From the Inside September/October 2018
Gone are the days when your IT team was the only ones in the office who knew how to use technology. This change in tech aptitude has changed the approach to enterprise software. While that space has historically been quite slow to evolve, 2019 is set to bring about a shake-up to the status quo. Most of our companies seem to be struggling with where to go and what to do to keep relevant in the changing business world.
I've compiled a few trends that will likely continue to see getting more significant in 2019.
#1 Smart Enterprise Software
Your business software already has tons of "smarts" built into them, but your enterprise has taken much of it for granted. Many times changing columnar reports into dashboards or adding simple push notifications will turn a bland enterprise system into something that acts like a Smart Enterprise System.
The next step to producing smart systems is to introduce some form of AI or Machine Learning tools into our system. How and why is not always straight forward, but with many systems, using the new predictive inventory or sales models is a good starting point. We had a session on predictive inventory at the most recent International Spectrum Conference.
#2 User Experience
I've discussed User Experience (UX) for many years as a form modernization. The point of UX is to provide more efficient and productive output and input to the enterprise system. This results in a better customer experience because employees can quickly and efficiently do their work. Unfortunately, we seem to focus on GUI-as-UI and ignore the importance of integration. Good UX is end-to-end.
UX has waned a little over the last few years due to the complexity and cost of implementing it, but I've seen a renewed focus on UX in enterprise software. And the focus on UX is finally changing from "just build a GUI" to addressing the back-end issues.
The many users understand technology — and many more think they do — and that leads to DYI (Do It Yourself) happening outside of the IT department. Excel is a classic example of this. It is a two-edged sword. User-ownership of data is a good thing but inexperienced people guessing through data-relationships can lead to bad things.
Your job has become more social. We can't just deliver results, we need to talk to the users and bring them inside the tent. Chatting and communication (Microsoft Teams, Slack, many other tools) provide another way to improve UX without losing the tried and true Enterprise system.
More and more enterprises are starting to recognize that automation can have a positive impact on user experience. Enterprise Software should aim to automate the entire business process. Instead, we often create islands of automation.
These were typical in the past. Humans were the only bridge over the gaps between different bits and pieces of information. Traditionally, customers would talk to employees who could capture necessary information on internal systems.
But now we want customers to interact directly with the business via software, websites, mobile apps, and digital assistants. This makes processes quick and simple for customers who want to get on with their lives. It also means that we have to make sure that nothing is lost in the transition.
#4 Cloud and Hybrid-Cloud
Cloud has always been described as a platform for the next generation of business. It is here to stay, and many companies are finding increased benefits. Many are not be interested in placing their entire enterprise in a Public Cloud Datacenter.
Parts of the enterprise will go to the Cloud, but other parts like real-time and business critical systems will stay on-premise. This Hybrid-Cloud approach will become more and more common. The need to have these systems communicate with each will add an additional complexity to your already integrated systems, but will open doors to many other features that aren't currently available to on-premise only enterprise systems.
Modern enterprise solutions and apps need to be as good as the apps people already use and love, which is quite a departure from the average enterprise system in the wild today.