Simply put, enterprise software is software developed for organizations, rather than individuals. In the early days of computers all software was for enterprises, as only very large organizations owned computers. In the 1980’s, personal computers arrived, spawning a proliferation of software for individuals. Then in the 1990’s the internet hit the scene, completely changing the way that software is deployed and used. Today, many people think of most software applications (including mobile apps) as being directed at consumers, and yet enterprise remains the largest segment in the software business, with Forrester estimating over $420 billion to be spent on it in 2018.
Like any other part of the IT sector, enterprise software has gone through many waves, from the early days of IBM mainframes and punch cards, to SaaS giants of today such as Salesforce.
But let’s look at what we see as trends for 2018 in enterprise software:
Bespoke is Back.Historically, having custom enterprise software applications developed for your organization was very, very expensive. Often a 7-figure investment for the custom development, plus training your organization to use the custom software and plus an entire internal group dedicated to supporting it. Today, the cost of building fully-custom enterprise software is a fraction of what it once was, because of the dramatic drop in the cost of infrastructure (AWS, MS Azure, Google Cloud Platform etc.) and the dramatic increase in the power of tools available to software development teams.
Open Source provides the power of ten thousand. 10 years ago, vendors selling proprietary systems were using the FUD methodology to convince IT managers that it was dangerous to use free open-source technologies of any kind. Today, that argument has been turned upside down as open source has become the standard, rather than the exception. 78% of companies today use open source software, and millions of open source projects are available on GitHub, allowing a single developer to leverage the work of thousands in quickly and efficiently building enterprise software applications using battle-tested open source projects.
UX drives success. Bad UX drives failure.Enterprise software used to be infamous for often having an interface that only an engineer’s mother could love. Users often complained about non-intuitive interfaces, and yet organizations forced them upon their employees. Today there is broad consensus that a key factor for success in enterprise software is employee adoption - and those employees are used to the user experience that they get on consumer platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. This raising of the bar means that the expectations for the user experience of enterprise software are higher than ever (and the good news is that modern front-end frameworks make it easier than ever to deliver this).
We live in an agile world.For organizations around the world today, speed and agility have become crucial keys to success in operating in the 21st Century. So running a company on inflexible enterprise software applications is simply not an option. This means that any enterprise software needs to be built from the ground-up to support rapid iterations and on-the-fly updates and feature expansions. You can’t wait six months for a new feature - you need an enterprise software application upon which new features can be added quickly and efficiently.
These are just a few of the trends that we see in the year ahead for enterprise software. Many analysts are predicting that 2018 will be the year of “digital transformation” as companies around the world work to transform their organizations to be more digital in every aspect of their organizations are they compete with more agile “native digital” startups in their sector. Enterprise software has driven growth for corporations of all kinds the past couple of decades, and we can expect that to be doubly-true in the years ahead.