Selling into the Enterprise is still a big business. I attended the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston this week. Besides the excellent booze and hors devours (I consider all free booze excellent) I came away with three lessons.
Customers or the C level executives that ultimately foot the bill for a product/service need to see their return on investment quickly. Amy Vickers, VP of Global Enterprise Solutions at Razorfish says that they expect to see signs of progress within 6 months. The better the product/service can provide them that information, the easier it is for the implementers to justify the project.
The key to success is in integrating a variety of technologies to meet business objectives according to Laurie Buczek, Social Computing Program manager at Intel. The days of closed, all encompassing solutions, are limited. There are many, many enterprise software solutions out in the market. Companies have adopted a variety of them. It takes a significant amount of work to put information into those systems and to get employees to use them. A better product is not going to displace something that works. This point was re-affirmed by talking to some other attendees at the show. Companies want interoperability between software packages. It’s a strong message to enterprise vendors that is best surmised by one of the panelists, “co-exist or fail.”
Stand out. A lot of the demos looked the same. They have what looked like a CSS styled dashboard with news feeds, social media and wikis. One company, caught my eye: Artus Labs. They focus on life science. Yeah, they have collaboration features like everyone else but what the others don’t have is the ability to search through molecular chain drawings. Very cool. Everyone else’s demo has static text next to some sort of instant messenger. Artus Labs in contrast has beautiful molecular compounds drifing across their screens. I had a chance to talk to their Founder and CEO Robin Smith. He’s been around the block and knows what he’s doing. Enterprise 2.0. Good stuff.