In a world where your job becomes more and more dependent on PCs, internet and SaaS applications, I find it quite hard to understand how still people can cope the current technological complexity. Everyone who works from his office- and by working I do not mean facebook- can easily understand what I am talking about.
Each day you have to open your email client, your task tracking software, your document management system (DMS) and your “live” enterprise collaboration system. And that’s just the basics. Depending on your department you may have to login to your lead management software, your project management app, your event management software, your ERP. And now that the world’s new trend, the social media, has become a part of any company’s marketing strategy, you may also have to login to facebook, twitter, linkedin or google plus.
As a result, you end up with 10 different tiny apps, others installed in your pc, others running on the cloud, which most of the times do not integrate to each other at all! So let’s say you want to schedule an online meeting. You have to send a mass email to all the participants (using gmail, outlook etc), add it to your tasks – events – calendar and use a video IM software to actually accomplish the meeting. And this is only for an everyday simple task.
Do spice it up a bit more, suppose you are a project manager of a small project and you want to organize a small team to complete a project within a week. Step 1: plan your project in a complicated software with hundreds of features that you do not use. Step 2: Create tasks in your task management software (most of the times you record other people’s tasks as your tasks in order to follow them up!). Step 3: send emails every day to the team members to get informed on the project evolution and the task completion. Step 4: update the tasks in your task management system. Step 5: use an IM software to give instructions and communicate easier with them. Step 6: Insert and update financial expenses to your ERP or financial tracker. Step 7: Use Excel! Come on we all know that in the end everyone ends to excel to take reports. How many software did you use? How much do you have to pay for all of these? IS THIS PRODUCTIVITY?
If instead of a project manager you put a marketing expert, a sales manager or any other executive position, you will end up with the same result. So why are software companies still giving these kind of solutions to you and your company? The answer is quite simple.
Back then, in the NO internet era, when companies used to rely on huge installations of software, these problems did not exist. At least not to nowadays extent. Because you usually bought an expensive software that tried to do everything. Of course, this software cost 10 times more than it should and offered 10 times more features than you needed, but you did not have a choice. Customization in such huge installations was even more expensive and software companies tried to include all features that may be required (in order to avoid customization…).
What happened when the cloud and the internet started to appear? These kind of software were totally unable to cope with the new technologies. Their chaotic structure was not able to offer the flexibility, the reduced “fly-by” and maintenance costs that are required for cloud apps. What software companies decide to do is obvious. They started to recreate their software offering 1 bit of it at a time, following this model also for their new apps. This model gave the ability to small software companies to get in the market by offering their small solutions, so everyone was happy. When the users started to complain about the fact that they have to pay 10 different companies and use 10 different software (which means training cost and support cost, apart from the basic monthly cost!), software companies offered integration.
Integration actually is not a bad idea. The problem is that again the user has to find which apps integrate with other apps and choose them respectively. Thus, you end up using a software that may not fulfill your expectations 100%, just because it can integrate with other apps that don’t fulfil your expectations 100%.
The real solution here would be a drastic change in software’s architecture, so that IT companies can offer real ‘all in one solutions’. Of course they need to integrate with other IT products, but they will be able to offer the basic tools a company need to work. Everything. From emails to documents, from real time communication to project management, from opportunities and campaigns to business intelligence. At the moment the companies who have managed to accomplish this change are few. And one of them is the host of this blog. So if you face the problems previously referred and you are tired of them, simple look around for the right all-in-one software.
George Fylaktopoulos is a senior software engineer with 9+ years of experience in Software analysis, developer of information systems, development of web applications, web services and mobile devices