Advances in mobile devices, wireless networking, the Internet and new technologies and apps delivered in the cloud have radically changed the enterprise software landscape. To succeed, today’s independent software vendors (ISVs) must find new ways to innovate and differentiate themselves within a highly competitive and increasingly complex marketplace where specialization and customization are taking the lead. They must radically change their processes and strategies for designing, developing and commercializing products with speed and precision.
In this new fast-paced and highly competitive industry, many ISVs are collaborating with product development specialists at the earliest stages — at the product ideation stage — to leverage their industry-specific expertise as well as best practices gathered from past experience to help ISVs successfully ideate, build and deliver superior products much faster than the competition.
Product ideation partners are not only helping ISVs build superior products or enhance existing solutions for different uses, but also are helping them transform their core processes to impact the way they deliver those solutions to end users. High-growth markets, such as healthcare and smart energy, are realizing the benefits of bringing in product development experts at the ideation stage to conceive and deliver products that stay one step ahead of the fast pace of change and help them redefine their core processes and technology infrastructure.
Below are some of the best practices that leading ISVs are implementing to transform the design development and commercialization of software.
- Leverage new usability design and technology: New design and technology approaches must keep pace with changing end-user needs. For example, the huge growth in smart phones, tablets and other connected devices creates a range of usability challenges for a consistent cross-platform experience that provides complete enterprise application functionality to end-users across devices. Added to that, differences in screen size, processing power, wireless performance and new user interfaces make it necessary to leverage the most advanced and innovative UI platforms.
According to NPD In-Stat, the connected device base will increase from 256 million devices in 2011 to at least 1.34 billion by 2016 (NPD In-Stat, Jan. 2012, “The Global Market for Connected and Smart CE Devices,” #IN1204884RC). Key industries are leveraging this trend to differentiate themselves in a crowded market. In the automotive industry, in-vehicle infotainment is becoming the mark of distinction. But how can an ISV provide complete functionality in a mobile environment while optimizing application performance? The key is to implement the latest processes and technologies in UI design and testing.
- Address the software-as-a-service trend: Shifting from a traditional on-premises software delivery model to a hosted or software-as-a-service model has fundamentally changed the economics of software and also opened up new opportunities for software developers. The nature of SaaS enables companies to reduce capital and operational costs and dramatically improve their business models. Gartner predicted that SaaS revenue would reach $14.5 billion in 2012, with strong growth predicted through 2015 when the market is expected to reach $22.1 billion (Gartner, March 2012, “Forecast: Software-as-a-Service, All Regions 2010-2015”). While this delivery model is a highly complex and multi-stage process, leading-edge software developers have embraced SaaS as a way to deliver applications to a wide range of customers, which previously were restricted because of the cost and IT requirements, cost-effectively and with little investment of customer IT resources.
- Capitalize on the power of real-time analytics: Given the growth of Big Data, one of the most powerful tools for companies today is their analytics capabilities. For many companies, huge amounts of dynamic, structured and unstructured data must be analyzed in real time in a secure environment in order to benefit the organization. According to IDC, the business analytics software market grew by 14.1 percent in 2011 and will continue to grow at a 9.8 percent annual rate, reaching $50.7 billion in 2016. Today’s software developers must develop solutions that address the pressing need for solutions that enable companies to synthesize, analyze and act upon the knowledge gained through Big Data to provide predictive intelligence in real time.
- Monetize new markets: Software transformation has the potential to open new markets and sources of significant revenue for ISVs. For example, by simply mobilizing software ISVs can take their solutions to new markets or regions. ISVs must leverage the innovation and proven product families — adapting the core technology features and tailoring them for new industries or users. Additionally, ISVs are constantly looking at next-generation products and functionality product roadmaps and will need to rebalance subject matter experts on core products and strongly ideate to meet this challenge.
- Revisit current technology practices: Modernizing traditional software development practices such as Agile, multi-site development processes, quality, automation and outsourcing of non-core product lines to free up R&D budgets are some of the ways that leading ISVs are accomplishing their transformational initiatives or software development goals. They understand that they must leverage service providers to provide best-in-class practices around core processes, products and technology. This can be accomplished utilizing product development best practices, which should combine business-level KPIs and PDLC metrics that accelerate time to market, while managing distributed development methodologies, with the ultimate goal of producing the highest-quality source code possible.
As the landscape for ISVs continues to change dramatically with innovative technologies, solutions and business models continuing to evolve, there is tremendous opportunity for companies to not only create next- generation products to meet newfound needs, but also to find new uses for existing products by adapting them to meet the needs of emerging market segments. When ISVs work in concert with product development experts to spark creativity and innovation in products, processes and technology, as well as collaborate on design, development and product delivery, true business transformation and success ensues.
Alan Harlan is general manager and executive vice president, Symphony Teleca Corp. He brings more than 25 years’ experience in IT and product development outsourcing services. Alan provides thought leadership for global ISVs leveraging transformational outsourcing for software, products and operations. He is deeply involved in enabling ISVs and captives in moving up the value chain by providing STC’s IP and framework accelerators including QA Automation, Product Modernization, Cloud Frameworks, SaaSification and cloud-based mobility platforms.