Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

Summary: Jobs defined excellence. Can enterprise development follow?

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TOPICS: CXO, Apple, IT Employment
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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

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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19 comments
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  • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

    i think he is perfect man.
    newgirls
  • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

    There are more people that dislike Apple than like it. This could be pricing, product or politics but it is fact nonetheless.

    In short, there are companies appealing to the masses much better than Apple so what is to learn?
    slickjim
    • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

      @Peter Perry Your irrational hatred has truly blinded you. There is no single company that has contributed more to the Tech Industry than Apple. Like Apple and Steve Job, or not, many can at least acknowledge the contribution to the industry.
      Rick_Kl
      • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

        @Rick_Kl,<br>"There is no single company that has contributed more to the Tech Industry than Apple."<br>I'm not sure about this line from your post. Maybe Apple has made the biggest contribution to the mobile phones and tablets markets, but the same cannot be said when you include enterprise needs. For example, how good is doing Apple vs Microsoft or companies like Red Hat on servers, collaboration, database, virtualization or enterprise management? How good is doing Mac OS vs Windows on the enterprise? Have you notice that on every quarterly report there is no mention of their server offerings? It's clear Apple focus is not the enterprise. I hope they start to change that way of thinking and start to offer business and enterprise products. Let's see how it goes...
        dvm
      • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

        @Rick_Kl
        I'll agree that Apple made some tremendous contributions to the tech industry, but to say "There is no single company that has contributed more to the Tech Industry than Apple" is an exaggeration. I'll name just one that has contributed much more: Xerox PARC.
        mheartwood
  • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

    http://mcaf.ee/y5b3c
    linmmcc
  • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

    Sadly I believe that enterprise has not learned. They are still using the broken Microsoft model of telling the customer what they will accept.
    Rick_Kl
    • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

      @Rick_Kl
      In reference to your reply to @Peter Perry, you are just Pot calling Kettle Black. Good Day. :D
      Ram U
      • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

        @Rama.NET - agreed. I use Macs, but having a technical background, there is not much that is innovation, and one of the main reasons I migrated was because it was the only *nix distro that Adobe supported. (OS X runs on FreeBSD with bits of NeXT added. It's good, but BeOS was better... http://lowendmac.com/backnforth/010416.html )

        <b>And, @Rick_Kl - </b>

        Here is another Jobs principle:

        "Principle Six: Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world but if you can???t communicate your ideas, it doesn???t matter. Steve Jobs was the world???s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation. Thank goodness YouTube has captured all of his presentations. Don???t give another presentation without watching Steve Jobs introduce the iPhone in 2007. You???ll never give a presentation the same way again."

        Like I said. Marketing. That's all it's truly about.
        HypnoToad72
    • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

      @Rick_Kl 0 ironic. Jobs too was a marketer and told people what they wanted to hear.

      http://www.slideshare.net/GoToWebinar/innovate-the-steve-jobs-way-7-principles
      Skip to and read slide 4 - the level of pandering is vulgar. In fact, I'll type out his words, verbatim:

      "Principle Seven: Sell dreams, not products. Steve Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. In 1997, when Apple was close to bankruptcy, Steve Jobs said he would reduce the number of products Apple sold to satisfy the needs of their core customers. At the time, he said, ???some people think you???ve got to be crazy to buy a mac, but in that craziness we genius and those are the people we???re making tools for.??? Your customers don???t care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Steve jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you???ll win them over."

      Granted, their core customers were in graphic design back then, but they aren't as much so these days... but I digress.

      It's all marketing 101, with a dollop of psychology. Make your potential customer feel all warm and fuzzy... and wanted, since it's their money you want. It is all about the image and marketing. Perception. Real innovation would be up to people like Jean Louis-Gass??e, who created the wondefulness of BeOS, or Jay Miner. Pity their companies' marketing teams weren't as successful, but in terms of raw innovation they were far better.

      But it is schmaltzy and patronizing to be told what we are, just to make a buck. I can think for myself, anyone should be able to think for themselves, and if that's thinking differently, so be it. The herd principle is for horses being turned into dog food. Or the workers at Foxconn, if anybody's read up on their practices - which Apple has no plans on separating from, which too speaks volumes: http://www.circuitsassembly.com/cms/news/11599-foxconn-no-change-to-apple-relationship
      HypnoToad72
    • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

      @Rick_Kl BS - the MS model garnered users from other products by providing features that they asked for - too many features in a lot of cases, which is where Apple excelled in consolidating and streamlining features - both MS and Apple are guilty of telling users what they will get.
      devils_advocate
  • Nothing...

    ...that can't be unlearned.
    I guess IT industry jobs are safe after all.
    McDaveH
  • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

    http://mcaf.ee/y5b3c
    linmmcc
  • Nope - the Apple Model Does Not Fit

    While a lot of this looks good, sounds good, may even be good, this does not fit into the ROI model enterprise sites are locked into.
    I have worked for several, have consulted for several others; they all have the same issue:
    Their IT plan scales years including upgrades, updates and migrations.
    This does not fit into an Apple model.
    Be nice but the COI does not pay back. Especially as most use significant custom software that do not migrate well.

    Learn no.
    Wish, maybe.
    rhonin
  • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

    No - IT still delivers in a military fashion - but iPhones and iPads are undermining that and the cloud is pulling the rug out from under IT. IT has continued to focus on controlling machines and systems, while Apple and cloud vendors have focused on providing value from "Information Technology" and - gosh - information! As Marc Benioff noted, we are in the midst of "IT Spring."
    devils_advocate
  • Good enough is not good enough

    From a user experience perspective, Jobs taught us that good enough is not good enough. Compare iOS to Android and there is an appreciable yet subtle difference in the feel of the two systems as you create inputs and receive feedback. The amount of lift necessary to open and close the lid of a MacBook. The presentation when you first open the packaging of any Apple device and start it for the first time. Imagine if everything in enterprise was designed with that level of attention to detail and customer service acted more like a Genius Bar.
    Steve Elmore
  • Did Jobs and Apple Learn Enough from Enterprise?

    I laugh when I think back to the last time I tried to find out if Office for Mac 2008 could do read receipts. Of course, it wouldn't, but most entertaining was the response I received from Apple's support when I asked for it. They would say to me "No one pays attention to those anyway" or "What do you need that for?"

    Instead of finding out why it is important for enterprise, they tried to do what worked for them in the consumer application; just trust us, we know what you want and need. Just fall in line and you will be happy.

    Apple and OS X could have many times the share they have today if they would have just listened to a few things. Not everything, but attempted to understand.

    I am a monster Jobs fan and Apple products user; however, asking what enterprise learned from Jobs is a really dumb question. He didn't learn nearly enough from enterprise to be to them all he could have been.
    dcristof
    • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

      @dcristof why would Apple support respond about a Microsoft product? Office for Mac is not made by Apple. The lack of understanding wasn't theirs.
      woot!
  • RE: Did enterprise learn anything from Steve Jobs?

    So, campers, after all the well-reasoned discussion above, has anyone changed his/her mind on the subject?

    "If nothing I could say would change your mind, then we are arguing religion."
    Biotechguy