Report reveals what enterprises need from application platforms
What are the key trends, challenges, and guiding principles when it comes to choosing the best enterprise application platforms in the 2020s? A new report delivers valuable insights for executives.
The market overview from Constellation Research — Platforms Rule Enterprise Application Success in the 2020s — takes a candid look at the challenges faced by companies charting a course through a volatile decade.
The unpredictability of what lies ahead is acknowledged in the report's own strapline: The Platforms That Power Enterprise Application Success Are Crucial in the Era of Business Best-Practice Uncertainty. And its findings will be helpful for companies looking to select an enterprise application platforms (EAP).
The coronavirus pandemic, shifting company strategies, and massive advances in technology have changed the landscape — making this report essential reading. And author Holger Mueller doesn't disappoint. As Vice President and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, he takes a firm grip of the core issues and provides helpful guidance on enterprise application platform challenges and selection.
Market trends revealed
The report picks out prominent trends emerging in the EAP arena. These include demand for a better return on research and development, as well as the need for experimental and disruptive software.
Other insights stand out too. One relates to "solution completeness" and another highlights the importance of automation.
Here, Mueller makes a stunning observation: "For far too long, enterprises have operated with incomplete and fragmented enterprise software. Workarounds, often manually operated, are still common. In an era when labor costs are quickly rising and talent is getting scarcer and scarcer, a solution’s automation completeness, ideally spanning the entire enterprise, is crucial for success."
EAPs also need to play a vital role in enabling enterprises to operate in a more autonomous way, says the report. "With economies running out of capacity and talent, it is more and more important for enterprise vendors’ software to become self-driving and autonomous," it recommends. The study highlights artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning as being key to the future of enterprise software. Within this, the "humanizing" of interactions with enterprise software will be an important area of innovation, it says.
Buyer challenges uncovered
Helpfully, the market overview delves into some of the issues swirling around as buyers consider EAP selection.
Skills shortages are a big concern generally. Companies are also getting more savvy on subscription costs and getting a return. Globalized businesses also want help with visibility, automation, and localized compliance needs.
With buyers worried about the capabilities of their EAPs, the report notes that "having fewer platforms and tools is better in an era of limited skilled resources and time pressure, so the more that can be achieved with one EAP, the better."
Another challenge is the need for enterprises to innovate faster than ever. Chief experience officers (CxOs) must show that they have the right enterprise software partner when they are looking to invest in a platform to support innovation, says the report.
Unit4 hailed as "unique"
When profiling EAP vendors, the report declares that the Unit4 People platform is "one of the most — if not the most — modern and complete EAP platforms" in its study. As well as using Unit4's suite of products, this is a platform where enterprises can enable all three key EAP usage scenarios: extend, integrate, and build, notes the report.
Unit4 is distinct in other ways too. The study identifies a key design premise and principle that an ERP needs to be "built for people, from the platform up". As one example it notes how Unit4’s digital assistant, Wanda, is pervasive across products and allows customers to create their own natural-language integration easily.
The market overview says Unit4 has one of the most modern platforms analyzed in its study. Enterprises can deploy Unit4 solutions in Microsoft Azure as well as on-premises. Meanwhile, "the people-centric design, which has influenced the platform architecture from its very inception, makes the Unit4 People Platform a unique EAP."
Unit4 scores well in other areas that speak to the mood of uncertainty hovering over the EAP marketplace and enterprises more generally. For example, Unit4 is one of only two vendors that rate "very good" for expected total cost of ownership.
Furthermore, of these two vendors, Unit4 is the only one to also be classed as "good" for CxO Comfort Factor. As the report explains, "CxO buyers must be comfortable with the vendor overall as well as being comfortable with the vendor’s offerings".
How to survive and thrive
Among its recommendations, Constellation Research highlights the need for enterprises to feel comfortable and in sync with the vendor they select, having cloud deployment options available, and being able to determine future EAP automation needs.
There's also a call for realism in terms of how quickly employees will get to grips with a new system. "History is replete with CxOs who overestimated the learning speed of their employees," says Holger Mueller, "... so CxOs need to keep an active eye on the assistance that services providers can bring to the table."
Perhaps the most significant recommendation is the call to simply "get going" when it comes to using EAPs as a tool for transformation through AI, big data, and the cloud. "The sooner an enterprise gets going, the sooner it will be creating the automation that it needs not only to survive but also to thrive in the marketplace," says the report.
Perfect timing with ERPx launch
Constellation Research's findings explain the EAP landscape helpfully. For readers, this provides valuable context for the arrival of ERPx, the next-generation solution in smart ERP from Unit4.
So many of the report's themes chime with the design and capabilities of ERPx. With this new and agile ERP solution, enterprises can succeed in an uncertain world.
They can respond quickly to market disruption, leverage data-driven insights, seize new opportunities, and boost resilience. This can be achieved through an adaptable cloud platform that's fast to deploy and offers continuous access to new features to improve processes and analytics.
The employee experience also changes dramatically for the better. Companies can create leaner ways of working using AI-powered tools that free up people from repetitive tasks, while a digital assistant builds task-driven experiences. Put simply, companies can aggregate data and applications into a single platform for a simplified and seamless journey across devices. What's more, tech-savvy employees can act as ‘citizen developers’ and provide quick adjustments without needing coding skills.
In a more volatile world, ERPx also creates greater certainty for enterprises. They can standardize, automate and align processes to ERP best practice for enhanced security and efficiency. In fact, they can align automatically to industry regulations to remain compliant.
Meanwhile, advanced holistic reporting tools make it easier to understand business performance quickly — and see the impact of tactical changes, while keeping a firmer control of costs.