To Win Enterprise, Target the Consumer

Disclaimer: I’m not preaching below, just an observation – I’m living through this and hoping to learn from others!

Over the past month, as a mentor at 500 Startups and while attending AppNation Enterprise, I’ve met a number of startups focused on enterprise mobility targeting the “prosumer.” A pretty consistent theme among these mobile apps is the focus on trying to achieve a direct-to-employee sales model. This makes absolute sense; investors are looking for the next Evernote or Dropbox where an app develops organically and is used by prosumers (whom have money) without the need of developing an expensive sales organization.

What I have fond ironic is that many of these startups are having to hire that “one” sales rep because their traction in a direct-to-employee model hasn’t panned out. This is the result of a multitude of reasons:

  • Employees organically connecting Salesforce via OAuth is great in concept but hasn’t really materialized (en masse) – it still requires awareness and “selling-in” of the product into the organization (and you can certainly argue that the apps just haven’t been compelling enough)
  • Other prosumer-facing OAuth enabled enterprise apps (eg Yammer, Basecamp) are just too small in marketshare. You effectively need to support a vast array of different enterprise cloud services to cover a large enough segment but also resulting in an app that may become less focused and have a painful on-boarding process
  • Although most SMBs do not customize their enterprise cloud services, some do, creating unfortunate scenarios where a user can’t use your mobile app and/or you ultimately have to customize for the user’s company
    And the real bummer with all of this is the company keeps trying to add horizontal features to target the prosumer instead of doubling-down with vertical-specific features for the segment their app is succeeding within. They are doing this because because investors won’t invest unless they can get rid of that “sales rep,” ultimately putting the startup in a perpetual state of “straddling” where straddle = FAIL.

    I’ve concluded that you can’t straddle between prosumer and enterprise. You either double-down on enterprise and choose a specific vertical or you actually target the consumer. I know that sounds completely left-field but the reality is that Dropbox and Evernote, being the representative prosumer success stories started as consumer apps that were widely adopted in the enterprise. Targeting the prosumer may be the ultimate goal but the aha moment for me was that the use cases need to appeal to the consumer.

    Android (and the Tab!) in the Enterprise

    This post was written as part of Samsung’s Mobile May. Please do check-out all the other guest bloggers at the Samsung Developer site.

    2010 was certainly the break-out year for Android. Apps for Android grew from an impressive 30K to an even more impressive 250K. Android devices have even surpassed iOS and are on the verge of surpassing RIM representing 40%+ of smartphone market share. The growth has been phenomenal but much of the focus has been consumer.
    On par with Android’s rise, is the growth of tablets into the enterprise representing a new opportunity for developers. Although this initial growth began with the iPad, the Samsung Tab and other devices are beginning to take reign within enterprises at a rapid pace and I fully expect that in the next couple years, Android may become the dominant tablet platform. Let’s talk about some of the enterprise Android trends and opportunities for developers!

    Individual Liable Devices
    Tablets are rapidly being purchased by employees of the enterprise. Traditionally, enterprises would issue their devices to their employees known as corporate liable devices but with new mobile device management tools, employees can now use their own devices for accessing corporate data. Employees like this since it provides them choice (eg Samsung Tab 7 inch or 10 inch?); they can purchase what they want and use it for work much akin to using your own laptop in the office!
    As a result, we have gone from maybe 20-30% of the employees in a typical enterprise being mobile enabled to 70%+. For the developer, this means demand! Employees want more apps from simple tools such as requesting a tax when I leave the office to more complex apps such as locating colleagues in the office via an in-door map – the opportunity is enormous!

    Enterprise App Stores
    Android’s “openness” allows enterprises to create their own app stores and thus why the Samsung Tab has been successful within the enterprise. If an enterprise for example, wanted to distribute an app to their employees, this would be difficult. Do I put it in the consumer App market? Or do I send a link to all my users and then re-send a link for each update? That would be quite painful!
    Android’s openness has allowed for enterprise specific app stores where the enterprise can control which apps they want to distribute without having to submit them into the general app market.

    As a developer, this means increased adoption and visibility for your enterprise apps. If you are listed in the company specific enterprise app store, you will certainly receive near 90%+ employee penetration! But with this, you must also keep in mind, that larger enterprises do request simple customization such as branding which is something you would need to accommodate.

    Cloud Adoption
    Enterprises are fragmented; their data resides in multiple tools (eg Exchange, Basecamp, Yammer, Salesforce Chatter). More and more of these tools reside in the cloud and many of these tools have mobile specific apps.
    With enterprise adoption of cloud services, app developers can more easily integrate corporate data into their application much akin to connecting your app to Facebook or LinkedIn with OAuth. This is huge for developers since much time in traditional enterprise apps were spent building the custom integration into each “on-premise” system.

    But equally important is Android’s multi-tasking architecture making it very easy to launch other applications amongst different mobile enterprise applications. For example, I could build a reader for enterprise news that feels seamlessly integrated with the Salesforce Chatter mobile application.

    The Samsung Tab has been a great demonstration of the power of Android tablets. Although I fully expect that you will see these tablets in your living room and the backseat of your car, the enterprise has been taking the lead in tablet adoption and offers a great opportunity for developers to build applications!