A couple of years ago, I took part in an AIIM project that was examining the recent changes impacting enterprise software systems - consumarization and mobile, social, and cloud based software. Spearheaded by none other than Geoffrey Moore (yes, the one of Crossing the Chasm fame), we ended up defining the terms systems of record and systems of engagement. You can find the AIIM paper by Geoffrey Moore here.
But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that we got it wrong back then. When I look at the current landscape, the traditional enterprise applications have all taken on the aspects of systems of engagement. Pretty much every application has a mobile story. There is no mobile enterprise software market. All decent enterprise software has mobile capabilities today. Most enterprise software vendors have added social capabilities to their software. Many of them have launched their cloud initiatives. In fact, I am not sure that there are many viable systems of engagement left out there. Even the vendors who started in the systems of engagement world are rushing to add some of those boring system-of-record features like a repository, security, and governance in an attempt to look more like true enterprise software.
Take the Customer Experience Management market as an example. Those were supposed to be the ultimate systems of engagement - the web based applications engaging with the company’s customers, partners, and employees. But to a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), these applications are not just about engagement. They are about leads, opportunities, and deals. The Marketing department is being measured by the strength of the pipeline and the opportunity-to-deal conversion ratio. To the CMO, these systems are his systems of record as much as systems of engagement.
In reality, there are no two separate worlds. No systems of record and systems of engagement. What used to be referred to as systems of engagement are a new set of capabilities that have, greatly improved the traditional enterprise applications. When done right, they can significantly augment the usability and adoption rates of enterprise software. But they are not a separate market. They are features.
There is only one type of enterprise software - systems that manage enterprise information.