Enterprise software has never been so affordable or innovative. Yet the same issues that plagued traditional approaches to business software are alive and well.
Low user adoption, poor design and inadequate feature implementation have not disappeared. But thanks to the shifting approach to custom enterprise mobile apps and an array of device choices, such issues have potentially met their match.
Tablet units are shipping and growing "faster than PCs ever did," according to Internet trends guru Mary Meeker in her recent 2014 KPCB trends report. And smartphone adoption is showing no sign of dissipating.
Through powerful hardware and custom mobile apps that look and feel like they're straight from the appstore, the methods for building enterprise software is changing. If an enterprise hopes to extract the highest possible value from a new software implementation, they need to prioritize their approach to mobile.
By emulating the top mobile apps and consumerized software offerings on the market, enterprises can extract the most value possible from their software investments.
Companies like Box, Workday, Salesforce and Dropbox represent a fundamental shift in the enterprise software industry. These new-comers are marked by consumer friendly design, mobile apps and a software as a service (SaaS) model for distribution. This fleet of innovative startups serve as an ideal guiding light for enterprises.
Not only are these successful enterprise software players offering mobile experiences, mobile is a cornerstone to their entire approach. Salesforce boasts a fully functional iPhone app that incorporates every feature accessed through a desktop. And Workday delivers updates and custom versions of their applications directly to employee smartphones within hours.
Prior to investing heavily in a mobile enterprise software project, leadership must survey the disruptive forces in the industry. And, at this moment, there is nothing more disruptive than mobile.
Mobile is the New Benchmark
Advances in mobile computing have directly contributed to the trending approach to enterprise software. Lightweight apps that are easy to upgrade. Consumer influenced design to minimize usability issues. And even the incorporation of custom app stores for distributing apps to workers.
Overall, mobile has had the largest impact on enterprise software than anything in the last couple of decades.
The epitome of business software, Microsoft Office, has officially been released for iPads. And Apple is reinvigorating its enterprise division to capitalize on the majority share that iOS boasts when it comes to enterprise mobile app deployment. Mobile apps have also had a direct impact on the approach to designing user interfaces (UI) and user experiences (UX) for enterprise apps.
Mobile app designers have had a tremendous impact on software in general. Designers that have refined approaches to creating interfaces for touch screens, have had a direct influence on the approach to web applications and websites as well. Larger buttons to accommodate fingertips as well as the move towards flat design have sprung directly from mobile apps and platforms.
And now that mobile app designers have acclimated themselves, their approaches are extending to desktop software and web applications.
Business Software Evolution
The average smartphone user spends dozens of hours every week interacting with the latest mobile apps. Updating, uninstalling and discovering bugs in software are, for the first time ever, common terms to everyday people in 2014.
This is a complete shift from previous PC dominated generations, where only a dedicated few were experimenting with different types of software extensively. Most were completely satisfied with off-the-shelf software and basic stock applications.
In the past, we didn't have the luxury of picking and choosing our software offerings. Software was expensive. You had to drive to a location or have it shipped to your house. Installation took hours. And maintenance or troubleshooting required an entire afternoon. But now that we live in the world of apps, software has become a new beast entirely.
Now that the most people have a legitimate frame of reference for quality software thanks to mobile, enterprises must build applications with a mobile-first mindset. By creating software that resembles the ease of use and design of mobile apps, enterprises will increase user adoption and ensure that productivity and efficiency goals are achieved.