CeBIT 2010: Is enterprise software dead?

Cloud computing and consumer style systems are the way of the future, say CeBIT speakers.

Enterprise software

It was bad news for enterprise software today, as experts from Adobe and Salesforce.com made the argument for the cloud at CeBIT.

The next 10 years will be remembered as the "decade when enterprise software died", according to Salesforce.com's European president Dr Steve Garnett, saying something "radical" was happening to the business software industry.

He said: "I think you will find, ladies and gentlemen, a radical change in how business applications will be deployed, and the old world of buying and installing business software will dissappear."

And it's no small change. "This shift is more than the shift we saw from mainframe computing."

Like others before him, Garnett said that the consumerisation of IT was driving this shift.

"The days are gone when we used to learn how to use computing from IBM or Microsoft... most people spend an awful lot of their time personally on the web. Most of the next-generation of execs have grown up with the web. They know nothing else," said Garnett.

Garnett said people questioned why it's so easy to shop online, but so "hard and expensive" to run business processes. "It just does not equate."

He said enterprise software is "staggeringly complex, staggeringly expensive and allows very little innovation."

Customer-driven enterprise

Rob Tarkoff, senior vice president for Adobe, agreed that enterprise software needed help.

"Things are going wrong with enterprise software, he said. "These systems are not designed to deal with the problems of the customer driven enterprise."

Tarkoff said it wasn't about "taking enterprise software systems people have for years and throwing them in the garbage," but going the extra last mile and "reaching through the screen and grabbing your customer into a business process, and that's not what enterprise software was developed to do."

"As the promise of the web as an online interaction hub has emerged, people have been unable to make this leap, to jump across and provide as powerful experience on the web as in traditional software," he said. "Why? Because in the online world...you can't dictate standards to the user...they have choice, they have freedom."

He added: "It's up to you to chose the old way or the new way, the system centric approach, or the user centric approach. People just have to take the leap again, leaving behind the phone centres and the ticket offices and really take advantage of ecommerce technology that's there."

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