Ten years ago, you could drop a call while driving through certain parts of town in places that were called Dead Zones. Of course in rural areas cell reception can still be spotty, but in most major cities, Dead Zones are a thing of the past.
But there is a new kind of Dead Zone that is far more common and even more frustrating. These places are corporate offices all over the world where enterprise software is so outdated that it is incapable of doing half of what we demand that our technology accomplish at home. Unlike dropped calls, archaic enterprise software is so damaging that it can cost companies countless hours of lost productivity, lose them valuable employees, and even cause their gradual decline.
The shortcomings of enterprise technology are numerous. A report by Forrester found that 69% of employees want technology to be more mobile, 75% have a hard time accessing information, and 62% have to rely on other employees to access job-critical information.
Changes are coming, though, and they are coming in a wave of new technologies for the corporate world that are closing the gap with home technology performance. These are three trends that are modernizing enterprise software:
- Communication Tools
If you want to communicate with a friend, the list of options available to you is nearly limitless. You can text, call, Facebook Message, email, Snapchat, Instagram, FaceTime, and about a hundred other things. Furthermore, you can do all of those things on any number of devices, anywhere in the world.
But when you enter the Dead Zone of a corporate office, your options drop precipitously. Sean Nolan, the founder and CEO of Blink and thought leader in modernizing enterprise software, thinks communication tools are one of the most significant shortcomings of enterprise software.
"The standard for effective communication has changed. Emails and lengthy recurring meetings are a thing of the past, replaced by agile, real-time communication channels that allow employees to message electronically. The flexibility of these communication channels improves productivity exponentially while also improving the work experience for employees."
The advent of more nimble communication tools in enterprise software bridges a technology gap that hurts productivity and frustrates employees. Millennials entering the workforce are almost certainly going to drive the adoption and dissemination of communication tools in the years ahead.
- Smart Bots
Bots are not a new idea. Since very early versions of Microsoft Word, there was a talking paperclip called the Office Assistant that would try to answer your questions. Perhaps because of how limited the paperclip bot was, many technology consumers have ignored them and tried to find answers by other means.
New technology is changing the way bots work for the better. With the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI), bots are no longer one dimensional search tools, they are dynamic machines that can query information, learn your behaviors, anticipate problems, and organize tasks for their human counterparts.
That is why businesses are rapidly adopting bots into their enterprise software. According to Facebook, there are tens of thousands of developers churning out intelligent bots for both B to C and B to B environments. Crucially, companies like Blink are empowering companies to use bots within their own IT environments.
The use cases are almost limitless. Bots can be trained to assist with highly specific and nuanced tasks, like accounts receivable, sales and marketing, and communication.
- Micro Apps
Enterprise software today does a poor job of connecting employees to all of the information and tools that they need. Instead, most employees have a corporate account that has limited permissions and minimal functionality. Micro apps can change all of that without requiring a substantial overhaul of company software.
"Micro apps are plugins that you can customize as necessary," explains Nolan. "So you can have micro apps that give you access to the news, meeting agendas, logging expenses, process documents, and so on. They are a way to make information more accessible and organized for employees who need to use it."
When you want to know which restaurant you should try, you download an app with restaurant reviews. If you are trying to find entertainment news, you can choose from a litany of applications that serve that information. In the Dead Zone of a corporate office, the maxim "there is an app for that" is no longer true. Thankfully, enterprise software is seeing the benefit of applications and is moving to incorporate them.
Taken together, these trends signify a revolution in enterprise software that is long overdue. Whatever the motivating factors are, employees are likely to reap the benefits of using intelligible software and employers can expect outstanding returns in productivity.