Enterprise software is used by organizations for a multitude of functions and purposes: managing assets, handling orders and customer relations, storing data in databases, working with finances, and dealing with assets and resources.
This kind of product is slow to evolve since it's defined based on customer needs and those remain fairly static across companies from year to year. It's safe to say even over 20 years innovation has been minimal in the field, with the exception of running on faster hardware with more modern interfaces.
I recently spoke about enterprise software with Natalie Lambert, VP of marketing at Sapho and former analyst at Forrester Research, and she predicted we'll see these changes in the near future:
"With personalized apps, employees only receive information and tasks that are relevant to them," said Lambert. Personalization has the potential to save employees time by eliminating unnecessary interruptions.
For example, employees will only receive data about product lines they care about instead of logging into a dashboard and having to sort through a lot of irrelevant product data to find what matters to them. Similarly, instead of getting alerts when company-wide compliance training is due, an employee would only get alerts for the compliance training they have not yet completed.
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2. Improvements with machine learning
Enterprise software is also expected to become more intelligent by way of improved machine learning, which has matured to the state where it understands what information individual employees search for most frequently. Using this information, software can make informed decisions on behalf of employees and provide them with more relevant updates, saving them time and improving their productivity and effectiveness.
Machine learning can monitor how employees complete tasks or work with information that they use the most - or which other employees in similar roles engage with. It can then deliver more of that type of content to employees to ensure nothing is missed. It can also help with task completion by reminding employees how they have responded to similar requests in the past.
As machine learning gets more advanced, the possibilities on how it can augment employee intelligence by empowering them with tools that make them more capable and intelligent grow are expected to become quite expansive.
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3. Push notifications
In addition, the "push concept" is predicted to replace search functionality in enterprise software. "The process of searching for information has gotten so bad that the average employee wastes about 108 minutes each work day searching for required data," said Lambert. As an alternative, push technology can improve their productivity by notifying employees the moment an important system change occurs — even if it's something they don't typically check every day.
With push technology, employees are notified about important tasks, updates, news, policy changes, or general office information before they ever have to search for it. For example, an employee will receive a notification when someone on their team needs a PO signed or when an office is closed due to bad weather. In either case, there is no need for the employee to log in to a system to find this information themselves.
As push computing continues to advance, employees will have the information they need to make a decision at their fingertips without ever having to look for it.
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4. Omnichannel communication and task completion
Omnichannel apps will improve employee productivity by delivering information and workflows from various employee systems into the channel they're already using, such as to a messenger app, a browser, email, or any device.
For example, a service desk team can have new tickets get delivered to a team channel in Microsoft Teams so they can discuss and assign it to the most appropriate member or a new PTO request can be delivered to managers in their intranet or to their mobile device for quick completion.
Also, look for more workplace communication tools to become popular in 2018, such as Microsoft Teams or VMware Workspace ONE, and more traditional intranets to become the single place employees go to communicate, collaborate, receive information, and complete tasks.
- Report: Enterprise software isn't impressing users (TechRepublic)
- Software preservationists look ahead to enterprise focus (TechRepublic)
- How UX is Transforming Enterprise Software (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)
- Eight burning questions for enterprise technology in 2018 (ZDNet)
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.