Last week, I participated in a panel at CITE (Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise) with fellow VCs Arif Janmohamed of Lightspeed Venture Partners and Aaref Hilaly of Sequoia Capital. Aside from the humor we found in the trifecta of our first initials (the AAA panel!), our discussion on innovation and trends in consumer technologies for enterprises yielded some interesting insights.
Here are the highlights:
- Big data analytics: it’s no revelation that big data is big. But plenty more innovation is required to make sense of big data, which by definition is too “big” for companies to tackle on their own. ETL systems that extract, transform, and load data from disparate applications are still limited, particularly vis-a-vis data in legacy databases.
- Mobile CRM: it’s the holy grail of next-generation enterprise applications. There’s been a lot of start-up innovation in this space, but the market is very early. The biggest challenge is in creating a mobile CRM platform for salespeople that is truly easy-to-use and robust. The panelists agreed that the opportunity is big and that this problem will be solved.
- Social collaboration: my fellow panelists and I had some differing views on this space. One perspective is that social collaboration should be embedded in all software functionality, so it’s not a standalone function. Another is that next generation document management and messaging can be standalone platforms. I’m hoping for a re-imagining of email, which has become a bad combination of a to-do list, messaging infrastructure, and filing system.
- Shadow IT: employees pervasively and increasingly use services not explicitly approved by the enterprise. The battle for IT control has been lost, but IT teams can still provide valuable support to knowledge workers. Shadow IT should be less about control and more about learning from these “unsanctioned” systems to produce an intelligent IT solution.
- Disruptive technologies on the horizon: my bet is on anticipatory computing, as well as multilingual technology embedded in the design stage of application development. Others talked about Bitcoin, drones, and mobile messaging.
Overall, despite our best efforts to provide dissenting views for a more provocative discussion, my fellow panelists and I found ourselves agreeing on most topics around innovations in consumer technologies for enterprises. But in place of provocative disagreements was a spirited conversation that furthered the collective excitement on the innovations in IT and the enterprise. Disruptive opportunities abound in this space!
Which emerging solution or technology in IT consumerization has the most promise for you? I’m interested in hearing about new ideas.