Enterprise Software

“I’ll go in the store; it’s built for that.”

That is a quote from Jessica Kerr, who is a developer. She has a great blog on software development, called The Enterprise Eats Software. It starts with a poor experience for an online order for Lowe’s. Interestingly enough, as I read this, I was starting a home renovation project, but I didn’t have a bad experience, I had a great one. Read Jessica’s blog, and see what you think.

For my short story, we had contracted for a bathroom project, but we forgot to get some of the fixtures. The contractor came a day early to talk about things, and we realized we needed a shower diverter valve and trim kit. We looked for the trim, which is what was important to my wife, and found a valve to fit it. While the contractor called two local supply houses, I looked at Amazon. The suppliers didn’t have the valve, but Amazon did, noting delivery in two days. I ordered it around 10:30 am that day. It arrived around 11:00 am the next day, a day early and before the existing shower had been demoed.

That was fantastic. It made me think why would I want to use any service that wasn’t that amazing and quick. I got an email at my desk with a picture, telling me the package had been delivered and showed me where it was. I walked it upstairs thinking that calling multiple suppliers and then driving around town would have been a pain,  not to mention a time sink.

I don’t often find a lot of large companies do a good job with their software integrating into real world operations. A few do, and apart from Amazon, I’ll say build.com was incredible for us to get a tub and Wayfair got us a vanity very quickly (too quickly, actually). Both have built great systems that not only took the order but updated us and handled the complexities of shipping large items. Not to mention they both had an incredible selection available to peruse easily and quickly. Just finding a place to look at something like a tub in person is incredibly difficult.

Apart from the retail challenges, just the general experience from many enterprises leaves something to be desired. They just aren’t good at being agile, flexible, and maybe more importantly, constantly improving. They get caught up in some of the hassles, like bureaucracy, power struggles, too many rules, etc. They don’t know how to operate in a flexible, agile, constant change environment.

I’m reading Project to Product, which in many ways sees a lot of the same problems. Software is disconnected from the goals of the business, and too often there are individuals and processes that get in the way of becoming more effective across teams and partners. BMW is one of the success stories here, and I still think they’re behind Tesla in their industry. They might catch up, and if they do, it’s because they are learning to be a better software company, not a better manufacturer.

Steve Jones

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