Even if these challengers seem like gnats to the SAPs and OracleSofts of the world, they should mind that buzz. Just like Basecamp and Writely versus to the MicroSoft dynasty, the threat looms small right now.
Still, these threats grow over time. Remember that one year ago, Firefox was barely a blip on the IE radar, now it's at least a fearsome wasp. The OS market has proven somewhat harder to crack, though Linux and Mac both have made inroads lately, though for different reasons.
These markets share the same trend - lowering barriers to entry. For a long while, the only choice for an enterprise would be suites of enterprise software and personal machines running the MicroSoft suite. Especially in the enterprise world, the products have not been built to enable users to actually get their work done, rather features and capabilities are created to satisfy the corporate purchasing managers.
To those who have to use and support this software, the situation looks like this:
- Too many features
- Hard to use
- Harder to support
- Difficult and resource-intensive to alter/add features*
- Give user just what they need
- Easy to use
- Easy to support - right now mostly hosted, but there is no reason that they can't be installed (Google Search Appliance, anyone?).
- Simple to customize/add features*
Because our business model was broken, our methods of waging war were inadequate, and the enemy was out-adapting us.He goes on to discuss that the Armed Forces are trying new ways to solve some of the same challenges that many organizations face: new operational tactics, managing information and communication, navigating organizational hierarchies, and dealing with an entrenched and sometimes rigid organizational structures.
In this case, it looks like government is recognizing its vulnerability before the private sector.
Organizations of all sizes are going to have to learn how to adapt and change more quickly. As the infoglut continues, new packaging and splashier marketing campaigns will have less and less effect on the success of products and services.
Senior managers must put decision-making power and information into the hands of the line-level employees and encourage two-way communication at all levels, or a more nimble, savvy competitor will take advantage of their vulnerability. Maybe the carnage won't be as gruesome as Commander Glaros' new approaches are designed to avoid, but it will be ugly.
The thing that bugs me is that all the drama is unnecessary. The tussles would be more interesting if all the players were nimble and clever.
* Salesforce.com provides a special development platform, and I believe that Rearden is planning on offering the same at some point in the near future. Peter also talks about how Adaptive Path and Seed Magazine have modified Moveable Type as an alternative to traditional CMS platforms. Pretty powerful stuff.