Even before cloud computing became the household name, enterprise software industry has started seeing disruption. Even though legacy software still holds enterprise market to ransom, companies like Salesforce.com, Workday, Netsuite, Google, etc. are carving out a path towards the modern day enterprise software. From my point of view, any modern enterprise software should offer
- social features
- contextual information/embedded intelligence
Even though there are other aspects of modern enterprise applications that are important, I consider these three features to be vital before I even characterize an application as modern enterprise software.
This is exactly why I got excited about Workday’s (previous CloudAve Coverage) new release even though my research focus is mainly on platforms and infrastructure. If you are keen on knowing the new features in Workday’s HCM and Payroll tools, I strongly recommend you to read this post by Larry Dignan. In this post I am going to focus on the two of the above said features of modern enterprise software.
First, a brief detour on why contextual information is important
One of the biggest problems faced by the enterprises is that they seldom put the data they have to use. In the past, part of the reason was the silos created by legacy enterprise software not talking to one another and another big reason was the unstructured nature of the data in the repository. While we still hope for a future where semantic ontologies supported by automation make relevant decisions for us, there are numerous analytics tools that could make sense out of unstructured and semi-structured data we already have. These analytics tools can mine the data and offer insights that can greatly help an organization make informed business decisions. However, even among the many modern day SaaS solutions available in the market, these contextual information/intelligence is not available in a handy manner at a place (say, inside the application) and time (say, when making critical decisions) when the users need it. Slowly, users are realizing the importance of contextual information and are demanding their software vendors to embed context/intelligence inside the applications. Now, albeit at a slower pace, we are seeing software vendors adapting to this demand. Recently, I wrote about MindTouch adding contextual information in their software meeting the demands of Help 2.0 space.
Workday 14 and Embedded Intelligence
If you are interested in knowing how embedded intelligence can impact HRM software, I recommend you to read this great piece by Naomi Bloom (Thanks @SameerPatel for the link). Workday’s embedded intelligence feature will bring the contextual information within business processes. As Larry pointed out in his article, Workday will use in-memory data management to bring performance reviews, holiday schedules and other contextual data points to the fore. It is essentially embedded packaged and custom analytics available in the screen where decisions are being made without any need to navigate to another tab or open another reporting tool. For example, when a manager is deciding on the compensation increase for an employee, the screen will also show contextual information like employee’s performance, current compensation, compensation history, compensation comparison with peers, etc.. This will not just helps an organization be more efficient but also maintain healthy employee satisfaction, one of the core tenets driving HR.
Workday 14 and Mobility
As I wrote recently, Workday has released an iPad application which will help C-level executives have a better view into their organization. In my opinion, enterprise software should not just be accessible by smartphones and tablets but they also must be optimized for the mobile experience, especially the tablet experience. Workday’s iPad app is one such application well optimized for C-level executives walking around with iPad. Their new update for iPhone brings expenses to smartphones and now it only takes a click to submit your expense along with the photo of the receipt. This is yet another tiny step in easing the employee work experience, hallmark of any modern enterprise. One of my criticisms of software vendors entering the mobile enterprise space is the absence of feature parity among the applications available for different mobile platforms. In my opinion, any enterprise software vendor should offer apps across all the mobile platforms and maintain the same feature parity across all the platforms. If enterprise software vendors are not meeting this criteria, they are not meeting the needs of the modern enterprise workers who have already embraced the BYOD model. Looks like, Workday mobile apps lacks this feature parity criteria. However, Workday informed me that the mobile web apps, which works very well on other mobile platforms, have all the features of iOS apps except for the expense receipt capture functionality.
Enterprise workers are changing in the way they work. Not just the younger generation who enter the workforce today but even those with decades of experience are changing the way they work. They want collaboration, they are more mobile and they expect contextual information to be available at the point of decision making. Some of the enterprise software vendors are leading the charge and are building modern enterprise software satisfying the demands of these modern enterprise workers. Workday is one such company in the HRM and Financials space and their recent release is an indication of the fact that they get “modern enterprise software”.
Disclosure: Workday is one of the sponsors of CloudAve but this is my personal opinion on enterprise software and how Workday fits in my model
- Workday launches Workday 14, wins Thomson Reuters deal (zdnet.com)
- iPad for Business Round-Up: Workday Releases iPad App and More (readwriteweb.com)
- Appirio CEO talks Workday, SaaS momentum, IPO (zdnet.com)
- Workday Goes After Higher Education, Public Sector Markets (informationweek.com)
- Does anyone have a clue about mobile enterprise? Apple? (zdnet.com)
- Workday 14: Mobility and Embedded Intelligence (workday.com)