Fred Wilson posted a talk he did the other day on enterprises and networks. Including Q&A, the talk is nearly an hour. For me there is one incredibly important takeaway for software companies that are focused on the enterprise. And that is that in today's environment, in the long term, you must remember that your business model is a commodity, your software is a commodity, your customer service is a commodity and your sales team is a commodity. The thing that will provide you with sustainable, incremental value over the long term is your network of users. That is the one thing that is extremely difficult to copy in the long term. Enterprise focused companies that have large networks of engaged users that are adding value to the product simply because they use the product are the products that will win over the long term. Here are five good examples of enterprise software products that are successfully using their network to increase engagement and product value.
- Yammer (users are an extension of the sales force)
- LinkedIn (users -- i.e. job candidates -- are the product for recruiters)
- Mongo DB (users improve the code by using the product)
- DropBox (users are an extension of the sales force)
- Disqus (user discussion drives increased traffic and engagement to participating blogs)