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

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.

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