In the last couple of weeks I have written about the how the lines between traditional enterprise software and external consumer social networking sites are blurring, and theorized that companies and systems that embrace this new reality would be in the best position for future success.
Not everyone agreed with me of course.
Yesterday I caught a news release from enterprise software company Sage Software, announcing a strategic partnership between Sage, primarily an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution provider for mid-market organizations, and Netvibes, a classic Web 2.0 provider of consumer focused tools for creating personal information dashboards.
From the text of the release
Joint development has already begun on new personal workspace dashboard technologies that will bridge the gap between professional enterprise tools and personal Web 2.0 applications and content, enabling the workforce to seamlessly manage both on a personal, individual level from any web capable device.
This functionality is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2010, included in Sage's ERP X3 solution. While the press release does not specifically mention it, it does seem likely that these new Netvibes powered personal dashboard capabilities would extend to the Sage Abra HRMS solution, very popular with medium size organizations.
Why would an established vendor of ERP and other solutions strike such a partnership with a pure Web 2.0 consumer oriented service?
Probably some or all of the following reasons:
1. Traditional enterprise software is not easy to actually use
2. In mid-size and large companies, enterprise systems are necessarily complex to adequately support dozens, if not hundreds of business processes, but in reality most users only interact with a tiny portion of the system's capabilities.
3. While some elements of role-based, or individual personalization to enterprise software are possible, most users find it too complex to enable themselves, and many abandon the effort.
4. Customers of ERP and other enterprise solutions are demanding support for increased integration with external content from traditional consumer oriented services.
5. Since big, enterprise tools are almost always designed and built around processes, popular Web 2.0 consumer applications are built around people, and the best ones quickly adapt to how users want to interact with the technology. Merging the two types of systems and approaches, while not easy, could result in a compelling combination in the marketplace.
Whatever the specific reason Sage had in mind, it is a clear signal that usability, a personalized experience, and more integration and connection with disparate (even external) data sources will become much more common in enterprise systems.
People simply enjoy using services like Netvibes.
When was the last time you said that about your HRIS or ERP system?