Enterprise software is in the midst of a revolution. In the early 2000s, businesses were the primary users of technology, and they set the rules for how it should be built. The result was clunky, feature-rich software that no one apart from a few power users knew how to use.
Fast-forward 15 years.
Today, everyone’s a power user. 2014 was all about the “consumerization” of enterprise software – software companies redefining the user experience to make technology more closely resemble consumer applications. This will only continue in this year as developers move away from a purely utilitarian approach to creating software that’s more intuitive, more user-friendly and able to cater to users’ changing needs.
Today, enterprise technology consumers are looking for the following.
1. A consistent user experience at work and at home
One of the biggest trends in software use is the blurring line between which tools are for work and which are for personal use. Applications such as Evernote and Dropbox now span people’s professional and personal lives. Many even use the same account for work and home.
This has created the need for a consistent user interface that seamlessly transitions from one place to another. However, this trend leaves businesses vulnerable and creates the need for additional security layers to prevent the unauthorized sharing of company information.
2. Real-time collaboration on any device
Most jobs require teamwork, which is made increasingly difficult by the ever-growing remote workforce. A number of developers are trying to streamline workflows for distributed teams, with mixed results.
Google Docs has virtually replaced Microsoft Office by allowing multiple users to access files from anywhere, while eXo Platform takes it one step further by helping users collaborate on a network by sharing documents, tasks and other information.
While companies are making great strides in collaborative tools for desktop, mobile still lags behind. Last year, mobile exceeded PC Internet usage for the first time ever. In 2015, more people are going to start using their personal mobile devices as supplementary – if not primary – work tools.
Slack has responded to this trend by taking over enterprise communication with a real-time mobile chat tool to accompany its desktop offering. But we need more solutions to help companies leverage data in real time to stay ahead of the competition.
3. Optimization through information sharing
The consumer world is seeing an explosion in popularity among sites such as Quora and Yelp, which allow consumers to benefit from someone else’s experiences. Corporations are now recognizing the potential of similar tools for business, such as leveraging other people’s knowledge for customer support or employee training.
The natural evolution of collective knowledge on the web will be for enterprise software companies to develop solutions to make knowledge sharing more efficient with a clear management dashboard, tracking capabilities and increased collaboration around institutional knowledge. Jive Software has been pioneering collaboration within enterprises and measuring improvements in efficiency, but it’s still lacking extensions that focus on ROI.
4. Frictionless customer-facing systems
Within an enterprise, systems that employees use are often different from the customer-facing system. As a result, organizations are plagued by long wait times, complex interfaces and customer service representatives who are often unable to sync their applications with the customer’s user interface. Software companies need to focus on developing enterprise-level tools that work both internally and externally to remove customer barriers and friction points.
Gone are the days of employees putting up with unwieldy enterprise software with too many features. Today, they’re bringing their own software into the workplace, which means enterprise software needs to mimic these simple, easy-to-use tools as much as possible. 2014 was all about the consumerization of technology, but 2015 will be the year of seamless collaboration, easy knowledge sharing and a beautiful experience across every device.