Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

Summary:Jobs defined excellence. Can enterprise development follow?

As an enterprisey person Steve Jobs and Apple are the antithesis of what I (usually) know. Like Jason Perlow, I found it hard to retrofit what Jobs/Apple stands for into enterprise land. Like Perlow, I have mellowed, in part because my house is stuffed full of Apple kit that 'just works' but more because Jude, my long suffering technophobe wife, understood 'Mac' in 30 seconds flat while I always had a fear of introducing her to Windows.

But much more than that...Apple/Jobs have stood for 'customer experience first,' something that has been sorely lacking in the enterprise space and which is only just being recognised by the SaaS/cloud players. Check out Workday's UI.

Too often I hear SAP (for example) developers talking about risk mitigation in front of what works best for users. It's painful. It is stated in terms of GRC, acting for government and large, regulated business. I often wonder whether it's an excuse to do better.

On the other hand I hear friends like Vinnie Mirchandani eulogizing Apple's supply chain as an exemplar of what can be achieved. SAP claims credit for running that stuff. In truth it is but a tiny fraction and even then Apple won't allow SAP to say just how much. As for SAP, it can't seem to figure out what an appstore looks like. Go figure.

So...can Jobs' legacy tell us that much about the future of enterprise apps? My answer is an unequivocal 'yes.' It's not just about UI, nor functional completeness. It's about making hard choices where the user is front and center but without sacrificing the benefit of process integration. Except that no-one - and I include all major software developers - have figured out how you cross fertilize the two sets of apparently competing needs.

Even now, some of the so-called advanced SaaS/cloud solutions are little more than lipstick on a pig, a reworking of an old model that deliver little more than incremental value.  On the other hand I know of a slew of apps that really do challenge the status quo. Most of those are centered upon delivering real time analytics in new and novel ways, Will they survive the antibodies that try keep the old guard at bay? Who can know?

All I can say is that Jobs showed us the power of conviction, the value of delighting customers...anything else in this age has to fail.

Topics: CXO, Apple, IT Employment

About

Dennis Howlett has been providing comment and analysis on enterprise software since 1991 in a variety of European trade and professional journals including CFO Magazine, The Economist and Information Week. Today, apart from being a full time blogger on innovation for professional services organisations, he is a founding member of Enterpri... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.