Mash Up the Corporation
Jeremy Burton is betting that Facebook-style, bottom-up software development is destined to come to the corporate world.
Mr. Burton is the chief executive of Serena Software, which next month will introduce a beta version of its corporate mashup tool, called Serena Mashup Composer, and a service for running these Internet-based applications. A software veteran of Oracle, Veritas and Symantec, Mr. Burton was brought into Serena last March by its private equity owner, Silver Lake Partners. The big technology fund bought Serena in 2006 for $1.2 billion.
Over breakfast today, Mr. Burton explained the rationale for Serena’s move. First, he says, the years-long trend of cost-cutting and consolidating data centers is starting to give way to building software applications again. “If you want to use information technology to innovate and differentiate yourself, you’ve got to build something,” he said.
Second, Mr. Burton noted, corporate IT departments have been pared and centralized, so the demand for applications will surely outstrip the ability of those IT departments to build them.
So the answer, he says, is to let people outside the IT department build stuff themselves and innovate in software. Web-based services provide the medium, and easy-to-use tools will open the door. These won’t be complex applications, Mr. Burton said. But anything that is now handled by e-mail and Microsoft Office attachments — hiring approvals, sales discount approvals, press release approvals — is fair game for a mashup Web application.
The emerging corporate culture of user-generated innovation will fuel the trend. “The generation that is sitting in their dorm rooms building Facebook applications is going into the workplace in the next few years,” Mr. Burton said. “The whole mindset is innovation without permission.”
Serena is another endorsement for the shake-up-the-corporation concept known as Enterprise 2.0 — a concept whose significance is widely debated.