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If you are working in another context and have been considering out of personal interest or necessity joining “the Enterprise,” here are a few things you should know:
(1) The enterprise is about meeting people’s needs as they already exist
Generally speaking, you don’t do any true B2C stuff in the enterprise, it is all B2B and built on top of existing products and stacks, so your chance to start something “from scratch” is virtually nil. Don’t try. No one cares. This generally also means heaps of integration with existing business processes, software products, etc.
(2) Your users are not you
I’ve seen this problem come up a number of times, but most of the time the people using the product you will be building are very different from you and have a very different set of problems. You either need to understand these problems yourself or get used to working with someone who does.
(3) The enterprise is about money
Money is needed to live and is, generally speaking, the standard by which everything is measured in the enterprise. And by everything, I mean everything. Your cool widget isn’t worth anything to anybody unless it makes someone money. There is a certain reasonably large amount of bullshit eliminated this way.
(3) The enterprise has money
You don’t have to worry (or at least you have to worry less) about people with their latest greatest idea wanting you to implement their idea for time with their cat. I like cats, but I also like to get paid. This is one of the main reasons why people end up in the enterprise.
(4) Your tools are what you are given
Since you are working on top of someone else’s stack, generally you are stuck with whatever they provide. This can really suck. Unfortunately, due to No. 3, probably no one cares much about creating new tools for you to work with, since this costs them time and they can’t figure out why they should give you anything more than you need.
(5) You will be forced to drink kool-aid
Marketing, frequently involving technologies which are poorly-defined and do not exist, is the lifeblood of “innovation” in the enterprise. Generally speaking, this involves putting a vague concept out there and contrasting your awesome vague concept with the “conservative” parties that are just selling the same old sauce instead of your new sauce. The implication of this, is that if you are in the periphery, you are more or less forced to become a cheerleader. Although waving pom-poms can be nice (well, depends on who is doing this, do not click on this link), it can go to your head. Generally speaking, this sluicy juice does make people a bit crazy, so you have to watch out.
Generally speaking, you should be aware of all of these things before starting. The enterprise can introduce you to a lot of people with interesting needs in a variety of industry sectors (I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of very large and interesting corporations) without a lot of bullshit you might deal with if you are limited to small and mid-size companies and deals. The unfortunate consequence is that you will probably move far away from B2C solutions, which can be a better way to improve your skills as in many circumstances you are forced to be much more competitive when working on a product which, generally speaking, must iterate much more rapidly.
In the end, if you stay in the enterprise with the attempt to be as “good” as you can, you will probably become awesome at doing a lot of things quickly, but will probably stop doing them all that well (the incentive structure generally emphasizes quantity of features but less frequently quality of experience, something which generally means that you need to care about your customers).