Success revolves around ensuring excellent customer service and by delivering what the customer wants as quickly and efficiently as possible. Businesses are changing the way they operate across processes, people and systems.
As such approaches to enterprise technology, both vendor and customer, have changed dramatically, and the type of technology is unrecognisable from what was sold just five years ago.
This enterprise tech rebirth will continue in 2018 with more and more organisations turning to bots, digital assistants, IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning to boost their people productivity and support customer service initiatives.
In parallel, organisations will need to align with disruptive innovations that have their roots in the sharing economy and P2P networks and adapt their transactional processes accordingly, for example blockchain and technologies that we don’t even know about yet.
All software in the cloud, mobility & IoT
Cloud, mobility and IoT have been talked about extensively for years as today’s disruptive technologies. Changing demographics are tearing down the last barriers of resistance (millennials that live and breathe cloud and mobility are already part of the workforce) and ultimately SaaS is becoming so pervasive that soon there won’t be a SaaS industry. All software will be delivered via the cloud independent of device.
Unbundling SaaS and marketplaces
We’ve seen the end of big monolith applications, and in 2018 we will see more organisations embracing smaller ‘micro services’ that seamlessly work together in providing business-outcomes, empowering solutions for the enterprise marketplace.
>See also: What is software?
These micro services will also fuel the need for digital Ecosystems and Marketplaces – like an enterprise app store similar to Apple’s App store or Android’s. Customers will integrate this with their own marketplace where users can select a wide variety of applications to use.
Artificial intelligence – educating bots
We’re already seeing AI entering the enterprise in the form of chatbots like Unit4’s Wanda, often in combination with a conversational interface. Both Microsoft and Google are in the process of weaving more artificial intelligence into their apps to help employees work more efficiently.
Using machine learning to aggregate vast amounts of data and convert this data into intelligence will lead us to the point where apps will prompt users to open files at certain times of the day for example, or propose meetings based on user’s tasks and habits. Next to that predictive analytics are already leading to unprecedented levels of automation within SaaS, streamlining the user process and boosting efficiency and accuracy.
In sales and marketing, managers and sales personnel will be able to spend less time prospecting, curating and inputting data and more time using their advanced “human” skills to sell and market.
While this ‘future’ is already a reality in some domains, it is acknowledged that bots and digital assistants in use today are still parochial and naïve to some extent. They require an education. On the job learning through machine learning and analytics technologies will see bots becoming much more useful over the next few years.
Business outcome management – Data-as-a-service (DaaS)
With more customers in SaaS and the volume of available data in cloud rapidly growing, companies will move away from user or transaction costing models and move into models where the actual increase in business value gets valued.
How does an organisation perform against peers, where are the differences, where can other micro services deliver extra value and is that perceived value really delivered? DaaS will deliver on the promise to get smarter in understanding processes and in strategy planning decisions over the next few years.
With the recent Petya and WannaCry attacks in mind, security (and privacy – GDPR) is of the utmost importance for enterprises. The assumption that on-premises enterprise systems are more secure than cloud is changing, as cloud security improves and international laws governing cyber security are implemented and enforced.
The security features provided in cloud environments are much more advanced, and most of the security capabilities are software-defined and easier to implement and manage. SaaS developers are quite literally rewriting the book on security and will continue to do so.
Network perimeter security is no longer enough, and having developers implementing security as code to detect and identify security threats, protect systems and help them recover from abnormal security events is absolutely essential these days.
Building out enterprise architectures
In today’s market, there are a relatively small number of companies that have a stronghold in the SaaS industry – especially the market for horizontal solutions – largely because they controlled closed platforms that prevented interoperability with the exception of a few chosen partners.
These platforms are already opening up and going forward, there will be increasing opportunities for more open platforms that integrate with a variety of complementary services.
A nice example is Microsoft’s focus on providing a platform, integrating machine learning, IoT smart operations and management and security that can be used in building solutions for customers.
Imagine a SaaS model in the future that is simply a blank browser, iPhone or Android device that can upload the precise software users want and need from companies they wish to work with, all completely customised.
Strong integration strategies, enabled by robust APIs connected to integration platform ecosystems, will be a major driver of SaaS growth (with the added benefit of faster and easier authentication through a single sign-on) as well as co-marketing opportunities between complementary solutions providers.
First mover advantage
There can be no doubt that right now is an exciting time for enterprise software which has not seen today’s level of innovation and digital advancement before. And what’s exciting is that this rebirth puts enterprise technology in a new light, that everyone can understand and get excited about.
Those organisations that take the plunge early to transform their business for the new services economy, taking advantage of the smart applications on offer, will get an opportunity to outperform the competition.
Sourced by Erick Bos, director Cloud Excellence, Unit4