Published on the 13/12/2017 | Written by Dan Ussher
We are in a period of transition, says Unit4’s Dan Ussher, moving away from ownership of assets and instead consuming services…
As a result, there is a need to change the way they operate to succeed across processes, people and systems.
A sign of any good business is the provision of excellent customer service; it is vital to listen and respond to the customer’s direct needs. In the field of technology, this has meant a shift change in what is delivered. Enterprise technology has drastically transformed in the last five years and will continue to do so as we enter 2018. With an increasing number of organisations adopting the likes of bots, digital assistants, IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to boost productivity amongst staff, achieving exemplary customer service in a timely manner will be a must.
In tandem with this, organisations need to embrace disruptive innovations that are embedded in the sharing economy and P2P networks, learning to adapt their transactional processes as a result.
Cloud, mobility & IoT link to software
For as long as many of us can remember, cloud, mobility and IoT have been earmarked as the disruptors of the modern day. However, as the millennials who are so familiar with these forms of technology infiltrate the workforce, they are becoming less groundbreaking. SaaS is now so prevalent that 2018 is likely to be the start of the end of cloud as a concept in its own right. We are moving to a world in which all software will be delivered via the cloud.
For instance, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently revealed that, for the 2015-16 year, almost one-third of local businesses were already on the cloud. And there is no sign of going back. According to Gartner, the public cloud services market in Australia is forecast to reach A$6.5 billion, up 15 percent from last year.
Unbundling SaaS and marketplaces
The services’ economy along with advances in technology have helped to make the idea of mammoth enterprise application stacks almost extinct. We expect this trend to continue in 2018 as more organisations adopt microservices, or bite sized applications that are simple to develop and deploy, and slot together to provide positive business results more quickly and cheaply for the customer.
This trend is empowering a new enterprise marketplace with new demand for digital ecosystems akin to the app stores we are used to. As businesses develop and deliver more and more point applications using microservices, we will see the rise of privately run marketplaces that allow users to select and deploy the applications that they wish to use.
Artificial intelligence and bots
AI has soared in popularity, entering the marketplace recently in the form of chatbots which boast a friendly and informal interface. It’s early days of course, and aside from some helpful customer service bots and personal assistants like Cortana, digital assistants are currently serving one primary purpose in the enterprise. They provide a way for the user to benefit from the data in their business systems without the difficulty of navigating those systems which are still cumbersome and not user friendly in terms of the user experience we expect today.
The use of machine learning to translate huge amounts of data into intelligent decisions and actions is where the real magic lies. Just like the work being done around self-driving cars, enterprise software will become self-driving, interpreting available data and applying it to determine a user’s intentions, and to suggest the best course of action, and even taking that action for them in some cases.
Alongside this, predictive analytics are driving previously unheard of robotics within SaaS, finessing the experience of the end user while improving efficiency and accuracy. This is especially true in the field of sales and marketing, where staff can focus their skill set on selling and marketing, as opposed to wasting time on tedious tasks such as inputting data.
However, there is still some way to go. These bots need to be taught how to behave and it is very much a work in progress.
Business Outcome Management – Data as a Service (DaaS)
The SaaS adopter base is expanding at a rate of knots, as is the volume of available data in the cloud, meaning that companies are shifting from user or transaction costing models to models that actually measure the increase in business value. Companies now want to know how their business is performing against competitors and where necessary improvements can be made. As a result, DaaS is having an ever more central role on strategy planning and this will only serve to increase in the ensuing years.
Cybersecurity is front of mind for most enterprises, following the likes of WannaCry and Petya which dominated headlines in 2017. Cloud security is improving and thus, there has been a shift in the traditional thinking that on-premises enterprise systems are more secure than the cloud. People are starting to place more trust in the concept of the cloud, as the platforms become more advanced and in fact, easier to implement and manage than the on-site counterpart.
Building out enterprise architectures
A minority of companies hold a good market share in the SaaS industry, predominantly because these companies controlled closed platforms that prevented interoperability. As the technology revolution continues, these platforms are opening up, providing more opportunity for integration.
A good example of this is Microsoft’s focus to provide a platform that can be used to build solutions for customers. Imagine a futuristic SaaS model that is simply a blank canvas for users to customise as they see fit, uploading the exact software that they need from companies that they want to work with.
Integration will be a major catalyst for the growing success of SaaS, driven by robust APIs linked to integration platform ecosystems and combined with new micro-service applications. Co-marketing opportunities between complementary solutions providers will also contribute to the success.
Be ahead of the pack
We are living in the most exciting time for enterprise software we’ve seen in over a decade. Never before have we witnessed the levels of innovation and digital advancement that we are experiencing on a daily basis. This rejuvenation of enterprise technology has put it back on the map; a map which is accessible to all.
And it is those businesses that take the bull by the horns and embrace the new services economy by adopting the smart applications on offer that will set themselves apart from the competition, outperforming them in the process.
Dan Ussher is Unit4 ANZ Sales Director.