The death of M
Most of the enterprise application markets to date have a three-letter acronym that ends in M – for management.
HCM – human capital management
SCM – supply-chain management
CRM – customer relationship management
EFM (or just FM) – enterprise financial management
There’s a good reason all these apps end in M: Who uses (and buys) these applications?
All of these applications solve difficult problems for managers – from getting the revenue forecast right, to getting the taxes right on every paycheck every week, to tracking hundreds of millions of physical items through the manufacturing process. And watching every penny so the quarterly reports are accurate (or else a manager could, literally, go to jail).
But several new technologies are now creating an opportunity for a new category of enterprise applications focused on the problems faced by actual line employees – not managers.
Yesware is a new application that allows salespeople to become more effective at using email, perhaps the most important tool they have. It helps the salesperson manage email templates and measure which emails are the most effective.
Clearslide has taken off by providing salespeople with better tools for giving – and, again, measuring the effectiveness – of their presentations.
Selligy – our product – is a mobile application focused on helping salespeople prepare for, arrive on time at, dial into, and measure the results of their flow of customer meetings.
What makes these applications different from the classic management applications?
The user is the buyer – and gets immediate value. These apps provide value by solving the problems of the individual employee – rather than the management of the entire enterprise. The rise of App Stores — from the iOS App Store to the Chrome Store to Salesforce.com’s AppExchange — allows individual users to be the buyer — and thus makes it possible to write applications primarily focused on end-user value.
Enabling the quantified enterprise life. These apps integrate directly into the end user’s tools. This gives the end user fantastic new levels of data – on par with personal fitness app data. Rather than track how far you’ve run, these apps track how effective your day-to-day tasks are. All of this helps the end user be better at his or her job.
Something for the boss as well. This new activity data will also be a goldmine to managers as well. It will act as a new feedback system about how they, too, can help the line employee do a better job.
Plays well with others. One of the marks of the traditional applications is that they “own the space,” generally replacing their predecessors. Having a single, central system is critical to providing managers with a unified dashboard. But these new tools deliver value directly to the end user, integrating well with (not necessarily replacing) existing systems.
So, these applications concentrate on making enterprise users more effective, rather than making the enterprise as a whole more manageable.
Of course, while they have a terrible reputation for usability, enterprise application companies do care about usability and end users. But, ultimately, when you sell a management application to managers, the management features become mandatory and the usability features become optional.
We’re excited at Selligy to be able to turn this on its head: for Selligy, delighting the end user is mandatory, everything else is optional. If you’re interested in what this looks like, check out our product video.
What will this new category of enterprise application be called? I’ll write more about this in future posts. But here are some possibilities:
- Enterprise Effectiveness Applications
- Personal Enterprise Apps
- Employee Effectiveness Apps
- Personal Enterprise Effectiveness Apps
What I do know is that – whatever the name is – it doesn’t end in M. The managers have their applications now. It’s time for technology to help the rest of the enterprise.
Chris van Löben Sels