Can we say goodbye to making heavy investments in software licenses that don’t deliver instant value? Instead, can we pay only when we benefit from using the system? Magnus Molin thinks so. Find out why and where he thinks the revolution of the enterprise applications will start.
Can we revolutionise the business systems?
By now, most of us are used to starting quickly with new software applications, and we expect to get instant value without tedious system configurations.
The other day, it dawned on me that if the principles underlying a world-class user experience were applied to business systems, they would revolutionise enterprise applications as well.
In short: say goodbye to investing millions upfront in a software license without getting instant value. Pay only when you benefit from using the system and forget about massive implementation projects before using it in production.
This is how we already experience consumer applications. Let me give you a few everyday examples.
First example: easy and instant installation
Could starting to use a business application be as easy as installing an app on your smartphone?
Nowadays configuring a new app on your phone (or tablet or laptop) is only a few clicks away. With the app store built into the operating system and the device connected to the Internet, all you have to do is to accept the terms, then let the app download and install itself.
“Say goodbye to investing millions upfront in a software license without getting instant value.”
Anyone remember the times when you had to buy physical disks in a store, bring them home and feed them into the computer one by one during the installation process? Nostalgia, but hardly anyone misses it.
Second example: data precedes application
Not only does an old-time ERP system come with a challenging installation and implementation process, but, once in place, it is an empty shell waiting for you to add all the data.
In the new world, the feature you love is often there waiting to be activated, with data and everything.
Inspired by a friend, I recently checked out my Google Maps timeline and realised I could track my whereabouts in detail back to the day I had allowed Google to collect and store location information for me.
Scary but also cool, the realisation being that the data was there all along, years before I requested to see it, use it or analyse it.
Third example: apply to business application
Creating an integration with another system, even at remote trading partners, no longer has to be a time-consuming project. My small epiphany came from a first-hand experience involving electronic invoicing.
I work remotely and rent a small workspace in a local business community. Knowing that Pagero only accepts electronic invoices through the Pagero network (naturally), I was hesitant to break the news to my new supplier: “Sorry, but you will need to re-enter that invoice manually in our portal if you are not connected to Pagero already”, so I offered the poor chap in charge some help to get started.
It turns out he is using a cloud-based ERP system that is already hooked up to an e-invoice network, just not Pagero’s. Could this be solved through our interoperability agreements? Yes, luckily we are an open network, so hooking up to Pagero was merely a tick in a checkbox and an authorisation to activate the supplier from our side.
“The next generation of business applications will be built on top of data which is already abundantly available.”
Who said integration had to be complicated? Well, actually, most EDI projects tend to be complicated, or at least cumbersome, demanding a lot of communication between integration specialists on both sides, slow to progress and, when completed, leaving some unique codebase to maintain over time.
Having worked with various integration projects in the past, I realised I had just got a glimpse of what the future of B2B integration looks like.
Where to find the next generation of applications
Now who says that enterprise applications cannot be revolutionised just like this? I reckon that you will see the innovation coming from where B2B integrations first became accessible to the masses – that is, from business networks like Pagero and others.
I strongly believe that the next generation of business applications will be built on top of data which is already abundantly available instead of data being squeezed into a rigid pre-devised model.
Also, on the basis of what we have learnt from consumer apps, business applications will be created with a focus on the user experience rather than bolting on a hard-to-grasp user interface on top of some (wonderful) back-end engineering. Users and buyers will no longer accept lengthy implementation and configuration projects when there are disruptors that can offer value instantly.
For my part I will keep the dream alive and maintain easy on-boarding, immediate value and data-driven applications as key principles when developing and launching new services. So, stay tuned for some really exciting news in the months and years to come.