The 2017 Enterprise Almanac by Work-Bench is a must-read presentation for enterprise software aficionados (see here.) While Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends presentation offers precious little coverage of enterprise software (see here), the 2017 Enterprise Almanac is focused solely on enterprise software.
My Favorite Slides from the 2017 Enterprise Almanac
The 2017 Enterprise Almanac has about 150 slides of rich content. For me, two concepts stood out as being particularly insightful.
- First, the concept of “systems of intelligence” as opposed to “systems of engagement” or “systems of record”. Work-Bench attributes this notion to Jerry Chen of Greylock (see this post). Chen describes “systems of intelligence” as follows:
I believe that systems of intelligence™ are the new moats. What is a system of intelligence and why is it so defensible? What makes a system of intelligence valuable is that it typically crosses multiple data sets, multiple systems of record. One example is an application that combines web analytics with customer data and social data to predict end-user behavior, churn, LTV, or just serve more timely content. You can build intelligence on a single data source or single system of record but that position becomes harder to defend against the vendor that owns the data. For a startup to thrive around incumbents like Oracle and SAP, you need to combine their data with other data sources (public or private) to create value for your customer. Incumbents will be advantaged on their own data. For example, Salesforce is building a system of intelligence, Einstein, starting with their own system of record, CRM.
The idea of “system of intelligence” really resonates for me. I’m on the board of a company commercializing an AI technology called SWISS (see swiss.io). SWISS connects internal corporate and external industry engineering content to systems of engagement (e.g., Office 365, robots, etc.) and systems of record (PLM). I’ve been struggling with how to describe the technology to others. The concept of “system of intelligence” opened my eyes to the best way to describe it!
2. The 2017 Enterprise Almanac also reminded me that there will be two types of AI-powered enterprise software:
- “Invisible apps” that automate common business processes across businesses
- “Vertical AI”, hybrid/app services to automate company-specific processes. These latter solutions will be much more customized, but even stickier. (I suppose IBM is hoping to sell a bunch of these solutions with their Watson application.)
This segmentation is true of all enterprise software–it is either horizontal or vertical. But it was good to be reminded that this segmentation will, of course, extend to AI-powered applications.
We read mainly about “invisible AI apps” right now as we can all relate to them, but there will plenty of industry-specific AI, or company-specific AI opportunities to follow in the years ahead.