8/19/2019 3:48:28 PM
The relationship between users and organizations in enterprise software is changing. Purchasers of IT should understand the shift, and developers should make conscious design decisions in light of it.
As a salesperson, your Salesforce.com account belongs to your employer; you cannot take it with you when you leave for another job. Historically, enterprise software user accounts existed entirely within the scope of a single employer; Salesforce.com is one such example. Software sold on a per-seat, license-maintenance revenue model is almost entirely structured in this way. We’ll call this the ownership model.
Now, however, a new model is emerging. Unlike in the ownership model, enterprise software user accounts have the potential to outlast any single job. Instead, individuals maintain their own unilateral relationships with enterprise software providers while adopting a more temporary relationship with employers. Examples here include Dropbox, Github and even LinkedIn. For Github, individuals create a single account, which they own indefinitely, regardless of which organizations (employers, open source projects, etc.) they may join and depart over time. We’ll call this the membership model, in which users of enterprise IT interact with employers in much the same way as Facebook users interact with Groups.
For a great example of the membership model in the while, take Github’s explanation of its own model:
This example is largely representative of the membership model in general.
Visually, you can think of the two models as follows:
In the ownership model, users cannot exist without a link to a single organization, whereas in the membership model they may create and sever links at will. We can think of this linking dimension as follows:
To recap, in the traditional model, organizations may have many user accounts but each user account may only belong to one organization. In the membership model, however, users may belong to several organizations. Users who belong to multiple organizations have a separate user account for each in the traditional model, but share a single account across the organizations to which they belong in the membership model.
The emergence of the membership model has been driven by a mix of interrelated factors, a few of which include:
Thus, the membership model is a natural outgrowth of broader trends in enterprise IT and software in general. Should trends in enterprise IT continue, we should expect the membership model to become more prevalent across enterprise offerings with time.
As a result, those developing software for the enterprise should consider the following when adopting a membership model:
I believe the membership model will become increasingly prevalent in the enterprise, and developers would do well to begin grappling with the opportunities and challenges it presents.
Note: This blog post was heavily inspired by another blog post on Github’s organization model which, for the life of me, I have not been able to re-find. If you know it, please comment below and I will add a link here.
8/19/2019 3:48:28 PM
1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM