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Consumerization of Software: Mega Trends That Will Transform Your Consultancy

Javier Baldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
“If I spend so much of my day using these enterprise software products, why are they so difficult to use?” If you’ve heard (or said) this before, you aren’t alone. There is a technology and design shift underway called the Consumerization of Software and it’s impacting our expectations surrounding software and the way we do business. Earlier, I kicked off our blog series on transformative trends with some statistics about the Millennial workforce. Today, I want to shed some light on a concept called the Consumerization of Software. Over the next few months, follow along as we take an in-depth look into more developments that will affect the future of the architecture and engineering industry, both tomorrow and beyond. Trend TWO: CONSUMERIZATION OF SOFTWARE Here’s the issue: many of the enterprise software solutions used by engineering consultancies today are often cumbersome and hard to use. That’s because in most instances, the systems were designed fifteen to twenty years ago – without the context of widespread internet and smart phone usage. These outdated interfaces offer distinctly different user experiences when compared to the modern applications of today. Not surprisingly, this does not make users happy. WHAT IS THE CONSUMERIZATION OF SOFTWARE? Simply put, the Consumerization of Software is all about making things easier. Think about your own life. At home, we use mobile apps to connect with loved ones, manage our grocery lists, and even order pizza. Why? Because they make our lives easier. They save us time and money. Our workforce is now coming to the office with that same ease-of-use mindset and because of this, we have seen a shift in expectations around software. Your employees want intuitive, usable, and beautifully designed applications. And they don’t just want them in their personal lives, they want them professionally. Software today must meet the standards of user experiences that engineers have in their everyday lives--think about popular fitness apps, banking apps, or even parking apps. Systems design is steering away from the overly complicated and moving toward the user-friendly, and much of this will be driven by Millennials. What DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESS COMPUTING? In short -- Big change. In 2012, Future Simple CEO Uzi Shmilovici shared 3 predictions on the future of enterprise software: A new class of enterprise software will emerge — As new user experience paradigms become more prevalent, a new generation of business software will transpire. With a strong focus on user experience and making software usable for more than just managers, but end users themselves, this new generation of software will take hold quickly and provide a lot of value for a fraction of the cost. We will see a dramatic shift in discovery channels — Today people find new apps via social media, peer recommendations, search, or through their app store. There’s no need for a special committee to choose the right software when you can rely on credible ratings and recommendations. Many traditional vendors will fail to adopt—The truth is that it is not easy to adapt when you are sitting on top of a complex legacy code that barely runs in a modern browser, let alone on a new device. And, many vendors simply won’t make the investment. Fast forward four years after those predictions and one thing is certain--the future is here and there is still work to do. According to a 2016 Tech Pro Research survey, 44% of respondents say UX is lacking with enterprise software when compared to consumer software. Yet, even Gartner asserts that “competitive advantage hinges on exceptional user experience.” The need for a better user experience is paramount. Over the next few years, the devices and software that we use in our work environments will evolve into something dramatically different. The question is: Will you keep up? Do you feel the strains of consumerization at your organization? Share your story in a comment below. Author’s Note: This is the second post in a series on major trends affecting the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry.