I had an experience in the last couple weeks that really had me thinking about this. To generalize it so as not to expose the guilty…I was talking about a new product and before discussing how it worked, how it addressed the problem differently than existing products on the market, or any of the user interaction and workflow I received questions about security. Not real security, but where encrypted packets went. Not authentication, authorization, and reporting…but whether it could be installed on-prem. I was a little punchy in my response, I admit, it made me angry.
We make the distinction of SMB software vs Enterprise IT software. I hear people say, “That’s a SMB solution, we’re looking for Enterprise solution”. What does that mean?
From what I can tell SMB solutions focus on solving customer problems and Enterprise IT software’s primary focus is something else, scalability, big customer names, big price tags, outside sales teams, on-prem, and security. SMB solutions sell to the departments and people who actually understand their use cases, workflows, compliance and security requirements. Enterprise solutions sell to people who don’t do any of those things or use a proxy group to receive that information second-hand.
A predictable thing happens in every product conversation with Enterprise IT groups. After talking briefly about the problem (during which the people in the room are usually looking down at their screens responding to email or checking Facebook) the teams transitions the conversation from one on user problems, workflows, solving issues to a discussion on security. I don’t think security is a bad thing, however it’s usually misdirected and generalized fear. What I find most concerning is that now outside consultants and vendor sales engineers also now joyfully start every conversation with security as the main topic. This is what set me off a couple weeks ago…we’re becoming Enterprise IT, we’re losing focus of the business problem.
The most rare experience with Enterprise IT today is one where we talk with IT and the end-user population. I’m glad nearly every day that I’m no longer in an Enterprise IT organization. It is the mindset and focus that I see daily that frightens me the most. I sincerely hope Enterprise IT as it exists today fails fast and spectacularly, more users and organizations would benefit from that than not.
Don’t like change? You’ll like irrelevance even less.