Remember, in technology, the best solution isn't always the market leading solution. The same may be true for PaaS ecosystems, too. There probably won't be a single "industry standard" for PaaS ecosystems. However, I am willing to bet that the market leaders will undoubtedly introduce products that possess:
- Easy to use tools and applications
- Citizen programmer speed and simplicity
- Low capital requirements to use
- Low barriers to entry
- Fair (not necessarily cheap) economics
- Some policing of the membership and solutions offered
- High velocity growth
- Lots of user content, reviews, rankings, ratings, interaction
- A reason for users to treat this as a destination
Furthermore, the new market leaders will be ones that:
- move quickly in creating their ecosystems
- shift from thinking entirely in terms of applications and application functionality and develop a mindset and finesse around creating an ecosystem
- fuel the virtuous cycle around their ecosystems to create market power and market momentum
- learn from non-ERP ecosystem pioneers like Apple and Facebook
What should ERP apps vendors do now? It's a lot. Every ERP executuve committee should be pondering the following now:
- Should we go with NetSuite's, salesforce.com's or another PaaS? or should we roll our own?
- Is it too late to roll our own PaaS?
- Are we prepared for the culture and other changes that PaaS and PaaS ecosystems will place on our software firm? Issues such as:
- Sales compensation issues (e.g., who gets the commission when a channel partner sells your product?)
- Channel conflict
- Non-linear growth
- Can we make channel ecosystem developement a core competency?
- Do we need a new business model?
- Do we understand the new economics in an ecosystem world?
- How much hyper-growth can our cash support?
- Can we get more revenue from royalties, tolls and commissions than from original app licenses/subscriptions
- Have we done enough planning to scale well?
- Are we prepared to transform not just evolve?
- Can we make Marketing (especially into all new areas and to channel ecosystem constituents) a new core competency?
- Do we know how to recruit an all new kind of channel partner? (How does an old school ERP vendor recruit a 2-3 person code developer groups in Malaysia to create apps for their ecosystem? How do they even find them?)
- Are we ready to really understand how customers will use the ecosystem? If you don't really know much about how they use your apps today, how will you get this right?
- And, finally, are you ready to focus on customers to come - not just the existing ones?
The Platform age is upon the ERP space. How these vendors fare depends on how well they adapt. This should be interesting....