How 2020 Dragged Enterprise Software Into the GTM Race?
2020 was ‘the year that changed everything. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a sea change in the operational models of enterprises. A shift to remote work and distributed work environments had never been experienced at this scale. However, to accommodate this shift and to ensure ‘business as usual’, enterprises had to accelerate their technology initiatives and enhance collaboration capabilities to suit the new world of work.
With the homes of the workforce becoming an extension of the enterprise itself, enterprise software has had to shift gears to ensure that while being functionally robust, they also have to be useable, more secure, and more available. One part of the challenge for enterprise software was about adding the right features and addressing the right parameters to drive productivity and collaboration. The second, and more essential, part of the challenge was to accelerate software rollouts to help enterprise customers maintain business continuity and efficiency.
The Expectation From Enterprise Software
So far, the expectation from enterprise software has been to deliver functionality without compromising on security. For long, enterprise software had gotten away with providing clunky and choppy user experiences that the user (in this case, the employee), had no option but to use.
Today, this story has changed. With the remote work environment and distributed teams defining the new world of work, enterprise software emerged as the bridge connecting productivity to profitability. The previous sub-par product experiences cannot drive adoption or advocacy. It became imperative to make enterprise apps available on different channels like mobile, desktops, tabs, etc.
As such, enterprise software development has had to move from being completely functionality-focused to become useable, intuitive, and well-designed. A strong UI and UX focus, multi-device compatibility became essential to balance performance with aesthetics.
Security became another frontier to cross as BYOD became endemic as the enterprise boundary shifted. Gartner1 estimates the information security market to cross $170.4 billion by 2022 as organizations prepare to strengthen their defences against security threats. Reports2 on endpoint security show that 66% of enterprises detected phishing attacks on their networks while 41% report frequently detecting malware. Around 36% of businesses deal with at least one serious breach in a year.
While enterprise software had always been built with security in mind, the need to access these applications, products, or services from outside of the physical boundaries of the organization or from different networks demanded more robust security actions. Baking security into software products clearly became non-negotiable.
The applications also had to become more performance-driven and highly available. Elements like performance management and latency became chasms to cross especially as enterprise software had to enable anytime-anywhere accessibility. Application availability, access management, a re-evaluation of network and bandwidth requirements, etc. became points of change.
Given the demands of the enterprise, Enterprise Software Vendors have to understand that while resilience is essential, it cannot come at the cost of agility. It is apparent that their product strategies have to be built with evolution in mind as ‘change’ is an indelible part of the narrative now.
Application architectures need re-evaluation to ensure that they not only focus on the ‘present-state’ but also the ‘future-state’ of the product. While they are at this, having a ready migration plan for technology evolution has also become a part of the product strategy.
The performance and availability needs of enterprise software also demand the adoption of new technologies such as cloud computing. The need for a hybrid, multi-cloud environments is increasing to accommodate the demands of agility. As such, developing robust cloud strategies, including adopting containerization and modernizing applications and data in the cloud seamlessly becomes important for enterprise software to deliver agility and performance.
The Clarion Call - Accelerating GTM
Enabling these ongoing changes in enterprise software in 2020 was imperative for business success. It has also become essential to add in advanced features like a powerful and accessible UX, robust security, easy 3rd party integrations, and support for hybrid and multi-cloud deployment or microservices architecture. As such, enterprise software has had to introduce strategies to make the development cycle focus on speed, to churn out products faster, and accommodate changes with agility. In essence, advanced products need Digital Product Engineering.
To achieve faster GTM, enterprise product development needs:
Digital Product Engineering – A Facelift
To roll out enterprise software faster, product engineering best practices need to become more holistic and ensure that products integrate easily with their technologies, systems, third-party vendors, etc. to create a more integrated value chain.
Having digital product engineering best practices and experience in place helps accelerate GTM here. Enterprise software development cannot take a myopic view of the enterprise and its needs, but rather see the enterprise tech ecosystem as a whole to ensure faster implementation.
Expertise in Enabling Technologies
Enterprise software can no longer exist in its static states. Given the changing business dynamics, rising customer expectations, and highly competitive environments demand enterprises to innovate constantly in terms of people, processes, and products or services. To get the right processes, workflows, applications, products, or services rolling fast, deep technology expertise drives the speed of development. Development approaches like DevOps, architectures like Microservices, and deployment options like Containerization become important to enable continuous product evolution.
In that scenario, the right knowledge and experience make it easier to drive rapid customizations. This awareness makes it inherently easier to translate a business problem into a solution to assess and identify the right technology solutions. It also helps in delivering solutions that have a tangible business impact for enterprise customers.
Technology expertise and partnerships play a pivotal role in accelerating the product development process simply because the technology experts act like business partners who understand challenges, limitations as well as opportunities.
To Decide Whether to Modernize or Enhance?
The enterprise software narrative is neither straightforward nor simple. Many enterprise software and applications are not built on modern technology. Industries such as banking and finance, manufacturing, automotive, etc. have mature legacy software systems at play running their day-to-day applications. Maintainability and integration with new technologies were inherently difficult. Product owners thus need robust assessment processes to evaluate application complexity and structure from the perspective of the need for evolution. This, coupled with technology, business, and domain expertise help to design strong application modernization strategies that can be rolled out at an accelerated pace.
Leveraging Rapid Prototyping Accelerators
When speed becomes a business necessity, enterprise software development can either adopt a long-drawn development process or make use of some ready-to-use, best-in-class solutions, and frameworks, and rapid prototyping accelerators.
These frameworks and accelerators help ISVs build speed and agility into their development process and roll out applications, workflows, or processes at speed. They can also provide deep insights into performance and minimize technical debt. Faster code reviews, simplified test creation and execution, effective governance, and tracking, all contribute to accelerated speed and improve GTM.
Increasing Test Automation
Expansive testing and fast testing cannot be mutually exclusive and achieving this is not possible without test automation. Test automation can have a direct and positive impact on the speed of development and help enterprise software GTM faster. Today’s software development landscape needs to address rising needs of security, performance, and availability of enterprise software, organizations have no option but to test more and test faster. One more strategy to achieve this could be by creating powerful CI/CD pipelines which will cover code quality checks, unit test execution, automation execution, performance test execution, and security checks among others.
As such, it becomes essential to employ the right testing tools and employ a tool-agnostic test automation framework built for the web, mobile, desktop, and API applications. Engineering frameworks can enable end-to-end integrations across JDBC, Slack, Jira, Sauce Labs. Besides, they can test a wide range of applications, allows for customizations, and employs utility methods written generically to make it suitable for reuse across projects. This can prove to be valuable ammunition in the software development arsenal especially when speed is of the essence.
Enterprise software today have to mature faster and deliver more than ever expected before. Even as the world gradually moves back to its old rhythm, it cannot be denied that certain shifts will become more permanent. Those products that can adapt to change with agility will stay ahead of the curve and technology will be the ultimate enabler of this agility.
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