Consumer Software is the New Enterprise Software

Recently, a colleague asked for a recommendation on an enterprise asset management system.

Frankly, I’ve only had bad experiences with enterprise level software. My major complaints have been;

  • Too hard to use
  • Too expensive
  • Doesn’t map to existing business culture and processes

I ask what this system will be used for; sharing digital photos remotely.

There’s a requirement to annotate the photos for easy searching, there’s a requirement to alert other team members when new photos have been uploaded. The photos won’t be at high quality – they just need to be higher resolution than a black and white fax.

First, how many photo sharing sites are there? a dozen?, including shutterfly, ofoto, smugmug, and snapfish, picasa and open source projects like Gallery. Not to mention sharing is built into Apple’s iPhoto. As a happy customer, my first instinct was to recommend Flickr.

Needless to say, this problem has been solved for Joe Everyman. If we consider thousands of disparate registered customers one big enterprise, these apps have proven to be stable, reliable, on a multitude of platforms. Flickr’s pro account is $25 per year. For 10 team members, that’s only $250/year. I don’t know of a more reliable, easier to use client-server enterprise application that costs less than $250/year. Seems like a small price to pay for an application that’s continually being updated and provides the same volume of capabilities.

Let’s not even look at photo sharing, in the text publishing side there’s TypePad, on the project management side there’s Basecamp, in the email list management side, there’s Campaign Monitor (happy customer).

None of these services were build with The Enterprise as an explicit target. They were built to make a task easier for everyone. As such, there’s a better than even chance someone in your enterprise is familiar with these or similar tools. The benefit to an enterprise is clear, employees already know how to use them.

And they don’t cost an employee’s annual salary.