The three big technologies impacting the enterprise in the near future are mobile, social, and cloud. These have all, of course, been around for a few years, but they are finally reaching the maturity required for enterprise robustness and scale.
In the mobile space, the community has standardized on iOS and Android (much to the chagrin of early leader Blackberry/RIM). More companies are comfortable with Bring-Your-Own-Device policies or have an enterprise wrapper such as Good to harmonize security policy. A decade ago, we entered into the world where you were expected to be able to answer a work call or email at any time, because you had a cell phone. Now, mobile access to systems and data is going to push us towards a norm of 24-7 “complete responses.” No more one-line “I will look that up in the morning” responses from a phone. Instead, we will be able to access enterprise systems seamlessly regardless of platform or form-factor. Development platforms that enable simultaneous construction of mobile and web/desktop interfaces will also become the norm, as no application should be limited to a single client device type. Today’s users, frequently use tablets in the field as opposed to the old-world pattern of the user as an assembly-line worker chained to a desktop. A mobile user can much more effectively interact with the customers, suppliers, other workers, assets, and other entities that business systems are all about. Real-time interaction generally results in better data and faster visibility throughout the organization, both core components of Return on Investment. With the rise of larger phones, tablets, and the HTML5 standard, using the web version of an application from a mobile device has become an acceptable alternative to building a specific, native mobile version, but doing so generally compromises usability.
On the social front, citizens of the Millennial and X generations have become accustomed to their personal software supporting feed-based interaction. Every object supports commenting, tagging, filtering, etc. Images, video, and text are all intermingled seamlessly. A user can follow hundreds of contacts by exerting only a few minutes a day of scrolling through updates, and mobile technology makes it easy to take these few minutes whenever downtime emerges. Enterprise systems are still fairly locked into the old paradigm of forms, reports, using email for less structured communication. As these systems are refactored to use a social interface, users will get the same interaction their personal software has led them to expect. A sales executive can follow updates to a pipeline, events for when a demo was performed, and collaboration points with the contracts team the way he or she would follow streams of social events. It can even be done while walking through an airport. The social posts made by both system and human actors become part of the audit trail of the records they are associated with, minimizing the dreaded searching of emails that often becomes a poor substitute for this functionality.
Finally, the cloud has reached a level of security and maturity that is acceptable to the vast majority of businesses, crossing the chasm from “bleeding-edge advantage” to “expected infrastructure.” Certifications give businesses comfort that data will be secured and backed up. The price point has continued to fall, to the point where hosting servers in a private data center is no longer competitive with the economies of scale of the cloud. Budgets can easily be set to gear more towards the operating expense model of cloud offerings as a service than the cap-ex model of building and hosting in a proprietary data center. Customers expect the ease of use and uptime of cloud-based systems. Additionally, since few enterprise systems exist in vacuum, modern standards greatly facilitate integration among an organization’s cloud-based systems, including integrations with systems maintained by partners, suppliers, and even customers. Enterprise technology vendors are simplifying deployment, maintenance, and procurement with a range of PaaS and SaaS offerings, simplifying the adoption of cloud technology.
Macedon Technologies is an Appian reseller and services partner. We build all of our systems around mobile, social, and cloud architecture. Whether the paradigm is workflow automation, case management, integration with end-user visibility, document management and routing, or just a general-purpose enterprise system, we use these maturing technologies as the foundations of 21st-century enterprise systems.
CEO , Macedon Technologies