As the business technology market approached $4 trillion in 2019, technology and service providers will have greater opportunities to grow their businesses. Meanwhile, technology buyers will be allowed to innovate and upgrade their infrastructure, software, and services. Corporate software spending worldwide is expected to reach $483 billion in 2021, a 7.4% increase over the previous year. Like almost all subsegments of the IT services industry, the enterprise software market has experienced a high level of growth in recent years, with market revenues more than doubling over the decade from 2009 to 2019. In such a situation, you need to seize the day and start developing enterprise software as soon as possible, because it is the development that allows you to fulfill a truly unique idea considering all the necessary business processes.
First of all, it is important to clarify a number of points which are worth having your full attention. Some of them are applicable to all types of software, and some are typical only for enterprise solutions, though they are equally important.
1. Decide on the main goals and functionality of your software
Successful and efficient enterprise-level applications have several defining characteristics:
– They automate and/or eliminate routine processes;
– They have obvious value to the end-user, helping them to achieve certain goals more conveniently;
– They are flexible, secure, and fast.
The surest way to get a product that is both efficient and intuitive is to first define the end goals. What business results do you plan to achieve? Are there any KPIs to measure them?
Make a list of processes that your software should perform. Involve multiple stakeholders in the discussion process and collect feedback from different groups of end-users. You should also pay special attention to the functionality of your business strategy. There are many methodologies for more convenient analysis of business objectives. One of them is SWOT-analysis, which involves identifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities for improvement, and threats of deterioration.
Then you can formalize these needs and preferences in a list of requirements, which you will send to potential users of the software. Take into account the needs of different target groups but consider specifics. For example, if 60% of an enterprise’s portal users are workers who will log in from a mobile device, and 25% are office workers who will log in from a PC. In a situation like this, you need to give priority to the functionality that is useful to the majority and easy to use from mobile.
2. Create a prototype and a minimum viable product (MVP)
As businesses and markets change so rapidly, there is a great risk that your idea may become outdated by the time it enters the market. An entire project may fall apart if it doesn’t effectively meet your intended use.
That’s why it’s important to take the ideas you have on paper and quickly turn them into reality. The first step is to create an interactive prototype. Although this is not a complete model of your product, a prototype is the first step towards achieving your goal. This will help to systematize your ideas clearly and can be used to test the viability of individual functions. A prototype is also the first measure of user interaction, which cannot be judged by sketches.
Creating a minimum viable product (MVP) is an approach that is usually used by startups, but is now increasingly successful for development by technology companies of all sizes.
The MVP contains a minimum set of basic features and capabilities required for deployment and release for first-time users – customers who will use the product and provide honest and valuable feedback.
– Release a working version of your application or platform for first users.
– Get valuable feedback that will help shape its features and capabilities.
– Minimize risk by determining whether an idea solves a problem.
– Check and confirm assumptions.
3. Pay special attention to security
Most corporate web applications still do not meet common security standards and contain serious vulnerabilities. A security survey conducted among Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. found that up to 92% of applications have significant vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Over 30% also have weak SSL/TSL encryption, and about 7% still use outdated and vulnerable to hackers SSLv3 protocol. Finally, 98% of companies do not use the Web Application Firewall (WAF).
In other words, most corporate applications suffer from notorious but easily preventable security vulnerabilities. In most cases, they occur due to outdated IT infrastructure and the abandonment of certain security solutions.
For example, passwords have long since been a pain in the brain. They are no longer suitable for protecting critical data. According to IBM, 50% of business leaders claim that passwordless authentication mechanisms are more secure.
The most acceptable alternatives for enterprises:
– Enable N-factor authentication and OTP passwords to authenticate important application actions and/or access certain functions. However, this creates additional challenges from the end user’s perspective.
– Using Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) may be the best option for securely authenticating users through a third-party identity provider.
– The Fast Identity Online (FIDO) protocol also deserves attention, especially if you plan to enable biometric authentication as well.
4. Get the support of a strong technology partner
For successful implementation and potential promotion of high-tech enterprise solutions, software owners need a whole ecosystem of partners. One of the key roles in such an ecosystem belongs to companies of a special type – technology partners. They not only create and integrate solutions into the customer’s information system but also can extend the functionality of products, for example, with the help of advanced technologies such as AI and blockchain.
In the first place, you should pay attention to companies that work on a turnkey basis and offer a comprehensive approach to development, taking into account the specifics of the business in general and your enterprise in particular. After all, the development of corporate solutions implies support for a long period of time, and therefore reliability becomes the top priority. You should search for such companies on various rating sources such as Clutch, Extract, GoodFirms, etc. Take your time to review the company’s feedback, portfolio, and industry expertise. Another distinguishing feature of a reliable company is its comprehensive consultation on all aspects of the future product, both from the technical and business sides.
Although corporate software is one of the most difficult in terms of development and further maintenance – the benefits of such a solution implementation more than cover both money and time spendings on its development. All you have to do is to find the right team to work with and think through all the nuances!