The Death of Big Software?


Forgive my morbidity lately, but something must be in the water.

Last week I had a little rant about the potential demise of the CIO role. Here's a more likely scenario: that big, clunky software systems that just about any CIO would tell you takes years to implement, could cost millions, and problem causes more headaches than it solves (at least from the get-go) will disappear.

Take ERP, for example. These beasts have plenty of bells and whistles, but it turns out that less than two-thirds of them are actually being utilized, according to a recent Accenture study. And one in two respondents say they don't need them all.

So does that mean vendors will start trimming down the flashy add-ons and keep it simple from now on? Hard to imagine in such competitive markets.

Will something new come along and replace these software systems? We're already seeing dozens of new technologies run amok on the turf formally controlled by Big Software. And there's no huge reason to think there won't be more.

But it's nearly impossible to say how quickly the new will phase out the old. In the same Accenture study, respondents said that slightly more than half of current enterprise IT systems will be replaced by new technologies in the next eight to 10 years. Still, it's tough to predict.

Cloud computing, SaaS, virtualization, social media/Web 2.0 -- all of these things are game changers, but will they truly replace the enterprise software of old? We're getting viewpoints from some of the smartest researchers, thinkers and CIOs out there.

Help us out: what do you think will happen?


6 Comments for "The Death of Big Software?"

  • Rita August 26, 2013 2:33 pm

    Jack WojcickiMarch 19, 2008 12:40 pmNice piece Danny! The deeper I've gone into exnimaing the role of social marketing' for PR and Marcom in general, the more I've come to realize that B2B has been doing this for quite some time. Indeed all this time that we've been involved in marketing or communication both to and via things like Associations, User Groups, general interest groups we've been doing social marketing. The big difference now, as with so many other aspects of communicating, is the influence of the Internet.From an agency perspective, the added challenge is that social marketing (SM) has become the strategy du jour and as such is more catch-phrase than fully formulated strategy. We are being required to do a lot of educating just so that our clients can understand what it means and if it will even work!There is a great group on Facebook called Facebook for business' that serves as a perfect example of the pitfalls of not doing SM correctly. This is a group with open membership and a code of conduct' that say no blatant advertising (spam) or self promotion' will be tolerated and that offending posts would be removed. In a 12 hour span the entire wall' was filled with spam messages. I envy the moderators and don't suggest they aren't doing their job, but it's something that has to be monitored 24/7.Facebook (and others of its ilk) as a means to reach a wide and diverse audience is fantastic. However, as a vehicle to both control content and to engage in interactive discussions, it is severely lacking unless one is willing to invest a lot of time. And that isn't even bringing into the equation the problem of knowing your audience'. As an un-audited venue are efforts (and therefore $$) spent there truly being focused wisely and how can one be truly accountable for that?Conversely, there are many other discussion areas (forums, blogs, etc) where membership is monitored, content is reviewed and abusers are banned'. In these cases only those that truly want to partake in sharing ideas and information are involved. It is here where, with due caution and care, we will find opportunities to present and exchange information and to learn about the needs of our audiences.

  • owen July 02, 2009 10:25 pm

    just as how java used "write once, run anywhere" to sell software, some things will be with us forever, like worms. If it works, enterprise software can be kept on life support FOREVER. as long as the company has the money to maintain it. People can preach cloud or agile or whatever, but only the foolish (or the poor and inefficient) will upgrade. Enterprise is a heavy ball and chain that we may have to live with forever.

  • Dave McComb June 11, 2009 10:14 am

    I agree with Steven Rdzak (above), among our client base (1,000 - 10,000 employees) the appetite for "big-bang" implementation projects is gone, and this is not just a recession-inspired reluctance´┐Ż"this is a trend that has been developing for awhile. But the $6.4 million-dollar question (down from the $64 million it was until recently) is: "What will they be replaced with?" Cloud, SaaS, virtualization, Web 2.0, even our own favorite Web 3.0 will not replace enterprise software. These are enabling technologies. What will replace the monoliths is partitioning and modularity. And not just marketing literature modularity, but real modularity. This is going to take some leadership, initially by individual companies, to set up what are the shared concepts and canonical messages that are needed such that applications as services really can be swapped out. As someone in this thread said, the installed base will go away very gradually, but we're pretty much done adding to it.

  • William A. Gilchrist , Jr. June 10, 2009 11:29 am

    I do not think that big software will ever go away. I am speaking as a developer and a software support person. Every time I have seen a software release go out in my 20 years in this business, folks always want more. Oh, it may be that some companies will start out by trimming down their software, but sooner or later, they will want the bells and whistles back´┐Ż"and more. Then it becomes like keeping up with the Joneses in that one company will have something cool in their system and everyone else will want it, too. I think the future holds more expert systems in store. If a piece of enterprise software can be modified on the fly by a person that is not a software developer, I feel like that may be coming. Just draw a picture of what you want and the system generates it for you type of things. No programming or special IT department needed. In the future, I think you will see more software vendors supporting the IT needs of companies rather than the company itself having a really healthy IT department. In other words, you may have a person who keeps up your hardware, etc., and all the programming can be done by drawing pictures or flow charts, etc., and the outcome is what you expected, rather than employing many programmers, network specialists, system administrators, DBAs and what have you. At this time, I work for a major software company and I do customer support for a large piece of software. I see more and more cases where all the IT staff pretty much is gone and some leftover person who has had a little IT background may be left in charge of running the systems in his/her spare time. In many cases, instead of getting a problem report where we tell the admin to do this or that to fix the problem, we have to walk the person who is administering the system through step by step how to perform those tasks. Well, that is my two cents. Thanks! Al Gilchrist

  • Steven Rdzak June 10, 2009 10:56 am

    Trends like SOA, which are now getting past the hype with IT initiatives buckling down to better modularize their business capabilities, will ultimately unseat the large monolithic application platforms. These platforms will have to modularize themselves and service-orient these modules so that customers can assemble composites from the vendor's catalog. Those that make this transition will survive; those that don't won't. The days of the extortion-based software model where you spend $200 to $300 million and put in a big package where you lock yourself in for 15+ years is gone. Businesses are just changing too rapidly now and the "build to last" model of big software is being replaced by "build to change" of smaller interoperable software modules.

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