The Future of Business Software: Versatility is King

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I’ve been discussing the future of business software and the tools that are enabling the growing influence and role of Citizen Developers. We’ve talked about the speed with which apps will be built and deployed, the shift to zero code platforms, and the demand for specialized software and applications that fit business users’ needs. While important, they matter little if the application can’t or doesn’t solve the business challenge. The future of business software demands greater versatility to allow users to accomplish tasks seamlessly. If speed, ease and no code were princes, versatility would be king.  

Can your business software pass the versatility test?

Flexibility and versatility are often the keys to business success. That’s because, as everyone knows, no two businesses are exactly alike.  Even branch offices within the same franchise do things a little different. So it only makes sense that the same should apply to the applications that power the way we do business. The great thing about having a versatile, highly customizable business software application is that you have the ability to make it fit across different categories and adapt to many different situations. Moreover, the importance of versatility increases over time. I’ve never worked in a job where the processes, workflow and objectives stayed stagnant. A business software application that is versatile is essential to meet your business’ demands today and tomorrow. 

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I’ve talked before about the case of CRM applications, because it’s one of the more common applications across almost any industry. In addition to needing to customize or modify your CRM software to work the way you do, you may also need to connect it to other business software applications that manage ticketing systems, product development and other functions. These applications should only be separated by permissions and user access, not data collection, workflow and reporting. Hell, most people need information from multiple departments to do their job effectively anyway. So, in my opinion, the classic “Single Department” application will become a thing of the past.  

Instead of thinking about business software based on departments like “sales” or “support” or even software categories like “CRM” or “PLM”, the right thinking is around what information do I need to do my job effectively? Think about a customer service representative. They need access to their primary ticketing application, CRM for deeper customer information, product development for new release and defect/resolution information and operations information for overall infrastructure health status. These are typically four separate applications that are normally siloed within their respective departments. Is the customer service person going to integrate them together? No, they’ll do what we all do and mash everything together in a spreadsheet. The next generation of applications will be versatile enough to blend needs across departments and software segments. 

Borders between applications and departments are going to continue to blur as versatility and flexibility continue to take top priority, knowledge workers increase demand for information and empowered Citizen Developers bypass IT to build their own custom business software applications to do their job better. We recently released research that showed what is driving the demand for more versatility in business applications. We found that 80 percent of employees think business applications should be easy to use, 60 percent think they should be easy to maintain, and perhaps most telling, 54 percent think that they should be customizable by the person doing the job everyday. 

The importance of versatility can’t be over stated. As a new generation of Citizen Developers enter the workforce and advance into leadership positions, user expectations will evolve and their demand for “right for me” applications will skyrocket. Instead of buying five different applications and wrestling them together, a user will simply buy one solution, tailor the app with all the features they want and none of the ones they don’t, and they’ll do it faster, easier and more affordably than ever before. 

How do you think the current state of multiple app categories is inhibiting business function and what do you think we stand to gain by focusing on more versatile business software applications going forward? Keep tweeting us at @trackvia and let us know.