Saturday, October 9, 2010

What Digital Convergence means for Enterprise Software

The digital world, which now is all around us, is converging. This means that television, Internet, telephony and a host of other services are starting to use the same mechanisms for delivering the service or delivering customer management. I have written about smart metering, how using some form of the Internet - our energy usage will be made more efficient and tailored to our specific usage patterns. Television is being delivered over the Internet, Internet televisions, iPlayers and the like are becoming the norm (creating huge demands on bandwidth).

I would like to address the question of enterprise software. More and more in my day-to-day consulting I encounter companies who are diversifying their businesses to provide a wide variety of services over the Internet. After-all, if you can provide television over the internet, why not sell music, why not offer broadband and maybe even throw in a mobile phone or fixed line phone contract. If you have the systems to do all of that you might as well re-sell energy, not to mention insurance and financial services. I am not saying it is a good idea to diversify to such an extent, but if the basic systems (billing, web-portal, customer services) are similar, it is certainly worth thinking about.

Enterprise software, i.e the software that maintains billing information, computes bills, allows one to view accounts online, handles online marketing campaigns etc., etc. will need to become more flexible to meet the growing series of requirements of it's more diversified clients. It is unlikely that one software system will be able to handle the ever growing functionality required to meet the diversification demands. However the winner in the market I believe will be those systems that offer very good, robust and scalable functionality and provide open interfaces which allow other software to easily interface into them. It is not inconceivable, that a open-source solution will in time replace SAP and Oracle as the system of choice to handle the basic back-end functionality.

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