May 23, 2013
You like, you hate it, you love it, you loathe it. These seem to be the common conceptions when it comes to enterprise software. Despite all the praise enterprise software has garnered, Glider takes a look at “Why Enterprise Software Sucks: 6 years Later,” a retrospect on an article from 2007.
Back in 2007, enterprise software’s biggest problem was the software buyers were not the end users. The buyers just needed to fulfill the requirements and a good user experience was optional. Fast forward to the present day, things are better…somewhat. Users are able to cut out the middleman and buy their own product as well as more user-friendly software. Companies are still facing slow adoption of the better product. Why? They are running off legacy systems and are afraid to touch them in case it should fail. Then there is the trust factor, companies hear about next technology, but are reluctant to try it. Once the crowd migrates over, so will everyone else.
Does enterprise software have a future? Yes, it does:
“The world at large is quickly growing accustomed to consumer internet (and mobile) applications. Everybody in the world is on Facebook. The average person has over 50 apps on their phone. It’s just a matter of time until they expect the same quality in the tools they use at work. The consumerization of enterprise will only grow stronger. The same can be said for bottom-up adoption.”
Enterprise is wanted, the mentality of the users just has to change to adopt it. If enterprise is “back,” are there lessons in this article for vendors of search, content processing and analytics systems aka the Big Data crowd? Or have they already learned from where enterprise software failed in the past?
Whitney Grace, May 23, 2013
May 16, 2013
The enterprise search show ended today, May 16. The presentations, except the one by Stephen E Arnold, were scintillating, thought provoking, and solid evidence that enterprise search is the crown jewel of enterprise software systems. Forget the grousing about Fast Search & Transfer, Autonomy, and the millions upon millions poured into outfits trying to generate a profit by licensing software which makes it easy to locate a needed document using a traditional personal computer, a laptop, or a notebook computer. Mobile phones and tablets are, alas, not yet the camels inside the enterprise search tent.
I learned about the importance of knowing what users want. I learned about providing users with systems which auto suggest, display relevant links, and eliminate the annoying task of reading a document to determine if it has useful information for the user.
Progress never stops. I would point out that Stephen E Arnold’s slide showing that precision and recall were making incremental progress over a decade. The flat line was in sharp contrast to his utterly fantastic suggestion that the complexity of modern search systems and their costs were increasing. One Scandinavian business development professional said to Mr. Arnold, “So you think the costs of search are going up like that, like the take off of the jet plane.”
Mr. Arnold, I overheard, said, “Yep, especially when the systems don’t work as advertised, require expensive unbudgeted investments, and produce more complaints than changing the health care dental deductible.” The Scandinavian shook his head in disbelief and wandered off in search of more comforting conversation.
A screen capture from Stephen E Arnold’s anomalous presentation. The cost and complexity curves rise more aggressively than the precision and recall curve. Who needs relevance when modern systems can deliver search without the user’s performing any intellectual effort prior to accepting what a system delivers.
I did come away with three broad thoughts once I cleared my mind of the fog of confusion that Stephen E Arnold’s obfuscation machine delivered.
First, Apple’s and Google’s conferences sell out in a very short time. Perhaps some of those turned away from the Apple and Google events could pick up a few IQ points and simultaneously get the inside dope on the hottest enterprise application — enterprise search? Two enterprise search vendors generated more than $100 million in revenues in the 45 year history of the enterprise search sector’s lifetime. Definitely enterprise search is the go to market. Measured in terms of academics, advisors, and unemployed home economics majors, search is where the action is.
Second, the technology on display was a great refresher for me. I learned about users’ dissatisfaction with search a decade ago. If I understood the presenter, user dissatisfaction is unchanged. About half of those who use an enterprise findability system are not thrilled with the experience. Progress is, it seems, modest. On the other hand, consistency in user opinion helps size the magnitude of the opportunity. I have not attended an enterprise search event for several years. I must admit I don’t think I missed any important developments. The content was, in my opinion, familiar.
Third, the technical bits had to bite and claw to get podium time. The outlier Stephen E Arnold actually used some equations. No other presenter made that mistake. The majority of the presentations focused on management issues. There were variously described as “governance,” “content management,” and planning. For those with an MBA and a love of enterprise search, there are, I concluded, many opportunities for consultants. Several of the folks who sell their expertise pointed out “I am not a technical expert,” “I can’t code,” and my favorite “Enterprise search is just one of the specialties I have.” Ah, billable time for uninformed advice. A career tip.
What’s the future of enterprise search?
One speaker said, “Search is not a good word to use.”
Edward Stephens, Stephen E Arnold’s more intelligent cousin, May 17, 2013
Sponsored by Augmentext
May 13, 2013
TechCrunch ran a story on a new enterprise file sharing tool, Docurated, which launched at Disrupt NY during Startup Battlefield. “Docurated is an Enterprise Service to Search and Collect the Data You Need From Your Files” tells us that this technology moves beyond the file and folder metaphor and focuses on searching for the documents needed and collecting them.
This new enterprise search tool is poised to compete with the likes of Sharepoint and Autonomy in addition to Google Drive in a way. Interestingly, they have integrative capabilities with Dropbox, another potential competitor. A notable difference that the article points to is that Docurated only crawls content to make it searchable but does not actually host any files.
We looked a little further into the technology on their website and learned the following about their positioning:
“While storage boxes in the cloud have created the ability to amass more files, we still have to find and consume what we need when we need to tell our story. Docurated is your go-to destination for all of your content. No more files or folders. It turns all your documents into useable materials for your content dashboards, presentations, meetings, pitches, etc. in PowerPoint or PDF formats. Docurated provides you with the ability to turn every one of your documents into individual pages that are then presented to you based on relevance to your topic search…”
The branding and utmost focus on the user experience signal that Docurated is looking to make a name for itself through bringing the consumerization of enterprise search around to home plate. We will be on the look out to follow how distruptive this technology turns out to be; Coca-Cola and Netflix are both using it already.
Megan Feil, May 13, 2013
May 10, 2013
How can a company become big in social media? Well, it helps to start by be big in general. We learn from eWeek that “IBM Tops Social Business Software Market Four Years in a Row.” The ranking was bestowed by research firm IDC, which also found that the worldwide enterprise social market grew by 25 percent from 2011 to 2012.
It is no surprise that this huge, proven global company is able to reel in the plum social clients. More than 60 of the current Fortune 100 companies rely on IBM’s social solutions, writer Darryl K. Taft tells us, including eight of the top 10 banks and retailers. The article notes:
“As this demand [for enterprise social networking] grows, organizations are looking to introduce social capabilities into all key areas, from marketing and research innovation to sales and human resources. The challenge is that many lack the ability to capture and share the unique insights from each employee and use it to help drive real value to the business. . . .
“At an event in January, Big Blue explained how IBM’s Lotus legacy has evolved into a new company focus on delivering software that helps organizations better collaborate and become more social enterprises. At the IBM Connect 2013 conference in Orlando, Fla., IBM pulled off the transformation from using its Lotus brand to herald its set of technologies that enable enterprise users to better work together and innovate based on that collaborative process.”
So there you go—size equals social. IBM is uniquely positioned to take advantage of any tech trend, and they are to be commended for recognizing the opportunity in enterprise social software (and for leveraging Lotus.) We are not surprised to see the company continue to lead the pack in this segment.
Cynthia Murrell, May 10, 2013
May 9, 2013
New Liferay adapters will be available in Q3 2013 that they hope will bring more affordability to back-end integration. Liferay’s services hinge on the portal model, bringing a marketplace to enterprises where users can choose various enterprise pieces that work together to create a customized solution. Read more about the latest partnership in the CMS Wire article, “Enterprise Portal Liferay Partners with TIBCO Software for Lower Cost Back-End Integration.”
The article touts the merits of such strategic partnerships:
“When two ecosystems get together, the result can be a bigger landscape. This week, enterprise portal vendor Liferay announced a new partnership with infrastructure provider TIBCO Software that is intended to simplify Liferay Portal’s integration with SAP, SharePoint, JD Edwards, Peoplesoft, Lotus Notes, Siebel and other systems. Via the partnership, customers can have a portal-based application that connects through TIBCO’s ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks platform to backend systems.”
Portal integration is important, particularly for this style of service. However, for some smaller organizations, an out-of-the-box solution might be best, particularly for those who are exploring an enterprise search solution for the first time. For these organizations, LucidWorks might be worth exploring. LucidWorks is built on the open source strength of Apache Lucene/Solr and is ready to go out-of-the-box. Specializing in Big Data or traditional enterprise search, LucidWorks’ power is in its award-winning customer service and support.
Emily Rae Aldridge, May 9, 2013
May 7, 2013
Would you guess that enterprise organizations spend more money on hardware or software? The Register tells us that the world spends about twice as much money on enterprise software as it does on data center hardware. The article “The Enterprise Software Gravy Train Stalled in 2012” discusses the fact that software is where IT makes much of its profit so when revenue does not increase as much as in previous years, the entire IT industry is impacted.
IDC has released the numbers for the enterprise software market for 2012 and the growth rate ended up at 3.6 percent.
The article tells us that IDC split the enterprise software space into three parts (applications, infrastructure and virtualization):
“The application segment, at $167.9bn, accounted for 49 per cent of the pie last year and was growing at only 3.3 per cent. Within this segment, customer relationship management and collaboration apps had 7 per cent growth, and various enterprise social apps (which are starting from a very small base) grew revenues by 24.8 per year.”
Only time will tell how how these sectors will continue to evolve. In the meantime, azure chip consultants will continue promulgating some interesting statistics.
Megan Feil, May 07, 2013
April 28, 2013
Is this a fresh angle in the enterprise search game? Gigaom announces, “ManageEngine Hones Enterprise Search for IT Admins.” The key lies in taming the wealth of information IT pros must now deal with every day. Writer Bob Darrow explains:
“Anyone who’s been an IT administrator for a decade or more will tell you of the good old days when there was far too little information about the underlying IT configuration of a given enterprise. Now, the problem is too much information — which can be just as useless unless put into the right context. That’s the issue that ManageEngine said it’s addressing with a new Enterprise Search function for its IT360 IT management software.
“‘There are too many IT consoles, too many vendors — one for network management, one for help desk, one for application performance,’ said Raj Sabhlok, president of ManageEngine’s parent company Zoho. Pity the poor admins who have to piece all that information together to figure out what’s going on, or worse, what went wrong.”
A “Google-like” interface simplifies these challenges, allowing ManageEngine users to search by device name, server type, and so on, and quickly view every relevant instance and associated data. (See the article for a screenshot.) Though this functionality is part of ManageEngine’s overall IT360 on-premises management product, it acts across all relational database backends. It even works, insists Darrow, on competitive management products like SolarWinds. The company is considering offering its Enterprise Search as a standalone package down the road.
Previously known as AdventNet, ManageEngine was founded in 1996. A part of Zoho Corporation, the company is splits its headquarters between Pleasanton, California and Chennai, India. The company’s global roster includes prominent clients like Disney, Sony, and the U.S. Federal Reserve System.
Cynthia Murrell, April 28, 2013
April 25, 2013
Things are changing for everything with the broach of technology and that goes the same for old selling methods. Read Write has some disappointing news for old time sales associates in, “Why The Traditional Sales Methods Can’t Sell Enterprise Software.” The old sales methods rely on the manufacturing process that has made the US a booming economic giant. The classical sales method relies on territories, quotas, and commissions, but enterprise software does not fit into this tidy little model. Why?
Buyers are informed and they want solutions more than a sales pitch and then enterprise software is specifically tailored to fit the client’s needs. No one is buying a generic product anymore, expecting a universal solution. The buying teams cross different company departments and all have to figure out a solution instead of one sole person. Another big factor is that with the Internet, buyers are spread all over the world. Sellers do not know where their next customer will come from. Good-bye, traveling salesman.
“In the new normal, enterprise software buyers increasingly seek solution white-boarding sessions – not sales pitches. Traditional sales models simply can’t cope with the changes, but effective replacements have yet to appear. Until a solution is developed, enterprise software vendors – and buyers – will find themselves under increasing pressure.”
Does this spell more trouble for enterprise search and content processing vendors? Maybe, but since enterprise software is the basis for most companies, adaptation may be hard for the sales team but it will happen.
Whitney Grace, April 25, 2013
April 18, 2013
I read the troubling write up “Q1 Venture Capital Spending And Number Of Deals Down, M&A Activity Drops 44 Percent And Pre-Money Valuations Plummet”. Try as I might, I could not see much good news in the data presented.
The main point of the write up was in my opinion:
Deals in Information Technology (IT), Healthcare, Energy and Utilities, and Industrial Goods all declined, and deals in Business and Financial Services, Consumer Goods, and Consumer Services investment increased from the previous quarter.
For companies in the search, content processing, and analytics sector with a consumer angle, the good news is that money may continue to flow and may, in some cases, spike.
For other types of outfits, money may become more difficult to get. If a funding source is available, my hunch is that investors may be taking increasingly critical looks at the companies ingesting money. How does one age a Type A 35 year old senior manager? My thought is, “Ask for actions that deliver revenue, not marketing puffery.” I am probably off base, but the Techcrunch story suggests that a downward trend may be upon us.
One cannot forget that the investors’ expectation is a return. For companies in the old “search” space, revenues are going to be needed to avoid one of those legendary investor actions: Top management replacement, fire sale, forced merger, intellectual property auction, shut down, or some similar step.
Going forward, search, content processing, and analytics vendors are going to have to generate more revenue. In short, the squeezable days of the last three years may be going away.
Can the search, content processing, and analytics vendors which have taken sums ranging from a few million (BA Insight, Digital Reasoning) to tens of millions (Attivio, Coveo) to hundreds of millions (Palantir) deliver significant top line growth and demonstrate a here-and-now value proposition? One or more of these companies will definitely perform. The ones which do not? Well, that’s what makes search and content processing so darned interesting.
One of my financial clients has asked me to poke around with some numbers and market appetite. No results in hand yet. The project is interesting.
Stephen E Arnold, April 18, 2013
Sponsored by HighGainBlog
March 25, 2013
Right now, as you read this, your company’s data are piling up. Scarier yet, most don’t have a way to structure all that precious information, so it goes to waste. Thankfully, clarity is on the way as we found in a recent Paradigma Labs story, “Unstructured Information Extraction: A Sample Case with a Unitex-Manager.”
The article lays out the problem:
There is a lot of information in today’s companies flowing from one computer to another like e-mails, documents, many kinds of files and, of course, the webs the employees surf through. These electronic documents probably contain part of the core knowledge of the company or, at least, very useful information which besides of being easily readable by humans is unstructured and impossible to be processes automatically using computers. The amount of unstructured information in enterprises is around 80%  to 85%  nowadays, and such a situation is a disadvantage…
This has been an elephant in the room for many preparing to start squeezing help from their data. Unstructured data can derail good intentions by making it impossible to sort out. Thankfully, there are companies with experience in structuring the unstructured and then forming useful analytic insights from this info. One of our favorites is the international firm, Sinequa who boast an incredible two-plus decades in the business.
Patrick Roland, March 25, 2013
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search.