It’s easy to say that enterprise software has made great strides. After all, it’s hard not to marvel at the progress that’s been made over the last several decades, as businesses have transitioned from using paper and pencil to programs in the cloud in order to manage their operations.
But if we take a closer look at more recent technological progress, we realize that the movement from on-premise to off-premise was the last major transition in enterprise software. No true transformation has occurred since then. And new data suggests that the current lapse in further innovation in the enterprise software space has resulted in significant consequences for today’s businesses.
In fact, while the migration to the “cloud” in the form of subscription-based software (SaaS) made big software more affordable and accessible by overcoming distribution and financial hurdles, it did very little to address the fundamental end-user challenges.
It’s not just a matter of waiting for the next wave of innovation to make life a little easier for businesses. According to a recent survey of over 500 business and IT executives by my company, TrackVia, the absence of progress with current enterprise software is having a negative impact on businesses. Worse, it’s cited as preventing company growth.
The survey revealed that traditional enterprise software -- whether installed on local servers or delivered via the internet -- lacks the capabilities they say they need most, and illustrates the four ways that today’s enterprise software is failing businesses.
1. Few options for customization and scalability
Inflexibility and an overall lack of adaptability was one of the top software challenges cited by executives. Current enterprise software solutions offer few options to customize or tailor applications to the unique needs of different businesses. Businesses need the ability to easily and quickly change, modify and scale software as they grow and their operations evolve. The inability to do this was also cited as a major frustration.
These rigid limitations are having a negative impact on how businesses operate. In fact, more than four out of five (82 percent) executives claim they’ve had to change the way their business operates to match their enterprise software.
This lack of customization is forcing organizations to rip out and replace legacy systems, as they struggle to find a solution that is more capable of meeting their needs. Seventy-six percent say they’ve switched software programs because they needed updates or customizations made that their vendor could not execute or the software itself could not accommodate. Unsurprisingly, the time, money and resources wasted as a result of this reality only continues to fuel the growing discontent among company leaders.
2. A lack of mobile functionality
The promise of off-premise software was accessibility. Businesses without the resources of behemoth enterprises could gain access to the applications that could power their business and allow it to run more efficiently.
But the rise of mobile means the world has changed dramatically since off-premise software first arrived. Business doesn’t just take place in an office, at a desk or even from 9 to 5 each weekday. With a growing mobile workforce, companies simply need a way to enable productive work, regardless of where employees are physically located.
That means there’s a new expectation for accessibility, and it’s not just having access to software -- it’s the ability to access it anywhere, anytime, with or without an internet connection. Furthermore, native mobile features that elevate remote work, such as offline mode, signature capture, geo-location tags, barcode scanning, picture taking and the like, are becoming the new standard for enterprise mobile apps.
We found that 65 percent of executives said a lack of mobile functionality made it difficult for them to use their software programs. In today’s digital age, the demand for software that provides sophisticated mobile capabilities does not seem to be going away anytime soon.
3. Limited integration and compatibility
The ubiquity and accessibility of cloud and SaaS solutions is becoming a double-edged sword for some businesses. On the upside, there are more software solutions than ever before to power businesses. But the downside is that executives say disparate and disconnected solutions are creating their own challenges.
A lack of integration and compatibility with other software and applications is one of the top challenges of enterprise software. Siloed information and disjointed processes are quickly becoming a thorn in the side of enterprises of all sizes.
4. Negatively impacting growth
This disconnect between end-user needs and the enterprise software would all be a moot point if it didn’t have a material effect on day-to-day operations or overall business success. But the data suggests the impact is real.
Two in three respondents (66 percent) said the limitations of their enterprise software have negatively affected their company’s growth. Take a second, and let that sink in.
This lack of progress in enterprise software means the software that’s designed to power businesses is actually hindering it.
An emerging solution
A big part of the overall problems with enterprise software may lie in the fact that it’s usually designed and built by non-users for a generic use case. But as everyone knows, no two businesses operate alike.
But all hope is not lost. The cure for what ails both end-users and developers is emerging, and already addressing many of these challenges.
Like Amazon Web Services did for infrastructure or WordPress did for building websites, a new generation of low-code application platforms aims to flip the enterprise software paradigm. Low-code technology promises to simplify and speed up application creation, configuration, integration and deployment for enterprise software by replacing the need to write thousands of lines of complex code with drag-and-drop functionality and intuitive, visual features.
Due to their unique capabilities, low-code platforms are catching on with savvy executives. Data revealed that 29 percent are already using low-code systems, and another 43 percent are considering them. Technology analyst firm Forrester Research projects the low-code application market to grow from nearly $3 billion today to $15 billion by 2020.
Plus, many low-code users say it’s already addressing some of the shortcomings of traditional enterprise software systems.
What the future holds for enterprise software is anyone’s guess. But it’s clear that user expectations are rising and the traditional enterprise software market is struggling to keep up with businesses’ growing demand for faster, more agile and mobile solutions. A new approach is inevitable and likely just on the horizon.