Cincom Systems country manager Greg Mills spoke to IndustrySearch about the trends and challenges shaping the business software and applications sector.
IndustrySearch: What trends have shaped the business software and applications sector in recent years?
Greg Mills: The three biggest trends I see that are influencing the direction of the industry are:
1. The movement of application software from on-premise to on the 'cloud'. More and more software applications provided by the major software companies are being made available through the web from servers that could be located anywhere. This means regardless of where you are you have access to business information.
2. The rise of the bring-your-own device, the ability of users to do their work on their personal devices – phone, tablet or home PC.
3. The 'consumerisation' of software. Consumers' expectations are different to the way business has traditionally used software – which are large comprehensive systems that try to provide functionality across the entire business. For the consumer there are multiple apps to perform specific functions – like personal banking, tracking your expenses or purchasing items. The user interface for these apps has focussed on minimising the amount of information you have to enter and 'gamification' to make them easy and fun to use.
IndustrySearch: How have you as a supplier responded to these trends?
Greg Mills: We are still watching the transformation of these trends in technology taking hold. I don't think anyone can confidently predict the outcome of these innovations but it will change the way we use and access information technology and the way we will source application software.
We have a long history with application software for business and the real goal is to provide solutions that support the business whilst managing these technology transformations. Historically we have always provided customers a way to move – originally from proprietary hardware & databases, to web based solutions and onto cloud based technology. Our approach is to provide a logical migration path for customers as each new technology shift occurs.
IndustrySearch: How do you see this changing in the next 12-24 months, and what will drive the change?
Greg Mills: With the 'consumerisation' of software, employees' expectation of what business software will do for them has changed. The drive for new technology within business is moving from a push-driven approach where IT departments impose new solutions on users to a pull-driven demand by users for better performing and easier to use software.
IndustrySearch: What are the major challenges facing the business software and applications sector right now?
Greg Mills:There is a risk for business of all sizes that the current solutions they are using will be left behind. The speed of change in the technology framework is so rapid whilst at the same time businesses have invested large amounts in their current systems. Business consumers of those applications need to ask the question – how is my provider making sure their solutions are able to adapt to the rapidly changing technology environment? No doubt some of those major software providers are going to be left behind.
IndustrySearch: Can you give examples as to how your company has adapted to these challenges?
Greg Mills:Our new solutions for the complex enterprise have been re-engineered from the ground up to provide the multiple-platform (on-premise or cloud) and multiple-device support that is needed to give businesses the flexibility to make decisions about how to use and deploy software. In addition to more functionality we are developing new apps that provide a new way of interacting with software that end users are comfortable with. This allows wide choice for business and removes the risk of ending up at a 'dead end' with their software.
IndustrySearch: What initiatives would you like to see from government to better support business software and applications?
Greg Mills:Putting aside what is the best way to deliver broadband, the NBN is key to supporting the new trends in technology and ensuring a more productive workforce. Also key is encouraging the local software industry to invest in R&D to encourage and grow application and support software providers. Finally encouraging education and development of skilled people and attracting young people to study IT as a future career.
IndustrySearch: What's the next 'big thing' we can expect from the business software and applications sector?
Greg Mills: I think the days of the behemoth applications to run business are numbered. Business consumers of IT will be able to select best of breed solutions running on the cloud to support various value chains or process streams in the business rather than having to choose one big supplier.
There will be more subscription based consumption of software and a move away from companies investing in their own IT infrastructure. We are certainly in for some interesting times.