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Defining the Enterprise


In a recent internal presentation, I attempted to define the Enterprise in terms of our products. We’ve been in the desktop software business for more than 30 years, and now we’re delivering Enterprise-level solutions as well. And like all things, there are some growing pains around this, coming up with a consistent definition of Enterprise and Enterprise Software looks like it’s going to be one of them. I started with the Merriam-Webster dictionary, where I found that an Enterprise is: 1) a project or undertaking that is especially difficult, complicated or risky; 2) a unit of economic organization, especially a business organization; and 3) a systematic purposeful activity.  The second one seemed like the best fit. I went on to define Enterprise software as the computer programs, or applications, that an organization uses to accomplish its business objectives, in particular, those running at the organization level. That’s pretty high level, so I’ve compiled with a list of some of the characteristics of Enterprise Software. That list includes:

  • On-line, On-demand
  • Interoperable Components or Apps
  • Intelligent workflows constructed from Apps (or Components)
  • Servers and Clients
  • Automated data processing
  • “Headless” engines running in the background
  • Centralized data storage
  • Open standards
  • Flexible deployments
  • Application Service Providers
  • Heterogeneous environments
  • Organization-level solutions as opposed to individual-level solutions

This is in no way a comprehensive list. What I discovered through this exercise is that there is a range of views of what it means to develop and deploy Enterprise-level products. I thought I’d write about the definition of Enterprise and Enterprise Software here in order to solicit additional feedback from a broader audience. So let me know what you think. How do you define Enterprise? What does it mean in your organization?