Last month, I attended a presentation in San Francisco by Steve Crawford, the managing vice president of software applications research at Gartner, entitled “Rethinking Enterprise Application Software.” Across all the major themes, one data point stood out to me: 75 percent of all businesses are expected to become digital businesses by 2020.
What is a digital business?
Before going any further, let’s be clear about what being a digital business actually means. I’m not talking about just any business that has a website or has rolled out a few mobile apps. A true digital business is one that creates a new business design that blurs the physical and digital worlds – which Gartner believes is different from companies like Uber and Airbnb that were created by optimizing business processes. A digital business creates new revenue streams and business models, changes the customer experience, and modernizes business processes. Oral-B for a great example of a company embracing that strategy.
Digital businesses require application modernization
Let’s get back to the fact that 75 percent of all businesses are expected to become digital businesses by 2020. This figure suggests that there will be significant changes to how enterprises do business over the next three to four years. And, given the topic of the presentation, applications will play a major role in this transition.
For many organizations, this means building more apps. Eighty-five percent of respondents to a Gartner survey said that they are leveraging (and building out) their internal development team to fulfill their digital business initiatives. But, herein lies the problem: employees are already inundated with too many applications, hindering their productivity and even causing them to disregard existing enterprise applications altogether due to their complexity. Not only do 62 percent of employees delay completing tasks that require logging into multiple systems, 65 percent of employees completely ignore data for making decisions when they must collect it from multiple systems.
Three focus areas for digital business applications
For organizations looking to become digital businesses, a core part of the strategy will be rethinking digital business applications and processes, both consumer-facing and employee-facing – given our vantage point, the latter is what I will focus on in this piece. For too long, enterprise software has been unwieldy, challenging to use, and headache-inducing for employees. Here are three recommendations from the presentation that highlight what companies should consider when developing applications:
- Focus on small, quick to develop apps: The most successful digital business applications are not complex. They perform simple tasks efficiently, are easy to use, and may likely only have a shelf-life for a brief period of time. But, it doesn’t matter as they can be created in minutes and tested and used in production to optimize workflows for an employee population in the same amount of time.
- Provide real time information: Digital businesses need real time data to make decisions. Unfortunately, with traditional enterprise apps, by the time information gets to employees, it is out of date. Therefore, it is no surprise that 91 percent of CIOs and IT professionals agree real-time data-analysis can have a positive impact upon a company’s bottom line. New business applications need to take this into account and look to provide a mechanism for up-to-the-minute information delivery.
- Make them interoperable: Business decisions are never made based on a single data point from a single application – they require information that is analyzed across multiple systems. IT organizations also continue to struggle to get systems to interoperate for basic tasks. Digital business applications must skip these traditional hurdles and be built with interoperability in mind. They must support data, tasks, and workflows from multiple systems and present information to employees in useful ways.
Steve’s presentation also included several other recommendations and data points that further justify how important these small, easy-to-create micro apps, like those enabled by Sapho, can be for creating modern workflows. Sapho micro apps allow businesses to create workflows that bring together various on-premises infrastructure and cloud-based systems, meaning no matter which systems your company is using, each employee gets the information they need delivered in an actionable and usable way.
As more businesses look to go digital, the development of digital applications will be a vital part of this transition. New applications should reduce employee headaches and weave together the tangled work processes that many employees are facing today. With the proliferation of applications that are already overwhelming today’s workforce, the best new applications will be simple, integrate with all existing enterprise systems, deliver real time information, and simplify the lives of users.
Take a look at how Sapho does just this!