By Nico Mulder (Entelect, Delivery Manager)
This year is likely to be another revolutionary year in the enterprise software space. Underpinned by trends ranging from cognitive technologies to machine learning, we can expect to see businesses shift to building consumer-centric software solutions with an increased focus on user experience. Enterprises have started to recognise they can gain operational advantages from applying consumer offerings internally.
Typically, enterprise software development responds to software needs in a B2B environment, but this has constrained thinking for software innovation. While companies use technology trends such as chat bots to improve their external and consumer facing initiatives, they have overlooked the advantages these kinds of approaches can have on their internal operations.
As such, much of what we saw in 2017 will continue to progress; Agile development, Mobility and Custom software development. But two core driving forces behind these trends for 2018 will be the renewed focus on user experience within enterprises mimicking consumer offerings.
Why enterprises will start to mimic consumer offerings
Until recently, CRM software was all pushed to the cloud, simply because it seemed to be the ideal environment for so much data. Companies were so focussed on their operations, they lost sight of the consumer side. But with more millennials coming into the workforce, this is changing. Millennials operate in a world where their entire lives are optimised. They expect this of their employers and working environments too. And importantly, companies have realised that applying more UX thinking to their enterprise solutions will improve operational efficiencies.
Enterprise Software used to dictate how the software works and the usability. It wasn’t built for the end-user, but built to service the business and variances of a business process. The employee had to perform a job, and the software enabled them to do so, irrespective of the user experience.
In the past, business objectives driving consumer offerings have typically been; to improve customer experience, to optimize the user journey, or to optimise offerings to the customer. But companies are starting to ask the question – what if we apply this thinking to our employees and their operations? Suddenly the objectives become; to improve employee experience, to optimise the employee journey, or to optimise the offerings to the employee. This can all lead to improved internal efficiencies and productivity.
Consequently, businesses will start to create internal systems that not only reflect consumer offerings, but also have a high user experience factor, to enable quick adoption and improved productivity.
Mobile CRM platforms are a great example of the ways modern enterprise software is starting to mimic consumer offerings for operational advantages. Real-time collaboration on any device is becoming a more important for productivity. Most jobs require teamwork and communication and tools that enable this are going to put businesses at an advantage.
Unfortunately, while trends like Mobility are on the rise in terms of mimicking consumer offerings, it won’t yet stretch as far as applied use of social media. In fact, social media within enterprise software hasn't taken off as much as one would like. Yes, corporates are improving their social interactions and employee experience within the company, but enterprise software doesn't yet leverage the impact and insights of social media as much as it can.
So what are the technology trends that are going to underpin this shift for enterprises in 2018?
Agile, Digital Transformation within the corporate environment. This transformation is rapidly transforming and driving enterprise software towards consumerism. CIO's and CTO's are becoming more closely involved with the design of products and systems, ensuring the build and roll out is done within an Agile environment.
Less offshore development and more in-house capability and re-use of ‘Software as a Service’ is starting to infiltrate and customize enterprise software.
Custom Software development for enterprise software. Replacing and moving away from off-the-shelf products, which require a high degree of integration and customization and don’t focus on user experience.
Cognitive technologies focused on Product, Process, and Insight will have a massive spike in the user experience initiatives which haven’t been adopted yet. Overall, Cognitive Technologies encourage a greater use of the existing services and streamline continuous feedback and information gathering.
Lower infrastructure costs achieved through more efficient utilization of IT resources, and an increase in capacity to handle peak demands. The use of Containerisation will definitely increase in 2018.
AI and Machine Learning will become a mandatory business aspect with the rise of chatbots and business bots automating various features and customer self-service portals. We’ve already seen this in the past years but expect to see the trend continue in 2018.
Mobility will play a big factor in the enterprise software space, as the need to improve UX for employee productivity will be a necessity. Some businesses, in the agricultural and healthcare industries have started making this move, but in 2018, we can expect to see businesses in other industries such as automotive and short-term insurance, which will recognise the advantages of having a mobility solution built-in for their teams.
Needless to say, 2018 will definitely be another groundbreaking year, trying to play catch up with renewed and improved technological companies. Companies wishing to attract the best talent will be seeking to improve their employee experience by mimicking consumer offerings. The extent to which the seven tech trends will impact the move to consumer offerings and UX is yet to be seen, but suffice to say, we can expect them to be key features to some degree or another.