Enterprise Applications: Act Two
It's difficult to say whether it's pragmatism or jaded resignation, but this year's InformationWeek Analytics/Intelligent Enterprise 2010 Enterprise Applications Survey reveals that enterprises aren't entirely happy with conventional enterprise applications--or any of the alternatives for that matter.
ERP, CRM and supply-chain management systems are still costly and difficult to implement, according to the 485 business technology professionals who responded to the survey. What's more, they doubt that next-generation applications will be any easier to handle. As for the alternatives, most enterprises have yet to fully embrace services-oriented architecture, software as a services or business process management. Oh sure, they're using these technologies here and there, but few survey respondents are confident that SOA, SaaS or BPM can handle everything.
What's clear is that they're likely to combine software and services. Whether that's on-premises services or cloud-based apps and services will depend on the sophistication and security concerns of the individual enterprise. The economy has put a damper on SOA fervor, with interest cooling in elaborate, internal composite application development initiatives. The focus has shifted to using SOA to integrate, customize and extend existing components, particularly vendor-supplied applications.
There's plenty of growth in the use of SaaS and cloud computing, but mainly for e-mail, collaboration and CRM. Mission-critical apps like ERP are seeing slower growth, and our research reveals that many organizations aren't ready to put sensitive financial records and transactional data in the cloud.
Finally, our readers expressed keen interest in BPM. It promises user-friendly, model-driven application development, business-IT collaboration (around those models) and the kind of flexibility and adaptability that on-premises applications haven't delivered. But the surprise in our research is just how keen respondents are to get BPM tools and capabilities from their existing applications vendors.
The next act has yet to be written, but it looks like conventional enterprise applications--love 'em or hate 'em--will continue to play a lead role at most businesses. SOA, SaaS, BPM and other alternatives will play supporting roles.