Enterprise applications used to be a code word for one big yawn.
You had an ERP app that was first developed in about 1963 and incrementally updated ever since. You put a Web front end on your inventory control system, called it 2.0 and off you went to happy hour. You sank so much money into CRM that eventually you too agreed with Marc Benioff that software was dead and you went and signed up for Salesforce.com.
But in 2009, the economy, the technology spectrum and business have gone through dramatic change. Your enterprise and the applications running in your company should change also. Here are five applications you should now be planning, prototyping and ready to roll out by year's end.
1. True business intelligence. How did all those Wall Street firms invest all that money in all those financial control systems and still get blindsided by the big financial meltdown? The problem, as I see it, started at the very top with two business agendas. Agenda one was to build financial systems that met minimum compliance requirements and were the playground of the quants and math geeks who thought they could model the world. Agenda two-and the one that mattered-was about the unwritten salary and bonus rules that said put as much business as you can on the books whether risky or not, get your money and get out before the Feds come knocking. The new BI systems have to start right at the top and be designed to fully reflect a company's business: the good, the bad and the ugly.
2. The business backbone. How many green, eco-friendly commercials can you watch from companies that have no idea what energy their utilities, HVAC and electrical systems consume? The enterprise application that ties in your traditional analog, not-under-control-of-IT energy systems to your digital dashboard is not something still impossible to produce. The federal government is-in my opinion-going to come up with a carrot and stick regulatory and tax program that will require regular energy use reporting. You can get ahead of all these new energy compliance (just like financial compliance) laws now by instrumenting your company and getting it all tied into the digital nervous system.
3. The social net monitor. Look, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and myriad other social networks are not going to go away. These will all be tools that will be in use by your marketing, product development and customer service groups. The enterprise application that is missing is an app that ties these tools together and presents views based on department needs and measuring requirements.
4. The cloud monitor. Ah, yes, cloud computing. Maybe you should build a little cloud in a couple departments, maybe a corporatewide cloud, maybe just one big cloud. It all sounds so easy. Until you get into issues like server virtualization, compliance monitoring, security and application access. I'm a fan of cloud computing, but I wouldn't go and deploy any mission-critical apps until I had a way to measure, monitor and administer those applications.
5. The mobile enterprise. Mobility was once a bolt-on to existing business applications. Now mobility is the central focus of senior-level executives. Don't believe me? Try and take that iPhone or BlackBerry away from the CEO. Consumer applications tend to lead business applications. The rapid development of the iPhone App Store has shown how quickly mobile applications can be developed. The next generation of enterprise applications will be designed with mobility in mind from the start.
There they are, the five enterprise apps you should be working on now.
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