By Rick Parry
There is a fundamental shift occurring in the technology industry. Household name brands are being usurped by start-ups. End users are dictating development. Companies are finding themselves struggling to compete in markets that they’ve dominated for decades. And most importantly – technologists are no longer driving the technology. Consumers are. Even in the business to the business space, technologists will find that their clients are concerned with tailoring their business practices to meet the needs of their end users. As a result, the nature of the so-called “business app” is changing.
There are 5 key imperatives that technologists have to cater to if they hope to succeed in the marketplace today.
Next-generation applications are going to be deployed on-premise, cloud and hybrid. It’s a well-known fact that cloud-base solutions are growing at a faster rate than on-premise solutions. Think of the implications for development. Very few languages will fit all three, particularly with Big Data thrown into the equation. And how will one scale up an application to be resilient when there are outages (seeing as how downtime is not an option)?
Next-generation business apps will have to support elasticity on demand and it will be impossible to build them from scratch. Software developers of the future will compose their applications through mash-ups, consuming other people’s services and software in order to be a success.
Modern applications are taking a mobile first approach. About half of the world’s population are already carrying handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce. Mobile devices are becoming computers in their own right and with that, ability to use location, motion and context to market to customers has been unlocked. There is a race to push out applications as a competitive tool to improve relationships. Retailers want to be able to detect their customers when they enter a shopping mall, send them marketing messages via SMS, equip them with the means to pay on the spot via their mobile, and then tweet about the experience…after which sentiment analysis surrounding their twitter activity should be conducted. Next-generation business applications have to cater to the mobile market across any device, any language, any platform.
#3 Big Data
The volume of digital data has grown to 2.7 ZB in 2012 up 48% from 2011, and is heading towards 8ZB by 2015. More data is being created and stored than ever before…and thus far, companies do not know what to do with it. That is going to change soon as more and more companies are exploiting big data to generate new revenue sources. Retailers, according to IDC, using big data to the fullest, could increase operating margins by 60%. Business applications of the future have to offer a single entry point to all sources of big data, with real-time analytics. Companies that can automate decision-making by slicing and dicing the overwhelming volume of information will ultimately conquer the market.
#4 Social Media
Approximately 40% of users access social media from their mobile devices and 80% of all mobile apps developed will integrate with social network services. We tend to forget though that the social media platforms that we’re seeing are still early entries to the market – Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram are all in their infancy. Social media, however, remains at the heart of new applications that are being developed. People are conducting sentiment analysis on social media and are trading based on sentiments found in twitter! How do you connect to your customers and exploit the data in a comprehensive way? Modern apps must plan for social network analysis and tracking if they hope to be successful.
The ecosystems that support technology are becoming as important as the technology itself. Time-constrained ISVs will primarily chose their paths based on the popularity of a platform with users, and the ones who will succeed will be the ones that are driven by the entire ecosystem. Mash-ups and partnerships will spawn new ecosystems, discover resellers in new countries and markets. The future will see the formation of joint projects and collaborative forums that can propel companies forward faster than ever before.
Businesses hoping to reach their target markets will need greater access to information and the ability to speak to their customers across a variety of technologies. Technologists of the future have to start changing the way they approach business applications today if they want to continue doing business tomorrow.
Rick Parry, MD of AIGS
AIGS is the Sub Saharan distributor of Progress Software. Progress Software is a global software company that simplifies the development, deployment and management of business applications on-premise or on any Cloud, on any platform and on any device with minimal IT complexity and low total cost of ownership. For more information visit www.aigs.co.za.