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11/3/2009
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Enterprise 2.0: Is Enterprise Software Failing?

Software providers must look beyond lists of features and address business needs. And they must deliver on the promise of the next-generation customer experience.

To hear Rob Tarkoff tell it, "Enterprise software is failing."

Tarkoff, SVP and general manager of Adobe's business productivity solutions group, said so in a presentation at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Enterprise software is failing, he said, because it's not delivering on the promise of the next-generation customer experience.

Part of the issue is the rapid pace of change. In the past year, we've moved from Google's Web of information to Facebook's Web of connections, said Tarkoff. Enterprise software hasn't kept up.

Becoming a customer-driven enterprise requires rethinking how applications are designed, he argued.

Adobe, as a maker of rich media development tools, approaches the gap between Enterprise 2.0 ideals and practice as something that can be bridged through a better user-interface.

But as other conference speakers and experts suggest, bridging that gap requires institutional support for the emerging technological solutions.

As Jonathan Yarmis, a research fellow at New York-based consultancy Ovum, described the issue in a phone conversation, there's too much technology focus and not enough business focus.

Microsoft's SharePoint presentation at the conference exemplified the techno-centric approach. It featured Christian Finn, director of SharePoint product management for Microsoft, in a mock dating scenario with Microsoft social computing product manager Alina Fu.

In performance reminiscent of Apple's "I'm a Mac" ads, and Microsoft's "I'm a PC" response, Finn played role of SharePoint and Fu played the role of a potential customer, seeking to be convinced of SharePoint's merits.

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