Help! Enterprise software is failing! At least, that's what Rob Tarkoff, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Business Productivity Solutions, Adobe, said in his presentation at this year's Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco.
Playing on yesterday morning's speed dating with Sharepoint session, Tarkoff used his stage time to offer some "long term relationship" advice, and how Adobe plans to contribute to a customer-driven enterprise.
A Google-Lead False Promise Failprise
"Enterprise software is failing to deliver on the promise of the next generation customer experience," Tarkoff explained, naming a Google-lead social dance as the culprit.
His argument is that in the past 6-12 months Google and social platforms like Facebook have become so incredibly influential that they've turned the Web and customer expectations into something that business executives are struggling to keep up with. Claiming that most vendors are ignoring the change, Tarkoff explains that what the enterprise needs to stay afloat is a customer-driven makeover, from the way we think about design to the way we create and build applications.
"It's a high cost problem, any way you look at it," he said. "It requires organizations to invest in entirely different IT skill sets and expertise, but customers are being lead down a path of false promises about how to solve it."
Delight the Customer
"Help me rebuild!"
"Measure my interactions!"
These are some of the most common questions Tarkoff says he hears from clients wishing to catch up to two-dot-oh (whatever that even means nowadays). The key in his process of answering them lies in a "user-in" approach to solutions. User-in requires taking inventory of what users are "really" asking for, how they want to incorporate new capabilities into applications, how they want the applications to work--basically, building solutions based on complexity and diversity rather than relying on the unrealistic idea that there is one universal way to satisfy everyone.
Tarkoff says that building complex, individual solutions "delights a customer," enabling a company to maintain customer loyalty and drive higher lifetime revenue, the "ultimate measure of success."
Altering the Moment of Truth
To delight, Tarkoff says one must alter the moment of truth, better known as the second a customer meets their supplier. He believes that proper innovation serves to alter that moment and transform it into something truly different and truly better. "What was core in the past, is now context. What was context is no truly core," he explained.
Our insider also reported Adobe's latest method for altering this moment is by building solutions "from the user back," making sure to include every person in the user chain, thereby transforming experience and serving the customer better. He labeled three key enablers in this process:
- Client + cloud: Directories and repositories and all that good stuff
- Social computing: A peer network is better than anonymous sources
- Device and Desktop: "The PC is becoming the minority of onramps for people across the world," Tarkoff said. His belief that solutions must go across all devices (laptops, desktops, mobiles) is reflected in solutions like Adobe Air and that whole faux Flash for the iPhone incident.
Offering some insight to all of Adobe's recent and seemingly wackadoo moves (strange acquisitions, a turn toward business-centric solutions), Tarkoff said, "We're focused on building a platform for the next generation with partners, aquisitions and customer-driven innovation. The next wave of these customer-driven applications is an end-to-end look at everything we're doing. It's important to think about the on ramps; the various points people are coming in from. To integrate communities and information together."
What Do People Really Want?
Of course, there's another way to look at this sitch, and that is through the possibility that people don't actually know what they want until they get it. After all, it's arguable that that's one of the major cementing points of Google's offerings. Example: Why are so many people on the hunt for a Google Wave invite like it's a golden ticket to a secret factory filled with chocolate rivers and sugary magic when the solution is still chock-full of bugs? When we can't even be sure that it's going to be all we assume it will be?
There's a virtual bucket full of failed solutions (both enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0) that supports the idea that the best solutions are discovered via trial and error. Then again, maybe Adobe is onto something serious. Or perhaps they're right alongside Google in that we don't need anything more than the brand name to believe that whatever solution they kick out will become a necessity.