Rethinking Enterprise Software: The Rise of Ultraprise
(Reading time: approximately 3 minutes)
Nobody has ever accused us of thinking too small.
As we started building Hubba, we took a deep look into how software was used. Historically, technology was categorized as either consumer or enterprise. If you just happen to land on earth and look at this division, that taxonomy doesn’t seem to really work. Being enterprise software veterans ourselves, it took some time for us to break free from our old school thinking and see two critical realities that shaped our company:
It’s all about the people and connections.
1) Business is conducted by people, not organizations.
2) Business is conducted between organizations, not within organizations.
So we decided that using our technology to transform businesses would be great but using it to transform entire industries would be just awesome. Our approach was simple, blow away the concept of enterprise software. Simply give individuals access to great technology and allow them to connect and do business with others within their industry.
We demolished the confines of the enterprise software and created a new world called Ultraprise.
Ultraprise technology has several key features:
1) Users are individuals. They can represent their businesses but it is about the person. The concept of an enterprise is just as a collection of individual users.
2) Users get value from the technology regardless of whether or not they connect to others.
3) The value increases exponentially with new connections.
Some of you may be thinking “this is nothing new”
That may be true, each component on their own. But pull all of these pieces together and it is a novel way of doing business. It is like consumer software because the emphasis is on the individual but it is to help the individual do their job better. It is like a B2B marketplace but unlike a marketplace where the value is on the transaction, each user can receive value without being connected. And yes, it is like a social network but the objective is to drive commercial results.
These concepts can be a little esoteric, so I will use Hubba as an example of an Ultraprise solution. The core of what we do is solve what has become a mission critical operation for brands and retailers: having comprehensive, consistent and correct product information. Brands spend billions of dollars in R&D and marketing to create a great product yet at the moment of purchase decision when searching for information online or in-store on their mobile, about 75% of that information is incorrect.
On the flip-side, retailers are getting pressure to give their customers more information and a better experience, yet they are content starved and can’t get this data from the brands fast enough. Enter Hubba.
First and foremost, we do not need to sell into the C-Suite of organizations.
In fact, we do what we can to avoid that. The reason is that I don’t need P&G on our solution. I need Sarah the brand manager and her colleagues to get on board. They should sign up themselves. Our job is to make Sarah’s life easier, not P&G’s. The thesis, however, is that P&G will do better if Sarah and her colleagues are all doing better.
Second, without connecting to another user on Hubba, Sarah can get tremendous value. One of the reasons that we started building Hubba is because we knew how archaic it was to manage product information at the brand level. Information sits on multiple systems, on different people’s computers, with your agencies and a million other places. Now, all of a sudden, Sarah can use Hubba as her ‘single source of truth’ for her products.
She has a robust, cloud platform that, unlike companies like Dropbox, is tailored specifically for products and users like marketers and salespeople. Sarah can see immediate value.
Third, that value is increased significantly when Sarah decides to share her product information with, not the retailers, but her contacts at the retailer whose job it is to manage product information. Remember, this is about people, not organizations. When Sarah invites her ‘friends’ to connect to her products, they always have current, comprehensive and correct product information. And for Sarah, she has a platform where she can finally manage once and sync with many as opposed to the hundreds of emails and product listing forms she is in charge of managing today.
The users who Sarah connects with can then go invite all of their connections at the other brands they deal with. The other brands then invite other retailers. That gets us the network effect we are looking for. Now all of a sudden, we have an industry who is using our ultraprise software as the de facto standard to share product information.
The beautiful part for us is that this approach works across all industries. In just the first few weeks we have signed up users from hundreds of brands with us hitting a milestone of 100 brands in 24 hours two weeks ago. We have already started to hit the tipping point in industries like sport equipment and apparel, fashion, pharmaceutical, health and beauty, toys and baby, wine and spirits and a bunch of others.
The most interesting findings for me are:
1) Retailers, who are generally extremely competitive, are encouraging others to get on the network because it provides greater incentive for brands to keep their information up to date.
2) Retailers who at one point were happy to join the network are now mandating the network as the only way they will accept vendor data moving forward.
So we have moved from company hunters to industry hunters. At least nobody can accuse of thinking too small.
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