Singin' springtime for enterprise at Dreamforce

Singin' springtime for enterprise at Dreamforce

Summary: Democratization of IT is turning angry and will bring down enterprise leaders. Just be careful what you wish for.

TOPICS: CXO, Browser

I've been pondering my take on this whole 'enterprise spring' meme that CEO Marc Benioff was pushing at Dreamforce [disclosure: is a client and funded my accommodation to be at Dreamforce]. Can we really compare the popular uprisings in the Arab world to the way enterprise users feel about their business systems? Is it over-the-top to compare the likes of SAP and Oracle to dictators like Mubarak and Gaddafi? Then I suddenly remembered that I wrote my thoughts on this almost exactly two years ago in a post titled, The democratization of IT:

"If the media barons of Web 1.0 had had their way, users would have sat in their walled gardens and meekly consumed whatever Yahoo, AOL and the rest saw fit to distribute. Instead, users seized control, told each other what they thought of online content and started generating their own blogs, videos and commentary. Web 2.0 was a grassroots revolution, not consumerization but democratization, and that is the trend that is now transforming IT ... you could easily see Web 2.0 and associated moves to democratize computing as IT's Velvet Revolution — the moment when the people take over."

Evidently, I do agree that we are seeing a shift in the balance of power in relation to enterprise IT, one that feels rather like a popular uprising. It shares a common thread with current events in society at large, not only the downfall of Arab dictators, but also the debasement of News International, the summer outbreak of rioting on London's streets and the hacking and release of confidential material by Wikileaks and Anonymous. Technology has made it easier than ever for anyone to publish, communicate and organise, undermining the stability of long-established power structures. In the corporate world, consumers, pressure groups and other stakeholders are asserting themselves and will force unexpected, rude awakenings on unprepared enterprise leaders. In these angry times, the dénouement will not be velvet.

Even so, there seemed a danger at Dreamforce that the analogies would stray into bad taste territory, making light of tragic events. There was a risk of hubris too, in predicting the misfortunes of others. I thought of the musical from Mel Brookes' film The Producers, with its tale of unintended consequences, and in my mind the lyric mutated into 'Springtime for Enterprise'. The moral is, be careful what you wish for.

See also: The promise and challenges of Benioff's social enterprise vision

Topics: CXO, Browser

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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  • Dreamforce started out being very much alike...

    ...alike Fujitsu's Mind'sEye in last 2010-2011 when they were developing GSC's Giant Super Computers. Now, IBM and HP have also gotten their foot in the door, so it is two times as more likely for them to reach the level of Japan's G8 Accelerator Machine (ie: the Mind'sEye or Mindseye) . Does this mean that Dreamforce, which had always been under development even before the Rat Trap and the Jeopardy were built. Dreamforce is not a supercomputer, but in all correction, it is a life-force enterprise that is supposed to emulate the look and feel of a SCM (Super Computer Mainframe) . Thus, why no mention of the crux in all of this, how is this going to be the crux for SCMs?
  • RE: Singin' springtime for enterprise at Dreamforce

    Loved your post! It was great to see you at Dreamforce.
    Just mentioned you in a post I put up today--setting the way back machine!
    Laurie McCabe
  • RE: Singin' springtime for enterprise at Dreamforce

    Comprehensive Six (6) Posts Report on Web Conferencing Usage by SME (Small Medium Enterprises) from ConferBlogs.WordPress.Com