Startups Fight Giants for the Real-time Enterprise

Real-time social applications for the enterprise have real products and real customers and about 18-24 months of lead time, but 2010 is the year that startups making such apps will be faced down by the likes of tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM and Salesforce.com. A new report from GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d) by analyst Sameer Patel sets the stage for the impending battle for enterprise hearts and minds.

In 2010, expect to see the concept of the real time enterprise ascend the hype cycle. Enterprises will begin to analyze how real-time access can help discrete business processes such as customer interaction, sales intelligence, lead generation, partner interaction and employee project collaboration, and they’ll begin to evaluate the switching cost of moving their systems and data to platforms that have real-time as part of their solution sets. Customers and prospects are interacting with each other and with enterprises in real-time making it imperative for the enterprise to structure its own internal and external processes to respond to customers as fast as possible. Expect this shift to be one of the primary drivers for considering a real-time architecture.

But as Patel notes, the real-time enterprise isn’t a foregone conclusion. Key stumbling blocks are integration with other enterprise systems, information overload, existing enterprise norms and portability. While startups such as Yammer, Socialcast,* Jive Software, Telligent Systems, NewsGator and Socialtext are off to a promising start, Patel sees Microsoft and IBM being most likely to capitalize on their existing enterprise relationships with the upcoming release of SharePoint 2010 and subscription-based pricing for Lotus Connections, respectively.

*Disclosure: Socialcast is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

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