What makes an Enterprise app?
Some say that Enterprise apps are the ‘silver bullets’ of business, fulfilling all requirements and making progress easier to manage. They have certainly come a long way since they were referred to as ‘Information Systems Software’ back in the early 90’s. That title wasn’t the most desirable for non-tech businesses, who tended to relate it to the Silicon Valley geeks, with all their buzzwords.
By the way, the name ‘Enterprise’, with regards to the business world, actually came from…NCC-1701, the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. That’s just a throwaway, but Enterprise apps have transformed the way companies operate, manage data, and communicate. They are predictable, reliable, auditable and repeatable.
Every business, from one man bands to mega corporations, uses Enterprise apps in one form or another, and therefore almost every individual on this planet is affected by them. Heck, I guess I’m using one right now. So let’s take a look at what makes an Enterprise app, its uses and why you need them.
What is an Enterprise app?
As normal consumers, most of us don’t really notice a hiccup in a lifestyle app, but in the world of enterprise, this should never happen once an app has gone into production and delivery.
An Enterprise app is a precision-engineered product designed for a specific purpose in an organization, one that has undergone months of testing and quality assurance. It is non-dynamic, therefore it cannot be altered by the development team unless specifically requested by the end user, unlike consumer apps that can have their core libraries and code base changed whenever the developer deems it necessary.
Enterprise apps are driven by optimization and positive business outcomes, removing process inefficiencies and saving time and money. They are also designed to have robust security, end to end encryption, and scalability to meet the needs of future growth and advances in disruptive technology.
Types of enterprise apps
There are many different types of enterprise applications, and I will list some of them here, with a brief description of their uses.
Accounting and Billing
These types of applications handle client and internal business cash flow, effectively keeping track of all expenses and profitability.
An application that allows better decision making and forecasting, by aggregating known business data into easily understandable chunks, showing strengths and weaknesses in any given area.
Customer Relationship Management
CRM has a wide range of functions, from managing client information to making information available to customers and maintaining retention. After all, clients are the most important asset of any business, and should be well looked after.
Enterprise Resource Planning
Improving resource location and budgeting, this type of app will combine data from the finance, HR, marketing and inventory departments to provide a precise internal process.
Human Capital Management
With a rather sterile name, these types of applications are, in fact, vital to employee performance and productivity, supporting a strategy of change management, leadership development and employee engagement, which is key to retaining the best staff.
Having multiple systems in an organization leads to inconsistent or loss of data, making integration a ‘must-have’ requirement. These type of apps create a universal interface with streamlined data access.
As stated, data is the main resource of any company, and less-than-perfect storage creates unnecessary risks. In the case of power outages, system failures and black hat attacks, a viable backup storage solution must be in place and ready for swift deployment.
Some companies will need Supply Chain Management, Inventory Management and Point of Sale software bolted on to an Enterprise system, depending on what is being provided, manufactured or distributed. But for most, the list above should suffice.
What makes a great Enterprise app?
I could start with ‘on time, on budget, and it does what it says on the can’, but there is so much more to making a great app.
- A high level of security is an absolute must. Without a robust system, a company can lose trust, and find itself freefalling.
- Integration with all company systems, so that no single aspect is left dangling.
- Real-time updates — programs must guarantee a system response within specified guidelines, that appears to be immediate in human terms. Microseconds, in effect.
- App management covers the lifecycle of the app from cradle to grave, including all maintenance, version control and updates.
- UX — a friendly User Experience will allow staff to get to grips with the software without necessarily reading the whole manual or having lengthy training sessions. All people learn differently, and it is reasonable to expect that new software will have a learning curve, which can be mitigated by a good UX.
- Regular data analytics are vital for spotting possible concerns in the business, from supply to production, and everything in between.
- Scalability is necessary to meet growth requirements and to add new software as it appears.
- Finally, it should keep the target audience at the forefront. That’s the main reason why a company exists.
When do you need an Enterprise app?
The smallest sized businesses, from 1 to 1,000 staff, have an average of 22 custom enterprise apps each. Now, that’s an average, and the guy running his business from a shed in the back garden might only have one enterprise app, but he could be using more.
It’s a bit of a trick question. If a company is producing or reselling something, it will be using some form of enterprise application, whether free or paid. Free enterprise apps are open source and can be easily found online, they have communities and support, but they also offer paid memberships for more features. Most small businesses will be perfectly happy to use free versions, and upscale if the business demands it. Think of Google and expanding your cloud storage, or something like Odoo, who provide a free service with recruitment, resource, purchasing and detailed invoice management. Their paid version is nicely padded, costing $25-$30 per user per month.
Real life examples of successful Enterprise apps
- Amazon Web Services — AWS is designed to help lower IT costs, increase speed and be scalable.
- Microsoft365 — a productivity set that increases security, and combines cloud based services with traditional desktop software, known and trusted by millions.
- Slack — a communications system that allows people to work together in a secure environment.
- Jira — a work management asset that tracks software bugs and issues.
- Salesforce — a CRM platform that weaves sales, marketing and commerce together.
Those are my top five, for now — who knows what tomorrow will bring?