Never has it been so cool to be boring. For years Box CEO Aaron Levie has waged a lonely campaign to make suit-and-tie business software less stuffy and more exciting. Based on some recent data, it looks like the world is taking notice.
Venture Capital As A Lagging Indicator
Box may have postponed its IPO, but VCs haven’t cooled their newfound interest in the enterprise tech sector. If VCs are investing in the enterprise, then it’s a good sign that it’s already a hot market. After all, as much as VCs may like to portray themselves as risk takers, they tend to lag innovation, not lead it. VCs like to invest in packs, chasing after whatever the big trend is.
It takes a very special VC to stand alone and make an investment in something that isn’t obviously “hot,” despite Y Combinator president Sam Altman’s (@sama) observation that “the ‘hot seed rounds’ that everyone is fighting to get in are anti-correlated with very successful investments.”
Which is why it’s telling that VC investment in enterprise technology startups is booming, hitting $5.4 billion in the first half of 2014, as TechCrunch reports:
While the overall volume of investments is down, the scale of those investments is way up. Cloudera, Box and others have raised gargantuan sums of money as investors bet on a complete restructuring of enterprise IT.
But this isn’t the only indication that the enterprise is cool.
Look To The Cloud
But it’s arguably an even bigger sign of enterprise “cool” that Microsoft Azure is growing even faster than AWS, as Nancy Gohring points out. AWS has been the cool kids club. When Azure grows even faster, that’s saying something significant.
Sure, Azure is growing from a much smaller base, making its growth look more dramatic.
But it’s also seeing the kind of growth that other vendors aren’t. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on the company’s earnings call, Microsoft “started to see adoption of [its] high-value services on top of our base cloud infrastructure” last quarter. This likely stems from enterprises rolling out hybrid cloud workloads, with Microsoft the most likely place to deploy these given its footprint in both public cloud and private data centers.
Developers Show The Way
Finally, it’s clear from reading the programming language tea leaves that however much the enterprise may fade from media hype, it remains a mainstay of developer attention. Java and C/C++ have long dominated the top of the programming charts, as recent IEEE data shows:
The consistent money is in the enterprise, as much as we’ve tried to spend the last decade forgetting it. As VisionMobile found, this is as true for mobile developers as it is for others. Mobile app developers that focus on the enterprise may not have more fun, but they make more money:
In short, not only is selling to businesses cool, but it’s profitable. Rather than build out your next Instagram or SnapChat knock-off, consider disrupting 30 years of clunky software with horrendous user interfaces. The office-drone masses will bless you for it.
Lead image by Flickr user DVIDSHUB, CC 2.0