November 11, 2015

Issues in enterprise application software

1. I think the next decade or so will see much more change in enterprise applications than the last one. Why? Because the unresolved issues are piling up, and something has to give. I intend this post to be a starting point for a lot of interesting discussions ahead.

2. The more technical issues I’m thinking of include:

We also always have the usual set of enterprise app business issues, including:

And perhaps the biggest issue of all, intertwined with most of the others, is:

3. I’m not ready to answer those questions yet, but at least I’ve been laying some groundwork.

Along with this post, I’m putting up a three post series on the history of enterprise apps. Takeaways include but are not limited to:

4. Reasons I see for the enterprise apps area having been a bit dull in recent years include:

5. But I did do some work in the area even so. 🙂 Besides posts linked above, other things I wrote relevant to the present discussion include:



13 Responses to “Issues in enterprise application software”

  1. Michael Elling on November 11th, 2015 12:52 pm


    The enterprise computing model needs to be understood in the broader framework of communication networks and where processing occurs (or has occurred previously). Because of monopoly, processing (data) and switching (comms) shifted to the edge in the 1950s-80s. These forces shaped enterprise communication and processing. But with the advent of competition and mobile, these forces have reversed and transformed. B2B/B2C/C2C lines are all blurring both with respect to communication, data gathering, and knowledge management. I think you raise some of these as distinct issues, but a more complete picture of the interplay and forecast of where the networks will go are necessary in order to make a future prediction on EAS.


  2. Bob Zurek on November 11th, 2015 2:04 pm

    Lately it seems like it is getting much easier to put together a reasonably functional SaaS application in shorter bursts of time thru a MVP model where you can quickly get customer feedback on the functionality of the app and respond with results.
    Consider today, the wide choice and availability of reliable open source software (from the likes of Google and others) as well as an amazing expansion of the number of API’s in the market as well as algorithms.
    Do you sense we will see a resurgence in new applications that will be more and more niche in nature but tackling pain that a large base of customer desire to address?
    Nice to see this subject being discussed.

  3. clive boulton on November 11th, 2015 3:38 pm

    Of “how an app vendor could offer both SaaS and packaged apps”.

    Underway already desktop platforms are being slowly back-fitted with *mobile OS. A likely next step is instantiate a series of deep-linked mobile apps as swipe thru on mobile and as a panorama on desktop.

    * Apple has been pushing iOS iPhone features back to OSX Mac for 24 months. Google is also pushing Android into ChromeOS technologies (see WSJ). Microsoft surely takes another bite at getting this worked out again after Windows 8 misfire.

  4. Curt Monash on November 12th, 2015 3:48 am


    I certainly see niche analytic SaaS apps as a major growth area. Reasons include:

    • Analytic apps have problems that are best addressed in niche cases.
    • Some apps basically convey outside information, which is generally a niche business.
    • Analytic SaaS has performance and implementation challenges that may be more straightforward to address in niche contexts.

    Also, if an app depends on data integration, then it’s limited to the niche corresponding to what it integrates with.

  5. Curt Monash on November 12th, 2015 3:50 am


    You seem to be talking about where the clients are, while I’m focusing on the tension between having the servers in one’s preferred cloud/co-lo and having the servers wherever the customer likes to have their servers be.

  6. Barney Finucane on November 12th, 2015 3:50 am

    A fundamental problem with adaptable applications is that they can only work as productivity tools for people with domain knowledge.

    That’s the pitch: You don’t have to understand the generic technology to do the implementation, just have domain knowledge and click you way through some configuration screens.

    Then to save money, big companies outsource the implementation to offshore generic IT service providers. When you look at the CVs of the cheap offshore employees, they all know the generic tech stack, but few have domain knowledge. So to them, the easiest solution to the problem is a total rewrite.

    So big vendors spend vasts sums delivering the wrong toolset to the wrong implementers. The problem is related to the whole IT vs business user conflict that plagues BI.

  7. Curt Monash on November 12th, 2015 5:45 am


    It depends on the degree of adaptability/adaptation, among other factors.

    • A bit of configuration is unavoidable.
    • True customization is traditionally common, but replacing the need for customization by configuration is a big win.
    • What you’re talking about seems to be the combination of a development/execution tool/environment plus some quickstarts. Yeah, that kind of approach can be problematic, and is likely to fail for operational apps. But …
    • … in analytics that’s what people often do, in lieu of true apps, because true apps are often impossible.
  8. clive boulton on November 12th, 2015 8:26 am


    I’m coming at enterprise application software from the bottom up tier 3 perspective building very large scale SaaS for say 100,000 to 1,000,000 multi-tenancy SMB customers with growth to on-premises for SMEs. Both with same code base. Current web frameworks popular in consumer apps I see giving way over the next 24 months to apps built mobile first. For the reasons you well outlined I see huge pent up demand for new enterprise application software platforms (mobile instantiated on desktop) with Spark and Stucco algorithms remaking MRP. [Or I wipe away “3 tears”].

  9. Curt Monash on November 12th, 2015 1:22 pm


    Why the centrality of mobile? Is that the main use case?

  10. clive boulton on November 12th, 2015 6:21 pm


    In the SMB/SME space building UI for configurable scale requires building on the dominant canonical platform, it was Windows, it’s now Android / iPhone.

  11. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2015 5:15 am


    I see your point(s). Salesforce automation obvious should be mobile.

    The other argument is that tedious “paperwork” should be mobile as well. Fair enough.

  12. clive boulton on November 15th, 2015 1:51 am


    Very much looking forward to reading your follow on posts to this layout of the ground work. An “Outkast Prototype” feels due (Website linky).

  13. Some checklists for making technical choices | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on February 16th, 2016 1:05 pm

    […] November, 2015 post on issues in enterprise application software links to a number of other relevant […]

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