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Fritz Nelson
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Google, Workday, Evernote Preach Future Of Enterprise Software At E2

Enterprise software landscape is changing dramatically, driven by rapidly evolving customer needs and a growing list of technology providers ready to answer them.

Stan Swete, the CTO of Workday, John McGeachie, VP of business at Evernote, and Amit Singh, President of Google's enterprise business, will be featured keynote speakers at the upcoming E2 Conference, June 17 - 19 in Boston. Evernote and Google are best known for consumer technology, but that's changing; and Workday has been challenging, and succeeding, against the big boys of enterprise software for almost a decade. During our fireside chats, we'll be discussing the new enterprise software landscape: why and how it's changing, and how these companies are playing a part.

Not long ago, companies like Oracle, SAP, IBM and Microsoft (sure, toss CA in there) duked it out for supremacy in enterprise software. Today, those companies are, for the most part, transforming before our eyes, like big, plodding cargo ships undergoing reconstruction into sleeker vessels while in motion, but still carrying the weight of legacy products and legacy customers.

Those companies are acquiring or partnering with smaller, more nimble startups at an astonishing pace, releasing completely revamped products or inventing completely new ones with unprecedented frequency, and trying on terminology like "beautiful software" or "customer experience" as if they were middle-aged recipients of a made-for-TV wardrobe makeover.

Give them all credit: they've each got the checkbook to pull off the transformation, and none of them has been shy about whipping it out.

There are many catalysts: new software delivery models (SaaS); an extraordinary explosion of unstructured and unmanaged data (big data) and an associated need to analyze it, understand it and act on it, sometimes instantly or predictively (real-time analytics, in-memory architectures and integrated software/hardware stacks, data visualization, Internet of Things); a socially connected world that expects the same at work (social business); on-the-go information consumption patterns (mobile); and relentless expectations around customized and exquisite customer experiences.

The other important driver, of course, has been the constantly emerging field of competitors, unburdened by legacy business models and entrenched and stagnant customers, all ready to pounce on, or even define, each new trend.

Workday, maker of cloud-based human resource and finance applications, practically blew in from Oracle's wind shear in 2005, although Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri took pains to dismiss revenge motives in a recent New York Times piece that focused on what it deemed the modern-day feud between Workday and NetSuite (the principles of each company, like many in the world of software, have Oracle-related origins). Workday has gobbled up an impressive list of customers that started with smaller organizations, but now includes many blue-chip companies, like Flextronics, Avon, Chiquita, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Aviva. HP CEO Meg Whitman highlighted Workday specifically as a technology partner during a recent earnings call.

Workday will close in on more than a half-billion dollars in annual revenue sometime in the next two years (it is expected to surpass $400 million during the current fiscal year), according to analyst estimates, and its market cap has soared after a successful IPO in 2012. It owes plenty of that to the steady work of CTO Stan Swete, who guides the strategy and execution of Workday's technology, now at version 19. Swete and the Workday team tackled mobile user experience long ago, and they have also worked to build analytics into the application, including the ability to store data in the cloud, and to analyze and correlate the data. Swete says it isn't a data warehouse, but a "warehouse with a point-of-view," associated with either workforce or financial information.

Swete will join us for a fireside chat at the E2 Conference, where we'll ask him more about these initiatives, Workday's success and ongoing challenges (after all, its revenue is practically a rounding error for Oracle), and how Workday is treating the social experience within its applications, which seems to be emerging as a new imperative in the enterprise.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin calls his cloud-based note-taking/information-storing/memory-capturing application a "second brain," and for lack of a better explanation, that one does just fine. I've described it as a cloud-based app which you can run on the Web, from downloaded client apps on the desktop and on every major mobile platform. In it you can store your notes, website clips (even for offline reading -- there's a clipper plug-in for major browsers), pictures, voice recordings and more (e.g., importing notes from apps like NoteTaker for the iPad or LiveScribe). It has millions of users, some of them taking advantage of the free version, and plenty taking advantage of the premium/paid version. (You can watch a video interview with Libin embedded in this article.)

Three years ago, the product also became a "platform" when Evernote announced Trunk, which created an ecosystem around the product's APIs, including a Trunk store and a host of launch partners, like SAP, which had just started shipping its Streamworks social platform. Beyond these extensions, Evernote also includes the ability -- for premium users -- to share content, making Evernote a poor-man's social business tool.

But still, the company wasn't quite ready to embrace the enterprise until late last year when it formally launched Evernote for Business. With his typical straight talk, Libin called it "the end of butt-ugly software." It let businesses deploy and manage the Evernote application on behalf of employees, and extended this "second brain" company-wide -- a "business brain," said John McGeachie, who's been put in charge of Evernote Business. We'll be chatting with McGeachie at the E2 Conference, and we'll ask him how business uptake has been so far and how companies are using it (and we'll maybe even ask a question about Evernote's desire to build hardware).

And then there's Google, still forging its way in the enterprise, counting on riding the coattails of its success with consumers straight into the corporation, hoping for a mindset ready for change and innovation. I've written plenty about the company's plans here, and about how Google's enterprise chief, Amit Singh, will lead off our keynotes at the E2 Conference. Make no mistake: Google sees a big opportunity to unseat Microsoft on the desktop (browser, e-mail, apps), Amazon in the cloud, and a host of others in social media and communication. If Google's intentions are unclear, consider that Singh spent 20 years at Oracle (yes, another one!).

While Google has become a behemoth on the consumer side, it's still playing the role of disruptor in the enterprise, which makes the E2 Conference a great place to tell its story. It will join several other disruptors, like Jive, Yammer, Marketo, Hubspot, Datameer, 10Gen and more, starting June 17 in Boston. We hope to see you there.

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