I have always been interested in creating software that either is the foundation to easily meet a corporate need or makes making software easier. For example, a shopping cart to integrate into any web application or a tool for optimizing the software development process, respectively.
I thought I would brainstorm some areas of the former. The hope will be to narrow where gaps exist in the market.
For starters, what are the web needs of the typical business? They probably fall into these categories:
- Informative Website
I think I will step through each of these. I am pulling this from memory, so nothing formal at this stage.
Any business has some form of an informative website. They range from Berkshire Hathaway’s 1994-style site to very complex.
From the software side, this lower market seems tapped. A general CMS will meet the needs for anybody. Everybody and their brother does web skinning and CMS customization for basic informative sites. Additionally, I would call these websites not web apps so not interested. The middle market seems tapped as well. There are software packages to assist these slightly more advanced sites. Think of Wordpress for blogging or DotNetNuke for advanced features. So how about the high end (enterprise) market? Image a CMS behind an online newspaper, magazine, or advanced forum.
I think I will leave that question open for now.
You might also call this collaboration. Consider email, chat options, word processing, etc as examples of this section. Google Apps and Office Live, among many others, may not make this area full, but it will make it very competitive.
Entering this section is going to vastly competitive. Highly niche products and services may succeed.
Custom development obviously fits into this category. Many organizations will build these in-house (Google). Others outsource (eBay – rumored, do not quote me). There are options for many custom development firms. I am more curious in making a tool in a specific market to make these sites easier. Ning did this with social networks – supposedly. Additionally, coming up with a fresh idea would be fun.
Options are definitely available.
Some may also call this the company intranet or portal. I am going to group these into a single category. A company may have a project management system, ERP, document management system, hr/payroll processing, and many many more. There are a myriad of options here. Some systems combine all these processes. Some industries have off the shelf tools to aid those companies. Higher Education has Banner. Construction has Viewpoint.
More research is needed in this area.
Integration is a rather ambiguous category. I am going to call it anything that either combines two or more of the above categories or converts a legacy system into a new system.
I would say this market is very open if you know integrating X with Y does not have competition. Finding X and Y will be the challenge.
Some final thoughts…
It may seem there are some availabilities in the market. The high end versions of an Informational Website will need more research. I think I will stay out of the Productivity section – too much competition. I love products, so Products/Services is not out of line. This area requires an idea. Infrastructure, similar to Productivity, is a huge market with many competitors. More research will need to be done here too. I am not going to remove Integration from any list either.
And now, I read and talk to people and, well, research. Anybody have any thoughts?