For many years experts cited Web security as...
The blurred line between enterprise and consumer softwareBefore we dive in the strange and complicated world of business software, let’s find out what an enterprise solution is. In its broadest sense, it is any software that is used by companies, be it a customer relationship management (CRM) system or a file-sharing tool like Dropbox. However, vendors often abuse the term to advertise their products to business community. After all, 60% of employees use Facebook in the workplace; does it help the social media app achieve the so-called “enterprise level”? Thus, enterprise software is not about capabilities. Instead, we should focus on business challenges it is supposed to address. The major goal of implementing enterprise software is to increase employees’ productivity and boost profit through effective data management. The most important characteristics of an enterprise solution are scalability (a successful business is bound to grow), interoperability (75% of companies use at least 6 different apps for workflow management), security (you surely don’t want your data assets to float around the Web) and portability (the BYOD trend continues to shape the future of work environment). In 2013, 79% of US enterprises were using business applications or considered adopting one. However, only 26% of these companies were fully satisfied with their software, citing user hostility, lack of flexibility and high licensing & maintenance costs as the major reasons for disappointment. So the question is, how to choose a business app that would meet your requirements and perform well?
On-premises and cloud-based business process management softwareOn-premises software is stored on a company’s server. Thus, an enterprise bares hardware maintenance costs and is totally responsible for software updates. Keeping software on-prem is a great way to assure business data security. Today most business apps are off-premises (i.e., cloud) by nature. Companies migrate to the cloud to cut software development and maintenance costs. If you opt for a cloud solution, your data will be managed by a third-party provider. You can also choose the SaaS (software as a service) licensing model and purchase a ready-to-use data management tool. Although the whole SaaS thing does sound great, IT experts (including Gartner) claim the complete migration to the cloud is not going to happen anytime soon. Instead, enterprises will continue to deploy on-prem and cloud solutions at the same time.
Types of enterprise applications (and tech tools they are built with)
- ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). ERP business process management and resource tracking software is implemented by large companies in a variety of industries (government, finance, retail, etc.). The software enables your employees who work in different departments to rely on the same data and use it for their purposes. With the help of ERP systems, companies can also monitor key business performance parameters and generate reports. For example, Aeroflot (Russia’s largest airline) uses a high-load crew notification system that registers phone call data, automates SMS delivery, plans employees’ working hours and expected crew composition. The application is primarily built with .Net;
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management). CRM software enables companies to monitor customer data across multiple channels (including website, mail, social media accounts, phone numbers, etc.). A CRM system provides employees involved in customer services with detailed information on a client’s persona and buying behavior. It’s no wonder CRMs are widely used in sales (although the soft can be implemented by any enterprise that has a marketing team or creates invoices). If your company has a large & rapidly growing customer base, using Java EE is a win-win solution. However, some popular CRM systems are built with PHP (SugarCRM), Microsoft platform (SplendidCRM) and Ruby (XLsuite). With a well-written PHP CRM system, you can easily track & store customer data across different communication channels, carry out loyalty programs, send notifications and generate reports;
- DMS (Document Management Software). Enterprises use DMS applications to organize digital and paper documents. The software is usually integrated with scanners that convert printed documents into digital ones. A typical DMS system incorporates a sophisticated search engine; it’s a complex solution that enables you to find a document in no time, edit files, restrict access to business data and delete outdated documents on demand. Technology stack – PHP, MySql;
- CMS (Content Management System). CMS is a software system that allows you to create and manage website content. A CMS has two components – content management and delivery applications. As long as you have a reliable CMS, you don’t have to learn CSS or HTML to create, modify and delete web pages. As a rule, customers prefer to build websites using open-source Content Management Systems like WordPress (powers 26.4% of all websites out there), Joomla or Drupal. The choice of a CMS depends on several factors, including the desired level of security and your company’s core activity. With WordPress, you can build reliable e-commerce, blog and photography websites. Joomla is fine for informative and small business websites. Drupal often powers social networking websites and portals. Since open-source CMS solutions are subject to security exploits, some companies prefer to build custom content management systems. Most CMS solutions are built with PHP. The PHP ecosystem has recently undergone major changes (including better security and flexibility), so the language is totally fit for enterprises;
- ECM (Enterprise Content Management). The major goal of using ECM software is to easily access current version of a document or record, arrange data in a hierarchical structure, conduct audit and manage other workflow processes. Unlike content management systems that simply enable users to create web pages, ECM is focused on data storage and incorporates elements of business intelligence. ECM solutions are often used in HR and accounting departments (to maintain employees’ records and keep track of invoices). Typically, enterprise content management systems process large amounts of data, so it’s safer – and easier! – to build the soft with Java.