Each day technology advances, along the way the definition of an enterprise application has changed. In the olden days enterprise applications would be installed on a users machine with possibly some backend services for aggregating data. These applications had to be reliable and robust. Not much stock was put into the user experience. There would be applications for resource management, asset management, and operations management. These applications tended to be built and used in isolation and the data collected was not shared between them. Aggregating the data from these different applications was a choir; not easily done in a timely manner. And mobile wasn’t even in the picture.
Technology has made that model ineffective. Today people and businesses use technology in different ways. This has caused a redefinition of what constitutes an enterprise applications. So what is my definition of a Modern Enterprise Application? There are three things that I think make up a modern application:
- They can’t work insolation
- They must consider the user experience in their design
- They should be accessible anywhere
Big Data Revolution
First and foremost enterprise applications can no longer work in isolation. The data that is collected by these applications should be actionable in near real time. Terabytes and terabytes of data are useless if that data can not be acted upon in a timely manner. Working with large amounts of dispersed data has brought about the Big Data Revolutions. Organizations are attempting to use their vast quantity of data to glean a competitive advantage. Any new enterprise application should consider contributing to and consuming data available throughout the enterprise.
Time for UX
In the past battleship gray WinForm applications were the norm. Not much effort was put into the usability of these application and as such there are many inefficiencies causing wasted dollars in the form of manpower. Also today’s workforce has grown up using applications that provide rich, immersive applications so they expect more from the applications they use both at home and in the office. Today the technology exists to easily build out richer applications than were possible in the past. By concentrating on the experience, enterprises can gain some efficiencies. Also eliminating some of the frustrations of their users. This should increase employee satisfaction especially for the younger people entering the workforce.
Three Screens and a Cloud
A few years ago Ray Ozzie (while he was still at Microsoft) had a vision of delivering applications to “Three Screens and a Cloud”. The three screens were TV, PC, and mobile and the content would be delivered from the cloud. Back then he wanted Silverlight to be the mechanism for delivering applications to these devices. Today plugin technologies are all but dead for anything other than internal business application. The vision is still alive and well though the delivery mechanism has changed. More and more mobile devices are showing up in the enterprise and these devices need to tie into the enterprise ecosystem. Your enterprise application should reach as many of these screens as possible
These are just some high level thoughts of mine. I will cover different aspects of modern application through a series of blog posts. I will attempt to highlight how these three building blocks are used to build out a modern enterprise application.