The move to increased mobility and higher expectations is somewhat down to a change in the age of new employees coming into workplaces. Millennials have grown up with the internet – it is a ubiquitous resource in their daily lives; supporting their school work, research, job applications, personal entertainment and work support and guidance. Combined with an enterprise software industry that has remained relatively unchained over the past decade, and the conflict between expectations and delivery is ever more present.
Legacy Vendors vs Startups
Larger software vendors are failing to invest in redesigning their applications, merely adding functionality to their vast portfolios in a piecemeal fashion. Compared with startups who are designing user-friendly interfaces from the ground up, the gap between consumer software design over the past 24 months and legacy enterprise applications that are over 20 years old is widening. Many software vendors are now implementing cloud versions of their tools, yet these alterations have usually been done retrospectively and user interfaces are often not the primary defining feature of these newly launched tools.
And the generational issue goes beyond the user interface.
Millennials now expect to be able to interact socially with colleagues and collaborate in real-time, and many software products are being developed to address this need for social collaboration in the workplace, such as Yammer, which not only enables conversations via technology but can act as a knowledge hub where specialists can share insights and information with each other.
This change in expectations has meant that the enterprise market has really been opened up to software startups that previously used to battle with credibility issues when selling to large corporate customers, but can now differentiate themselves against the legacy enterprise application providers in the market.
Bring Your Own App
Tech savvy employees are no longer waiting for their company’s IT team to find a solution; they are solving the problems themselves by developing their own apps or code, or introducing applications they have found or use at home, to the workplace.
This is not a new phenomenon, in fact as far back as the 1980s, ‘bring your own app’ was a trend where workers would bring in their own spreadsheets and formulas developed at home to assist with day to day work activities.
Picture the situation. You ask your marketing department to design an e-newsletter that is going to be emailed out to prospects. The IT department previously installed a marketing application that includes a newsletter function, but it doesn’t track opens or personalise the emails – it just allows you to design a newsletter and send it en masse to an email list. Your Graduate Marketing Assistant tells you that the online e-shot tool, Mailchimp, might be a better (and potentially free) option that can help with tracking and analytics – and is available immediately to use. It will probably deliver more than your installed legacy product can do, however it is not a ‘company approved application’. What is the best course of action?
Application stores and exchanges
As a workforce we are all more technically savvy than ever before, and organisations are trying to channel this energy for ‘bring your own app’ into managed application stores, where users can go into a ‘store’ of pre-approved apps selected by their company and choose which ones they want to use.
It may be that a company offers a range of email clients that workers can choose from – after all, if it means the employee can do their job more productively on a technology platform they are familiar with then it makes sense for the company too.
As previously mentioned, Salesforce’s AppExchange application store is positioning itself as a hub for enterprise applications, all centred around the core CRM system. This not only drives integration between software products, encouraging developers to create plugins for their tools to help foster collaboration between applications, but also encourages a newer generation of developers to create applications at the enterprise level; with a clear route to consumers through the AppExchange.
Companies not using Salesforce’s AppExchange or another bespoke application store need to ensure that they have sufficient policies in place about how employees interact with personal applications in a work environment. This extends to what tasks the personal apps can be used to deliver, and also what data can be processed by these applications. For example, a CFO would not want his staff exporting confidential financial data to an employee’s mobile device to review within a personal application that may store all data in a public cloud storage service.
If you are interested in knowing more about the consumerisation of enterprise applications then read our whitepaper on “The Consumerisation of Enterprise Applications”.