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RealTime IT News

Consumer Tech's Inevitable Move to The Enterprise

SAN MATEO, Calif. - Blogs, RSS feeds, cool mashups  of disparate applications, Web 2.0 . These aren't just buzzwords for the mainstream consumer Web, but technologies making an inevitable march onto corporate desktops.

So said a panel of computer company executives at the Dow Jones-sponsored Web Ventures conference here today.

"I would say that most [Web 2.0] application companies underestimate the demand and money that can be made in the enterprise," said Rob Rueckert, senior investment manager for Intel Capital, the investment arm of the chip giant. "A lot of companies are focused on the advertising model, but enterprise users want these tools because they can make them more productive."

Rueckert conceded corporations have different requirements than consumers. "You have to work through issues like security," said Rueckert. "Take blogging. I've talked to dozens of companies, and they want to blog, but they want it to be firewalled [for internal use] and that takes a little more work."

Jeff Nolan, CEO of Teqlo, said his company is focused on the consumer market, "but enterprise IT customers keep calling." He agreed with Rueckert that making consumer Web apps work for in enterprise requires serious additional tinkering. "IT departments don't like risk. They have security concerns and compliance issues; stuff consumers don't think about."

Nolan said Teqlo is addressing both consumers and the SMB  markets and is planning an enterprise push later next year. Teqlo offers what it calls a "mashup platform for everyone else." Teqlo is designed to let non-technical users create so-called mashups; drag-and-drop components to a Web page and have them automatically communicate with each other. One simple example, a sales leads application is 'mashed' to an online map to create a more visual overview of where to make daily sales calls.

Nolan believes as more consumers get comfortable with the technology, it almost functions like a pre-sale for moving it into the enterprise. "I'd like to be in a position that I don't have to tell a CIO they need to buy us, but that 'X' number of users at their company are already using us," he said.

Kim Polese, CEO of SpikeSource, said there is a tremendous opportunity in the SMB market and at smaller enterprise and department level.

"It's a huge market that's been under-served because of the cost of acquiring and maintaining large enterprise applications," said Polese. "They want to connect better with customers and the supply chain, but they need low cost solutions." Polese said a lot of these customers want the flexibility of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) , monthly payment model rather than a huge upfront expense. She said many of these companies also want the flexibility of either SaaS or on-premise installation.

Jon Prial, vice president of content management and discovery at IBM , added that companies were looking for alternatives to "paying millions of dollars to Microsoft every year in licensing fees every year." He said IBM was focused on simplifying software complexity with single sign-on and single-click installation.

Looking out the next few years, Prial said there will be more efforts to unlock enterprise data and allow greater access to more employees who need it. He also said a lot more information about customer interests will be derived from tagging  as the use of blogs and other social media explodes.

Christoper Alden, executive vice president of blog tools provider Six Apart, said the next few years will be less about inventing or advancing Web 2.0-type technology, and more about companies figuring out better ways of how to use what we have. "Human engineering, not technical, is what will be important the next few years as companies figure out how to unlock knowledge in these enterprises," said Alden.