  says:

This statement is as silly as saying - there are no more galaxies to be found!

Innovation happens when it appears that the dust has settled.  And VC's are the worst at knowing what to expect. They are lemmings who jump as soon as as the innovation begins!

DO NOT look at VC's as a barometer of innovation. That is like driving looking backwards.... way backwards.

May 28, 2009 7:30 AM Stephen Stephen  says: in response to Radhika Subramanian

I don't think innovation is dead, it may be paused or as the author puts it, stifled, but I think we are in an era of the calm before the storm. The big challenge that the existing vendors are grappling with is that they have created their own complexity, if anyone such as myself has delved into the belly of these enterprise beasts, you will find a quadmire of non-standards related spaghetti. Working through this will be the challenge to allow innovation to be applied to the existing offerings. And good luck to the vendors who have promised simplicity but have delivered anything but !


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