Enterprise Suits Up for the Ride, but Seeks a Safe Landing

This is what would happen if Santa were an Enterprise App and he tried to automagically incorporate 2.0 grooviness overnight.

Santa as Enterprise App on 2.0 house

The irony just got the better of me… I’ve been wrestling with wretched old-school health forms all afternoon that will undoubtedly be, um, input or maybe scanned into some old-school enterprise system that will carefully set up my health insurance for 2008. If it weren’t Sunday, I probably could do some digging and figure out exactly what the “business process” is that will determine my paper-input-to-digital-imprint record through the labyrinth of enterprise systems. Will an outsourced provider be involved? Probably. A mainframe? Probably. A large-scale database? Oh yeah.

Have I enjoyed this process today? No. Was I able to customize my health insurance policy and my coverage according to my particular family’s health situation? Not in a 2.0 way. Was I able to choose a health insurance company by my review of doctors online and get recommendations from other insureds about which health insurance companies actually paid claims on time and answered questions with friendly, caring concern? Well, definitely not.

While I’ve been grousing about doing this all day, clicking on web sites, downloading forms, etc., I’ve had Snitter (a Twitter stream) up and have been keeping my eye on the chatter of the day. It appears Robert Scoble dared to ask why Enterprise Apps weren’t sexy, and well, you can imagine how my Enterprise Irregularguild” reacted to that. Nick Carr even got involved. It’s only Sunday too, so we’ll see where it goes. (See Dennis Howlett, Michael Krisgsman, Anshu Sharma, Vinnie Mirchandani.) Me? I agree with all of them, oddly enough. On the one hand, I’m having a miserable experience, and I agree with Nick Carr, and I really wish the health insurance company had more consumer-y features. New York Times Design Director Khoi Vinh expressed nearly the exact same sentiment with this post earlier this fall. I agreed with him then too.

On the other hand, for those of us who are working hard to try and transform, enlighten/educate enterprises on how they need to introduce some of this radical change to leverage innovation and wealth creation, we know what we’re up against. Enterprise applications are carefully managed fleets comprised of many battleships that simply cannot turn on a dime. Nor, would you want them to.

Should my son be rushed to the hospital in 2008 because he didn’t quite land that skating trick he’s been practicing in the street, I want to make sure all systems are go and the woman at the reception desk doesn’t get a message from my insurance company like this: 2.0 error

Author: Susan Scrupski

Longtime fan of technology to improve humanity.

15 thoughts on “Enterprise Suits Up for the Ride, but Seeks a Safe Landing”

  1. Bottom line on the entire debate:

    — Enterprise-level reliability is required for mission-critical systems. Susan made this clear and she is right.

    — At the same time, innovations are essential to progress.

    By combining web 2.0 innovations with deep understanding of enteprise-level issues, one can create something of true and lasting value.

    Given choice in the matter, I’d personally hang around with people who understand both sides of the equation. They’re the ones who will change the world.

    Michael Krigsman

  2. @Bob- I just hate it when I get a thump on the head for being sexist. It’s happened to me twice on this blog– I deserve it and its so embarrassing!. Thanks for that, though. I’ve been meaning to get a post out about “women in tech,” so you’re motivating me to get that done…

    On the error message, it was a WordPress error message. Typically, these web 2.0 error messages are rarely fixed right away. We all groan when Twitter is down for hours, or our blogs fall apart, etc. The point is Krigsman is right that 2.0 is not enterprise-proof yet for serious business. He has blogged about that before. You’re right about human error. I was focusing on the availability, reliability issues that can cripple an enterprise.

  3. 1) I’ve had a house that looked pretty much like the one in your picture! So it brought a smile.

    2) Your error message you say you’d not want the hospital receptionist (why assume a woman?) to get, actually sounds pretty good to me, if you are comparing it to what we usually get. Having it actively monitored and fixed quickly sounds really great! On the other hand, your point may be you didn’t want it to fail at all, and don’t want new features at the expense of reliability. That’s a good point — but don’t forget to count all the incorrectly-entered data from bad UI or bad scanning against the old way, too.

  4. Susan, as CIO I would approve your direct access via web 2.0 in a heartbeat…because you are the ultimate customer and know your own data best..that is line with the design principle of “capture data at source once in electronic format”….unfortunately the “internal customer” who takes your scanned copy today and enters it is probably whining about how poor his/her data entry user interface is and wants that upgraded…there in lies the challenge a CIO faces – they should be focused on empowering the source like you through self service or other capture methods…but intermediaries trying to save their own jobs and budgets often have more sway…

  5. You’ll notice I didn’t name my insurance company in the post. But I will here in the comments. It is, in fact, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. Not having a 2.0 experience. Nice 1.0 experience, lots of clicks and downloads, but 2.0, no. Still involves the use of a ball-point pen too.

    Ideally, I’d like a web-based, DIY interface before the insurance company login that gives me much more flexibility and choice. That may be a function of our U.S. health system more than enterprise software… 🙂

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