Enterprise software has been known to have a bad image; on-premise, horrific UX/UI, needing to be highly customised for each customer (which is hugely time consuming), and without the ability to integrate with others. Whereas in the consumer space, we’ve already seen a revolution in software and social apps. So, what does the future hold for Enterprise software companies?
Changing customer dynamics
Enterprise software users are getting younger, and Gen Y and Millennials have been brought up in a world of easy-to-use and visually pleasing consumer software. Expectations have never been so high. However, they also understand that in disciplines such as engineering, black box solutions are not the answer from day one – a high level of trust is needed and of course security continues to be a key concern with rising cyber risk and threats a reality.
Automating complex engineering tasks such as those required across the industrial inspection lifecycle, and enabling engineers to interact with the software to generate their own results is required. Software today must deliver outcomes that are tangible and demonstrable. This leads to a rapid improvement and iteration of the actual tools, as the engineers understand the processes required in order to generate the results.
An easy-to-use tool, designed and built in this way, can then be automated at the request of the users – not the other way around – gaining faster adoption.
Web – code base
At Inspection² we often joke that we think that this ‘internet thing’ (!) may, in fact, succeed. We encounter a lot of on-premise software and are fully aware of the cost and restrictions which it often entails for those who use it. We regularly get asked in early phase conversations about our AI automation software if we also do an on-premise version. Our answer is always the same – we could do, but our counter question, is ‘why’?
This would mean running multiple code branches, requirements for increased support, and massive cost for that individual customer. With AWS, Azure, et al, the ability to regionally or locally host is becoming quicker, easier, and more secure. Updates are pushed to every instance, irrespective of location, meaning pushing multiple updates in a week is the norm, not a task that takes a couple of months of planning.
Cloud-based enterprise software is the future.
Web – environment
Previously a single vendor would own the entire enterprise software stack. Then came collaborations between large software companies offering a ‘dual stack’ in order to dominate an industry.
Now, software can be built on highly scalable cloud architecture such as AWS and Azure – leveraging their security, physical and logical configurations and best in class tools, for example, elastic computing. This helps a smaller company to build specialist software more effectively as they have the necessary foundations – software, that in the past, only a ‘Goliath’ could build.
Playing well with others / APIs
I really believe the ability to choose ‘best in class’ software should be simple for enterprise customers.
Software of the future will be modular and will easily integrate with others via application programming interface (APIs). The commercial contracts should also mirror this approach making it simple for a customer to choose to put different software solutions together.
At Inspection², we go a step further and are happy to integrate our AI software with competitors. And why not? Ultimately, companies are going to be more specialised and will inevitably overlap in industries and sectors. This is likely to be the norm, with proprietary technology gradually providing much wider use cases than originally envisioned.
Getting it right for the customer
Today, if you’re building enterprise software that is cloud native, has good UX/UI, is deeply specialised in an area, and is modular with modern APIs, then you’re truly working on the ‘Blockbuster’ of the enterprise software world. And that software will be better, more flexible, easy to update and cost efficient as a result – which at the end of the day, is what customers want.
To read more about why flexibility is so critical in solving real-life customer problems in the industrial inspection and automation space, here’s Thomas’s top 5 (Dr Thomas Moranduzzo is Head of AI & Computer Vision for Inspection²)
Founder & CEO