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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The Endless Packaged Application Lifecycle of Change

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While I know a lot of entrepreneurs and folks in small companies read this blog, I also know that there are plenty of folks in big companies that do also.  I ask those of you in a big company two questions:

  1. Does your organizations use packaged applications like Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft, or SAP?
  2. Is managing the implementation, upgrades, and customization of these applications a nightmare, especially in a world of company and vendor consolidation?

In case you are wondering, these are rhetorical questions.  In 2002, Niel Robertson sat down with me and my partner Seth Levine and went through his vision of how the packaged application market was going to evolve.  He had a few key premises, including:

  1. Packaged applications were not going away anytime soon and, in fact, would become the central platform for IT because of their back office nature (as opposed to web sites or Exchange infrastructure).
  2. While customers who bought PeopleSoft, Oracle EBS, SAP, etc.. thought they were moving away from custom development, they were in fact just exchanging traditional custom development for a new kind of customization development on those platforms.
  3. Packaged applications, while different, had all evolved to have the same basic architecture; one based on metadata and the classic MVC design model. As a class they were more similar than they were different.
  4. Managing a packaged application was a change-centric activity while traditional development was a build centric activity.

This was a set of PowerPoint slides and a bunch of ideas in Niel’s delightful brain that fit nicely in a theme we loving refer to as “IT Management.”  Five years later, his vision is embedded in a rapidly growing company called Newmerix that we are proud to be investors in. 

Newmerix recently launched their Newmerix Automate! for Oracle E-Business Suite and Automate!Test for SAP completing the development of the third generation of their products (for those keeping score at home, remember the Microsoft 3.0 cliche – if you don’t know it, hang around and I’ll tell you about it some day.) 

Congrats Niel and the entire team at Newmerix.  It’s really cool to see a vision like this come together in real products for real customers. 

Get Ready For Selling To The Enterprise To Be A Big Deal Again

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Eric Norlin – the organizer and host of the upcoming Defrag Conference (Denver – Nov 5 and 6 – hottest ticket in town since the World Series will be over) has a great rant up titled Cycles, Juxtapositions, and Predictions.  Midway through the rant, he says:

“Putting it all together, here’s what I’m thinking: Bottom line — Tech innovation is about to get very focused on selling to the enterprise.”

He goes on to say:

“And here’s how it all relates to Defrag: I see a lot of the companies in the “defrag space” (including a lot of our sponsors) starting on the consumer-side of things. I also see nearly all of them making the shift toward the enterprise.”

My regular conversations with my CIO friends, including The Architect, confirms this point of view.  Large corporate IT has digested a lot of the innovation from the last cycle and is preparing for adopting and incorporating much of the consumer side innovations we’ve seen explode on the scene in the past two years.  Enterprise 2.0 anyone?

If you haven’t signed up for Defrag yet, register and come join us to engage in the conversation and help us figure this out.  Enterprise people welcome.

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