Will Marriage Of Business, Consumer Software Be A Happy One?
By Deborah Gage
Corporate software has been notoriously cumbersome compared to consumer software, as anyone who uses Facebook and then goes to the office knows.
At the Under The Radar conference last week at Microsoft Corp. in Silicon Valley, the founders of several new companies said their software could make work life more pleasant and productive, both for employees and their corporate IT departments.
Every rule that applies to business software is being reinvented, several founders said, from the way the software is designed to the way it’s distributed to the way it’s managed.
Rather than going through complicated corporate procurement, for instance, individual software developers are finding tools in the wild and pushing their companies to adopt them.
Developers, in turn, are listening more closely to corporate customers, by putting out early, private releases of their software and letting customers suggest features – the more customers that suggest the same feature, the more likely it is to be adopted.
SalesCrunch – which has raised money from First Round Capital, Accel Partners, Nextview Ventures and several angel investors — has created a Web conferencing-like platform for corporate salespeople that it says is easier to use than older software from companies like Microsoft and Salesforce.com Inc.
Each user has a picture and a Facebook-like profile with a “Call Me” button at the top, and they can use the software to track meetings, presentations and e-mails related to their projects.
You still have to pay attention during the meetings, though – if you’re surfing the Web or checking your e-mail, the software detects it, and the border around your picture goes from green to red within the app, making it visible to other people on your team.
Sometimes new Web software is brought into companies by employees — who find it, click on it and start using it for business purposes — and that can create issues for companies and developers alike. Conference participant Chris Morace, senior VP of business development for Jive Software presented the kind of thorny scenario that can result, for both developers and enterprises alike: If a developer’s software has infiltrated a company in this way, should the developer tell the company’s CIO that employees are using it and then try to sell the CIO upgrades? Or should the developer sell the software to the company first, before it gets into the company via employees, on the grounds that if the CIO finds out about the software and doesn’t want it, it might get ripped out?
Still, everyone agreed that changes in business software are welcome. “Normally the best product doesn’t always win in the enterprise,” said Kris Muller of Salesforce.com Inc.’s social networking tool Chatter. “That’s starting to change, and it’s a good change.”
(original article in full may be found here)