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I'm not sure where this originates from, but the most succinct definition I've heard for "Enterprise Software" is that the person who pays for it isn't the person who uses it.

If anyone even uses it at all!

I have a friend who works in a sales role for IBM. He told me that part of his bonus is contingent on being able to prove that the customer has actually installed the software which they bought.

The policy apparently arose because certain public sector entities had refused to consider new deals since they still hadn't got round to installing the software for which they had paid millions of dollars, years before.

I’d bet good money Watson got sold to a bunch of companies who wanted “AI” then they didn’t do anything useful with it.

It was a smart play by IBM, the sales guys want to say AI and machine learning, so give them some generic crap which gets loosely integrated into parent projects and they can have a field day on the phone selling it.

Watson would be a perfect study on modern big business software that these billion dollar consultancy companies engage in.

Plus IBM makes even more doing the “integration” than the original sale.

I'm almost certain that Watson was a series of Python and Prolog "scripts" that were packaged together with big black boxes, blue lights, tagged as AI, and run through the IBM sales and marketing machine.

The result was huge margins for IBM and customers scratching their heads afterwards.

Watson was the World's Greatest CS PhD Thesis.

Not so great as an actual business.

Watson isn’t software, it’s a brand.

And I'm sure the problem is now that a lot of places installed it but never used it.

One of the things I like about SaaS software is that a subscription revenue stream is more closely aligned with actually delivering value than a long-term sales model is. It's still not perfect, but I'll take what I can get.

This is so true. Whoever buys it usually checks off a list of features that it needs, but has no idea if it does any of those things particularly well.

I've seen this with mobile phones in the 90's-2000's. Until Apple came up with the iPhone designed for the end users, the phones' buyers were the networks, not the end users.

The same goes for companies like LinkedIn - they are now driven by recruiters and not the end users. Thus the idiotic interface and functionality changes that basically makes it unusable [to the most of the users].

I thought the recruiters were the end users and the rest of us were the product.

Apple's iPhone also brought new UI/UX ideas and people that grow up with these phones/desktops now and judge everything by that standard vs. what was considered "working" way back when. Android and Microsoft helped too. This industry shifts fast, so it's really no surprise people come to hate the older stuff by looks alone.

As someone who wrote code for two mobile handsets for two different companies in the referenced time frame, I would say there was a noticeable lack of innovation in the handset business.

Except, perhaps, in Japan - where mobile handsets were way ahead in terms of design and features as compared with the U.S.

Which, I think, can also be explained by the fact that the handsets in Japan were marketed to the end users as opposed to the U.S. where the buyers were the network operators.

That's because the recruiters are the users, and professionals are just the product that LinkedIn sells.

I dunno, the Nokia 3210 (and successors 3310 and 8210) were pretty good phones given the available technology at the time.

Not sure I agree. There was a lot of innovation on smartphones before the iPhone, they were just not as visionary as the iPhone was. Look up the Nokia N-Gage as an example

What an awful design it was!

As much as I loved simpler Nokia handsets, N-Gage is not what I would consider an innovation.

A personal opinion, of course.

The definition I like is: "Enterprise software is the one that once unavailable, the company is unable to run its core business."

“If it’s a core business function — do it yourself, no matter what.”

— Joel Spolsky, In Defense of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome, 2001: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2001/10/14/in-defense-of-not-...

I don't think he means software that is necessary for the business, I think he means if it specifically enables a profit-generating function in a business.

If you're FedEx, you don't buy someone else's logistics software package, you build your own.

That is a good definition.

I've heard you're saying and I think it's succinct, but a simplification of what's talked about in the post.

My example is when looking at daycare for my kid. They all boast about this app the teachers use to take pictures, update about their day, what they ate, when they went to the bathroom. In practice, each some teachers did it more than others, some none at all. When I would watch them, they'd be taking pictures with their iPads and spending time filling things out in lieu of other duties like watching the kids (although, most updates came during nap time after they had tidied up).

It pitches really well, but not quite necessary, and is often a huge time suck. I often still ask questions that app could answer (when did they have an accident, what happened? Did they eat all of their lunch? Did they nap today?) but I don't need a tedious record, just an occasional checkin.

I had another one comparing enterprise software to sex in marriage:

-it's very hard to sell

-usually it's crap

-maintenance is expensive

-many use it just to keep their job

-many furtively use better products from young startups

I agree, I had this discussion with a coworker the other day. So many tools are used because either an executive got marketed to effectively by the tool provider.

Maybe because "someone else pays for it" implies more than one person involved, which usually means an enterprise?

Do you consider the G Suite to be enterprise software?

It's a little tongue in cheek, but I think the distinction with G Suite is that the person who pays for it, also uses it.

Exactly. Most enterprise software is done to people, not for and with people.

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