A decade and a half ago, if my 5yr-old-self had any financial sense in her, she would’ve bet all her piggy bank savings (around 10¢ and a few buttons) on the software industry, more specifically, enterprise systems industry. I mean, why not? It seemed like this wave every investor wanted to surf. It automated a lot of business procedures. And at that time anything that reduced the burden significantly was worshipped.
The growth of enterprise software over this period has been phenomenal. But was it good enough to retain (if not expand) the customer base? Enterprise software is like bazookas. Heavy impact. But it needs someone to load it and point it in the right direction. Ergo, it needs a well-trained soldier. A bazooka in the hands of an untrained man is almost as good as a chimp with a stick. So, as time lapsed, Enterprise systems evolved. But the evolution was not good enough.
Enterprise software typically acted like a digitalized book of records. But organisations started wanting more – advice. Enterprise Systems are full of workflows and data but lack in insights. They don’t make the user a better accountant or a better email marketer. Organisations, though seemingly successful, lack knowledge when it comes to something like sending follow-ups to Emails. Seems like an easy task, right? Only, it isn’t. A lot goes into sending the perfect email and follow-ups to it, like the question of time zones, normal day hours, basic human behavioural idiosyncrasies, etc.
A CRM software quintessentially allows you to set reminders for follow-ups or any task. But companies wanted something like “Hey I noticed that you moved Acme Inc. as a 90% probable closure but all I see is negative news about them on Twitter about their recent hostile takeover. Do you want to re-assess probability?”
This is what an experienced sales manager would have told in a review meeting. But what if a software can do that? Can it? “Yes,” say AI aficionados. To read, interpret and inform about sentiments around a company is not a hard problem today.
It’s such insights that enterprise systems have to carry to be able to win the attention and trust of the enterprise users in the near future. Workflows and data are good but not enough. Collecting data and metrics, though tedious, isn’t a herculean task. Generating insights is the difficult part. It is good to know the open rate, bounce rate, etc. of your emails. But without the ‘why’ behind them, the metrics are almost useless.
The perfect enterprise system should have a mind of its own. Not the mind that slowly turns corrupt and takes over the world, like Ultron or Skynet. I’m talking about the wise ones like Jarvis and C3PO.
The perfect Enterprise software should be able to form a Tsaheylu with the organisation. (For the non-James-Cameron fans, Tsaheylu is the neural connection formed between 2 creatures of Pandora, the one with the weird hair interlocking). Too many references, I know. The point is that the right Enterprise system should be able to fit seamlessly into the decision-making process of the enterprise – by moving from being the fly on the wall to that of being the oracle that gives wisdom. There is a long march ahead to get there.
So, how long before we get to that point?
Enterprise has data. Companies like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have done well to form the networks. Intelligence companies like PipeCandy, Conversica, 6Sense and much more have made intelligence actionable.
So, the iPhone moment for the enterprise systems won’t be one moment but a series of moments each defined by a legacy data / analytics /workflow system replaced by a modern, data powered thinking system that ‘tells’ what to do.