During this ongoing series on the future of business software and the Rise of Citizen Developers, we’ve talked about the changes in the speed to build and deploy applications and the fact that coding experience is no longer necessary to build applications that increase efficiency and productivity. Today, I’ll explore the significance of how the next generation of specialized software and application platforms can easily morph around how people work, versus forcing people to work around them.
The introduction and evolution of SaaS products has made a greater variety of tools available to a large number of business users. But one problem has remained. They’re still generic, one size fits all. These SaaS solutions are not easy to customize or tailor to fit specific users’ business needs, or to evolve as those needs change. Though the generic, off-the-shelf model makes business software applications much easier for vendors to build and market and much easier for users to access, they’re still one-size-fits-all solutions. The problem here is, of course, that one size rarely fits all. In most cases, businesses still need to hire a consultant or a SaaS-specific professional services group to implement and customize the solution. And this costs time and money. Lots and lots of money.
What we all know from real-world experience is that every business is different. That means that every business has different needs. Businesses have varying numbers of employees, different workflows, unique policies and procedures, changing budgets, and are almost always at different stages of maturation. So buying business software that isn’t infinitely and easily customizable and flexible often leads to businesses having to change their workflows and processes to adapt to their solution, rather than adapting or customizing their solution to match their workflow.
Consider sales and customer relationship management. CRM business software is among the most common applications around. Sure, CRM solutions differ between vendors. And while each vendor offers different packages for different types and sizes of businesses, their CRM solutions all basically work the same and have the same fundamental architecture. Now compare how different sales organizations can be between companies. Each has different terminology, qualification, sales strategies and stage criteria or forecasting methodology. So no matter what CRM solution you buy, anyone who has ever implemented CRM business software knows that you’ll still need to customize or add your specialized modifications to get them to work the way you want. This isn’t limited to just the implementation phase either. You’ll need to modify the software every time the business advances or evolves. Why shouldn’t it be easy to modify or specialize your software? After all, isn’t that the definition of scalable?
The emerging and next generation of business software and no-code application platforms allow business users to build solutions that meet the unique needs of their organization. These solutions are not only easy to customize or adapt to their workflow, but also enhance it, making everyone more productive and efficient. Then as the business’ needs change, the software can continually be modified and customized in minutes or hours, versus weeks or months.
The impact here is tremendous. Software decisions have traditionally been made by IT departments or executives who, while well intentioned, were less connected with the intimate workflows and processes of employees throughout their company. Let’s be fair. It’s probably unreasonable to expect your IT department to also be an expert at sales or marketing or vendor management, and to pick or build the perfect software solution. If you need to customize or modify an application to work exactly the way people want it to work, who better to do that than the actual users themselves?
But just as zero-code platforms are enabling employees to use their perspective and experience to design, build and deploy business software applications that work the way they do, they’re also allowing for the development of software that can continually be modified to fit changing needs. What’s the old expression, “adapt or die”? I think that sums it up perfectly.
Keep tweeting us at @trackvia and let us know where you think one-size-fits-all applications are inhibiting business users, and how you think customizable business software will evolve. And make sure to keep checking back for more in this series.