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The State Of Enterprise Software In 2013
November 28, 2013
Writing about enterprise software in late 2013 is a difficult task. It’s difficult for a variety of reasons. First and possibly most importantly is what constitutes enterprise software has never been more vague.
In the simplest terms, enterprise software is any software application used in a business regardless of size. But for many, it’s a term that represents the applications used to run some of the largest businesses. Yet with an ever-expanding universe of data and devices, getting a holistic view of an enterprise’s IT, is a daunting task. Asking for a clear definition of what enterprise software is? Now that’s an even bigger challenge.
So what is enterprise software? Some will have you believe it’s on premise, its software installed on a server and hosted in data centre. It is something private, something you install, you administer, and most likely hate to use.
Interestingly, things are starting to change. Looking at the majority of new “enterprise” focused start-ups over the last few years and you’ll start to notice a trend. The Cloud is obvious, but so is componentization and good design. Back in the day, say 10 years ago, all that was required for an enterprise app was a basic interface. Many of these apps (they weren’t called apps) used featureless, default UI/UX provided by Microsoft’s Visual Basic, or worse. Today there is an expectation of a good user experience with frameworks likeTwitter’s Bootstrap used almost ubiquitously among new web based consumer and enterprise applications.
Nowhere was this more obvious then at Amazon Web Services’ recent reinvent conference in Las Vegas. During the event I had the opportunity to meet with a broad group of start-ups pitching the latest “Enterprise cloud software.” Although there was nothing I would describe as ground breaking, there was certainly a high level of graphic design and user experience engineered into the latest crop of up-starts. I was generally more surprised when a product looked bad than when it looked good. Of all the trends, good design was front and centre.
In terms of good design, a few companies in particular caught my eye. Jump Cloud which essentially is attempting to take a fairly un-sexy aspect of enterprise software, that of server management and apply an easy to use and visually appealing dashboard. Another company, DataDoghas taken a similar visual approach applied to the enterprise-monitoring sector using a very stylish interface.
Besides the fact these companies are providing software as hosted services, another thing these enterprise focused software companies share is an accessible, consumer oriented approach. It seems that in the new enterprise software landscape complicated no longer means hard to use. Moreover, no longer is there a clear line between what is or isn’t enterprise software. Some call it the consumerization of the enterprise, a growing tendency for new information technology to emerge first in the consumer market and then spread into business and government organizations.
Design and stylistic treatments aside, another trend is the use of component architectures where business functions, processes, organizations, supplier relationships and technology are seen as building blocks that can be reconfigured as needed to address a near real-time competitive landscape? Jonathan, Chief Technology Officer at Warner Music Group calls this a ‘Lego Brick’ approach to designing and implementing enterprise IT processes and the organizations that support them. In a popular blog post he outlines his rationale saying. “A new Component Architecture Model (CAM ) approach to IT infrastructure, applications and services will be required to ensure that IT can deliver what the business needs. The time between identifying a business need and delivering the required IT solution needs to become hours and days rather than months and years.”
Murray believes that most companies would consider the Composable Enterprise approach to enterprise software radical today. “And yet it’s difficult to imagine how more static approaches to business operations will survive in an increasingly dynamic and competitive global economy.”
So modern enterprises doesn’t only need to look good, be easy to use, it must “seamlessly aligned to enable fast, flexible response to a rapidly changing competitive landscapes.” Says Murray.
So what does enterprise software look like in 2013? Good design, computability and the ability to quickly adapt seem to be key components.
This article first appeared on Forbes.com and was written by Reuven Cohen of Citrix
Reuven Cohen leads Citrix’s (NASDAQ: CTXS) world wide advocacy efforts with a particular focus on increasing the volume, reach and influence of Citrix’s extensive portfolio of cloud solutions used by more than 260,000 customers and 100 million end users across the globe.