We’ve written about companies like Weebly and SynthaSite which want to give the average Joes the tools to create their own good looking websites without hiring a designer or writing a line of CSS or HTML. But this trend is extending.
Enter a range of startups that offer Do It Yourself software services for businesses including Coghead, LongJump, most recently a just-launched product called Iceberg made by a two-man Irish company called Fractis.
The vision that these companies share is simple: If someone can comprehend a business process, they should be able to turn that logic into a useful software offering without the labor, costs, and limitations of customized code. Building a powerful, custom CRM system (including customizing versions of software-as-a-service market leader Salesforce) is a time-consuming and expensive process that carries a fair amount of risk that the software will not work according to plan.
Like its competitors, Iceberg has developed visual drag-and-drop interfaces that simplify the processes of building enterprise apps and make them easy to share. But Iceberg stands apart in a few ways: both Coghead and LongJump are hosted, which means those companies maintain the apps on their servers and “rent” you subcription rights to them. While Iceberg offers that option, it also lets you host your app yourself and even sell it to others under your own name.
Iceberg also seems to have more going on under the hood. A look at Coghead’s featured application page reflects the kind of apps Coghead has enabled people to build: A basic project management tool that enables task assignment and automated notifications; a simple CRM that does basic pipeline management, and a handful of more sophisticated creations, including a “Marketing Lucidity Lead Model” that helps B2B marketers keep track of their leads and deal flows across their organizations.
In contrast, a basic Iceberg project management tool offers everything that Coghead’s does and adds in access permissions (so Jane’s team can see the whole project but Bob’s can only see their own tasks), an automated scheduling process with sophisticated exception rules (so if Bob doesn’t complete his task in a set amount of time, it immediately gets bumped over to Jane — unless it’s Christmas). Iceberg could in theory use the Facebook API to find and extract a prospect’s interests before getting him on the phone.
The implications are substantial. if these tools work and evolve as promised, they could render the need for custom enterprise coding and all of the engineers who specialize in it obsolete. Also, Byrne points out, “Iceberg and technologies like it could do for software and applications what MP3 did for music. Before MP3, it was a lot harder to rip off and share music. Software is very much the same thing. When you are able to clone applications infinitely faster than they were made, who owns them? What would the equivalent of the DMCA, whoever that might be, say about you cloning a really popular web application and releasing a copy of it the next day?”