The Future of Business Software

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Re-thinking the way business applications are built and used across an organization is the core of what we do. Our effort to re-think the evolution of business applications also drives us to constantly think about the future of SaaS applications and technology platforms — their capabilities, business criticality and how end users interact with these systems. What we have been seeing for some time is non-technical end users within an organization building tailored business software applications to improve how they work and deliver on their business initiatives.  At TrackVia, we call this the “Rise of the Citizen Developer” movement. Others refer to this as User Centric IT. Whatever you call it, this trend is real and growing. 

At TrackVia, we certainly believe that software is eating the world, a statement made famous by Marc Andreessen. But more importantly we believe that, collectively, end user software literacy, creativity and specific industry knowledge have eclipsed the business software giants. You already see software giants trying to stay relevant and charge toward this industry shift by providing productized APIs for developers to build custom application components to enhance their core product, and exposing these connections and innovations for broad use through a marketplace. However, this is just a small stair step in the next phase of the business software industry. 

This trend isn’t new to the technology industry.  Apple started the BYOD movement with the iPhone®, then AWS changed the way technology infrastructure was configured, deployed and maintained. Box and Dropbox used the end-user revolution to change the document collaboration industry (SharePoint, anyone?). The technology and user sophistication have reached a parallel level and business applications are the next natural area of disruption. 

We believe that the next decade will bring unprecedented changes to the software industry, specifically to business software applications and how businesses use technology to empower their organizations. The core of this belief is that business software applications will not be built or designed by the IT department or third-party SaaS providers. Instead, these applications will largely be built by end users and department leaders. End-user software literacy is at an all-time high and will continue to increase with the next workforce generation. Business end users are now comfortable taking control of their technology needs and, in fact, they want to build web-based applications or mobile apps that work the way they do (tech-savvy Millennials are on target to make up the largest percentage of the workforce in 2015).   

This isn’t an end-all-be-all for business software. Software engineers and developers will still play an important and critical role in developing sophisticated, complex applications and building underlying technology platforms to enable end users. There will also be areas of an organization where siloed SaaS software applications make sense for each line of business. However, the days of buying generic, disconnected applications for every front-line business application or department will become a thing of the past. The next generation of business software will be easily purchased online, deployed within minutes, and will be so easy to use and versatile that the average business person will be able to build specialized applications that meet their exact needs — all on a single platform that enables record-level data, workflow capabilities, and dashboard and reporting visibility. 

TrackVia, and others, describe this shift in business software as the “Rise of the Citizen Developer”, whereby non-technical business users build applications to run their department activities and workflow.  

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For this reason, we’re launching our vision of the Citizen Developer Success Model, nine key factors that will revolutionize the way business applications are built and used. In the following weeks, we will publish a series of blog posts discussing these nine characteristics of Citizen Developer success and what they mean for businesses. 

Check back every week to see the next post in our series. We also what to hear from you. Join the discussion by leaving a comment below, tweet us @trackvia or @petekhanna