Covid-19 was a major factor in the past 2 years in accelerating many innovative tools, especially in the conference call, work from home and shared online workspace area, with software developers key in not only conceptualising tools but also in developing them for market.
From a business perspective it’s worth understanding what’s out there in terms of software and what the advantages are for off-the-shelf products as compared to custom development, and which may work better depending on your needs.
Reviewing Off-the-Shelf Software solutions
Commercial software has been developed for the mass market and offers users a range of fairly uniform and simple features
It’s advantages include:
· A more cost-effective option
· Quick to implement
· Updates regularly and automatically
· Oftentimes comes with professional support included
· Offers enough functionality to get you up and running
On the downside, though, it can:
· Come with limited flexibility and customisation capability
· Upgrades can become costly
· May not have exactly the right functionality for your needs
· May not integrate with your other systems or work processes
In contrast, bespoke software solutions are custom-built to your needs and can offer a range of advantages including:
· Control over development time and cost
· Staged development to flex and grow capability as you need it
· Specific functionality to match your exact needs
· Easier integration into existing systems and processes
· Individual updates and support
· Easier integration into your teams from a training perspective
Of course, there are some downsides, including:
· Generally higher initial costs (although these can be mitigated over time)
· A development and implementation lead time
· Potential resistance from staff over complexity (if applicable to your solution)
As 2022 progresses and we start to look forward to an even more normal 2023, what are some of the software trends we’ve noticed and that you should look out for as options to lean your business processes down and improve efficiencies?
#1 Cross-platform Apps
Building native Apps can be a costly exercise but they do offer increasingly good functionality and features that other digital platforms can’t match.
One of the most promising developments has been the rise of custom-built mobile responsive apps – these are effectively mobile sites that offer almost all the functionality of a native app but cost a lot less and take far less time to develop.
A combination of custom software development and a digital ‘shopping mall’ of widgets and other off-the-shelf software can be combined to give an overall custom function and feel whilst avoiding a lot of the disadvantages of both types of software.
They are also easier to maintain and update, have a broader reach across audiences because they operate on various platforms, devices and browsers and are not dependent on users having an App Store account, and are well-optimised in terms of performance.
They also tend to integrate well with other software platforms and can be customised to suit whatever your business needs.
#2 Easier, faster and broader integration
Customer expectations of a smooth and seamless multi-platform, multi-device experience on business’s digital platforms has driven demand for more cohesive and flexible integration between various pieces of software.
For example, a customer on an online shop might switch from their laptop to their mobile and want to add a bunch of items to a basket, recommend some of them to friends, pay for some of the items using a rewards card system and other items using Apple Pay.
The online shop needs to have software to support all of those functions, each f which is a different piece of software integrated using APIs.
It is essential to consider your customer journeys and make sure you integrate your software to serve the best experience across all devices and platforms.
#3 Cloud Technology
Cloud capability has risen sharply in the last two years as the demand for off-site and hosted software development has increased.
Platforms like Amazon Web Service and Microsoft Azure offer developers fast, secure, flexible and mobile bases from which to develop, and offer a range of tools and support to accelerate development time and improve output.
As we look to the future, these trends will continue, and add to the mix the integration of AI and Machine Learning, making for a bright and innovative few years to come!