At the beginning of this century in year 2000, the average enterprise worker was using technology at least on par with anything else available elsewhere. By 2010, consumer technology had surpassed enterprise technology and products in just about every conceivable way. Google empowered every consumer to access information faster, cheaper while Facebook delivered a worldwide platform capable of handling a Billion users with few tens of milliseconds of latency, composite apps, and capable of ingesting tens of terabytes of new data every day. iPhones, Android, and iPads brought mobility to media, web, and apps while Twitter was on its way to becoming the messagebus of the world. Consumers could store and sync across devices and locations with Dropbox or Box, or stream movies on demand direct to most screens with Netflix. It is clear that 2000-2010 was the decade of consumer computing.
Looking forward to the next ten years, there is increasing excitement about the Enterprise market in silicon valley. I think we have seen waves of innovation form and deliver change in enterprise: the first big wave was the introduction of computing, the second was the Internet, and the third is a combination of cloud, big-data, and mobility.
There are some clear reasons for this enthusiasm:
First, for about a decade and a half, technology startups have tried to sell solutions that can be broadly classified as either faster, cheaper, or more efficient. Touting ‘lower TCO’ or ‘lower opex’, these products aimed to save money for their customers but never really enabled new products or revenue for their customers. Today, for the first time since the arrival of Internet as a business reality, startups are creating products for the enterprise that enable the enterprise to create new lines of business and new revenue in addition to being faster/cheaper. This is particularly true in Enterprise Infrastructure where consumer platforms have already demonstrated scale, ability, and innovation never seen in enterprise products. Today, there is no reason why the technology stack in use at Twitter or Facebook should not be leveraged for GE or Walmart or the next 5000 enterprise IT operations – not merely to save them money, rather to enable new lines of business and revenue so that they can compete against new online businesses.
Second, software-as-a-service is now the dominant mode of delivery of most new applications for enterprise. While enterprise CIOs are changing over to this service-driven app consumption model, they are also facing a simultaneous change across all their resource layers – Computation, Storage , and Networking. Amazon and to some extent Google have proven you can leverage resources available anywhere (Cloud) across the Internet for your business operations whether you are a startup or the largest enterprise on the planet. This dual change presents most enterprises with perhaps the most complex challenge since the arrival of desktop computers for their workforce. Solving this challenge will create large and long lasting opportunities for many startups and established vendors (IBM) alike. As if this challenge wasn’t enough, mobility is now a potential standard feature across all applications and requires deep changes to presentation, logic, and database layers. Startups targeting this particular field must remember that the “S” in SDN or SDDC must stand for “service”, not software.
And finally, the ability to manipulate, transform, and store unprecedented amounts of data (Big Data) for enterprise enables them to derive real-time intelligence and actionable information for their customers, partners, and suppliers. This Data-Intelligence segment alone has the potential to create a market as momentous as the Enterprise Software market that began with the founding of Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung (“System Analysis and Program Development“) in 1972, Software Development Labs in 1977 and Gupta Software in 1984.
Taken together, these innovations promise to deliver productivity gains that will rival those delivered by the first two waves (computing, Internet) in the enterprise. Such productivity boost, coupled with new business capabilities has the potential to increase revenue and boost profit margins for enterprise customers that can leverage these advances. This is the beginning of a great new enterprise market for startups.
It is time to build the future of enterprise – starting now.