Enterprise software

September 8th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

I was going to blog this when it was first published, but then I decided not to, but now I changed my mind again, so here it is: Memo to kid coders: Enterprise software exists.

Google, Facebook, and a rising generation of consumer-facing startups get the media buzz, to the point that young developers have neither an interest in enterprise software nor an appreciation for the challenges it has long sought to solve – but could this be a good thing?

This generational shift hit home while having lunch with my 20-something developer colleagues this week. I mentioned BEA Systems and got blank looks all around. I persisted, “You know, the app server company???” Vacant expressions. “Java?!? You’ve heard of that, right!?”

He goes on to say that eventually some of these kids who have cut their teeth on consumer-facing applications will move into enterprise software, and that can only make the latter better. I suspect he’s right.

One of the articles linked there is worth reading in its own right: Why Do Enterprise Applications Suck? Particularly the first reason given:

1. The[y] serve their corporate overlords, not their users.

This is simple. Corporate systems are built according to what analysts believe will make the company more efficient. Unfortunately, this too often falls prey to penny-wise-pound-foolish decisions that micro-optimize costs while suboptimizing the overall value stream. Optimizing one person’s job with a system that creates more work for a number of other people doesn’t do any good for the company as a whole.

One of the advantages we’ve had developing in-house was the close collaboration possible between developers and the people actually using the applications. Unfortunately, the end users in the enterprise situation are rarely the people who pay for the software, either purchased or developed in-house.

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