Is commercial software dead?

Is commercial software dead? Of course not. While ENIAC shown above is dead, it’s offspring (mainframes) aren’t dead either…but computing and commercial software have both grown dramatically over the years.

What’s interesting, however, is how the commercial software sector is concerned about open source and all the messiness of Web 2.0 (the main focus of this post), but thought leading I.T. executives are looking toward both for lessons and solutions they can use.

Very good article on CIO Insight entitled, “Are Enterprise Apps on the Way Out?” that asks leaders some very pertinent questions and the answers won’t come as a surprise I’m sure:

  • Finding 1: Improving business processes is the top priority for many IT executives, especially at small and midsize companies.
  • Finding 2: Although process improvement is a priority, the pace of change is moderate.
  • Finding 3: Business process software and services often fail to meet expectations.
  • Finding 4: New integration technologies are starting to displace older enterprise applications.
  • Finding 5: Much more can be done to automate business processes.

I’ve personally been witness to multiple millions of dollars worth of software and services expended on enterprise implementations that took years to come online and were wholly unsatisfying when completed. There is a constant and ongoing march toward eliminating inefficiency and making process more efficient (though governments often get in the way of that happening by changing incentives) which is being manifested right now with the onrush of the internet becoming the platform with Web applications on top.

Web 2.0 (which I include in my tag “FutureWeb”) delivers discrete functionality quickly. Just look at the bazillions of apps that are already out contained in these lists. It’s an impressive volume of solutions that have come to market and are being modified and improved at an amazing rate. Yes they’re messy, many have unknown security models and their ability to scale is anyone’s guess (all of which is of great concern to most CIO’s), but the fact remains that people inside and outside the enterprise are just using them, somewhat like when people started bringing those Apple II’s with VisiCalc in the back door in 1978 since they couldn’t get mainframe time to crunch numbers.

For more thoughts surrounding this, check out articles here, here (and a rebuttal) and here as well as poke around Dion Hinchcliffe’s journal and ZDNet blog.

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