by Thomas Wailgum

Have You Got Software Hairball Syndrome?

Oct 08, 2010
Enterprise Applications

A new NetSuite video makes light of a very serious problem: The tangled mess of software and systems in IT's back office.

You’re probably sitting there thinking: Software Hairball Syndrome? That’ll never happen to me.

Watch this short video from cloud apps vendor NetSuite (be sure to stick around for the customer testimonials, especially for the “f” bomb), and then let’s talk:

Software Hairball Syndrome

Are you afflicted by SHS?

OK, OK. Accuse me of giving NetSuite free publicity if you want, but I bet the mock advertisement hits close to home for many of you.

NetSuite calls it Software Hairball Syndrome, or SHS: “A common business affliction in which software applications like ERP and CRM are strung together in a tangled integration that functions so poorly it chokes the organization it was intended to help.”

This disease troubles too many back-office IT environments: Symptoms include complex, cobbled together beasts of systems, applications and middleware packages that simply cannot bridge corporate silos of software.

That kind of technological inflexibility will give any IT shop a bad name.

I’m not saying NetSuite is the cure-all for your application woes. The product is, in fact, not for large enterprises that have environments on orders of magnitude higher than those of NetSuite’s target audience: SMBs that are too small to already have that much back-end complexity in their finance, administrative and sales applications. (For fun, contrast NetSuite’s spot with SAP’s recently launched Run Better campaign and just think of the hairballs in those giant IT environments.)

The implicit messaging in the NetSuite video, however, is refreshing and clear. (Not so sure about the digs, though.) The marketing collateral on the site, which offers real-life SHS testimonials, should resonate with potential customers. (Let’s face it: These types of vendor “customer success” stories can be painful to read, and NetSuite’s case studies at least offer plenty of carnage.)

As I’ve written before, there’s a time and place for humor in enterprise software marketing, and NetSuite’s SHS spot gets two thumbs up from me.

Though now I feel very afraid to cough.

Thomas Wailgum covers Enterprise Software, Data Management and Personal Productivity Apps for Follow him on Twitter @twailgum. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. E-mail Thomas at