Aziz Gilani is a Managing Director at Mercury, where he focuses on investing in corporate SaaS, cloud and data science startups.
Other contributions from this contributor
- The real impact of Snapchat's write-off for entrepreneurs
If you were a software company employee or venture capitalist in Silicon Valley before 1993, you probably spoke of "information systems software" rather than "enterprise software". How and why did the industry change its name?
The obvious, but confusing answer is simple: "Star Trek: The Next Generation".
As confusing and amazingly satisfying as your local Trekkie office is, the industry has renamed itself thanks to a marketing campaign by the original venture-backed systems software company. Boole & Babbage (now BMC software).
While the term "company" was used to describe complex systems before 1993, everything changed when Boole & Babbage signed a two-year license agreement with the then highest rated show in syndication history to produce an info brand.
Star Trek fans have been talking about this crazy marketing agreement for years, and you can read the full details of how it was done in TrekCore. But even trekkies don't appreciate the long-term impact on our industry. In this license agreement with Paramount, Boole & Babbage had unlimited rights to create and distribute as much Star Trek content as possible. They physically sent VHS tapes to customers, ran magazine ads, and even dressed their employees as members of Starfleet at trade shows. Boole & Babbage used this initiative to market itself as an "Enterprise Automation Company".
Commander Riker says in the info brand: "Just as the bridge centralizes the functions required to control the USS Enterprise, Boole products centralize data processing information to enable central control of today's complex information systems." This seemed to cause an itch that other system companies didn't think was necessary.
Not to be beat, IBM In 1994 the OS / 2 operating system was renamed to "OS / 2 Warp" and reference was made to Star Trek's "Warp drive". They also attempted to replicate Babbage's license agreement with Paramount by instructing Enterprise's Captain Picard (played by actor Patrick Stewart) to lead the launch. Unfortunately, Paramount wouldn't play a ball, and IBM instead hired Captain Janeway (played by actress Kate Mulgrew) from Star Trek: Voyager. The licensing issues didn't prevent IBM from hiring Star Trek's Mr. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) to record a five-minute intro of the event:
Outside of OS / 2, IBM's announcement list for 1994 included 13 other corporate initiatives. Leading software companies soon began to rename and publish products, with the term "enterprise software" serving as a valuable identifier. After 1993, manufacturers of MRP software such as SAP and Baan began to use the new nickname "Enterprise", and in 1995 Lotus changed its name to "Enterprise Software Company".
"Enterprise" was officially the coolest new slang, and after IBM bought Lotus in 1996, they built "Enterprise" into all of their products. And while Gartner's 1990 Wylie article "ERP: A Vision of the Next Generation MRP II" was the technical birth of ERP software, nobody cared until Commander Riker Harold said that he "should have your entire company from one Monitor Checkpoint From ". The gram numbers don't lie:
Almost 30 years later, we live in a world where companies run business software and the term is ubiquitous. Whenever I see a software business plan hit my desk or read an article about business software, I can only give Commander Riker a little credit.