June 4, 2008 SDF Grassroots IT

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On June 4, 2008 at Cooley Godward Kronish in Palo Alto, SDForum and Accel presented “The Consumerization of Software”. Susan Lucas-Conwell of SDForum and Kevin Efrusy of Accel welcomed the large crowd to talk about the big shift in adopting technology. Text from DJCline.com.

CIOs and IT managers no longer control access to information. Twenty years ago you could dictate what computers and software were used in your company. The fact that Scott Adams made millions from Dilbert cartoons showed the level of frustration from users being forced from above to adopt technology that did not meet their needs.

Now users want to choose what they use. Last year when consumers started buying Apple iPhones, IT managers worried that they did not run Microsoft’s Exchange or some other Virtual Private Network software. Rather than putting their foot down, IT managers accepted the inevitable consumerization of technology. Beyond the iPhone is the larger grassroots movement toward open-source, software-as-a-service (SaaS) from companies like Salesforce.com, Facebook, Netsuite, Genius.com, Parature, Hyperic, Zimbra, Qliktech, Echosign, and Cisco.

Vince Pangrazio of Cooley Godward Kronish moderated the first panel discussion on “A View on Software from Wall St” with Brendan Barnicle of Pacific Crest, Charles Carmel of Cisco and Mike Maples of Maples Investments. How do you build a grassroots adoption of your technology? Start with an easy to use tool with a specific solution that doesn’t cost anything to adopt. Get enough users, listen to them and start adding features they say they want. At some point they will start wanting to use it at work. It is hard for an IT manager to ignore a tested working application that has become a standard or platform.

Rich Wong of Accel had the first fireside chat with Brett Caine of Citrix Online. There are big opportunities in collaboration software.

Rich Wong of Accel moderated the second panel discussion on
“Beating the incumbents through bottom-up tactics” with Mike Ni of Netsuite, Duke Chung of Parature, Satish Dharmaraj of Zimbra and Javier Soltero of Hyperic. Mike Ni spoke of the incumbent dilemma to go outside for solutions. Duke Chung talked about the ability to scale fast and cheap. Satish Dharmaraj was big on word-of-mouth and trying it before you buy it. Javier Soltero recommended building software that could light up like a Christmas tree for the user in twenty minutes. The nice thing about users adopting software at work is that if it doesn’t work, you don’t have to tell your boss.

Rich Wong of Accel had the second fireside chat with Chamath Palihapitiya of Facebook. They talked about Facebook’s growing presence in the enterprise. The growth of Facebook demonstrates the law of large numbers where it simply could not be ignored by enterprises. Facebook supplies the plumbing of social networking. To keep it working, their engineers write and test their own code. If it breaks they know what to fix.

Kevin Efrusy of Accel moderated the second panel discussion on “Products for the end user instead of the manager” with Anthony Deighton of Qliktech, Jason Lemkin of Echosign and David Thompson of Genius. No one has figured out the guaranteed rules of success for viral growth. It is easier to see in retrospect. Google is a very simple CRM but how do you duplicate that? You have to offer something that is relevant to individual users than pitching to a company. You would not make a web surfer sit through a Powerpoint presentation. You would simply say “It does this for you. If you want to do that, click this.”

Rich Wong of Accel had the third fireside chat with Clarence So of SalesForce. He talked about all night hackathons and a new product called Faceforce created by Clara Shih. It merges the world of Facebook with the enterprise power of Salesforce. It is another example of how individuals are bringing their private and work life together.

If people are going to spend more of their lives online, they will want more control over how they do it. They will bring the tools they like and take them when they go. Companies recognizing this new reality will thrive in it.

Copyright 2008 DJ Cline All rights reserved.