Tapping the potential of enterprise apps

Solution providers are becoming increasingly drawn to the value of enterprise applications

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Tapping the potential of enterprise apps
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By  Piers Ford Published  July 24, 2013

As solution providers look to increase the value they can offer to clients and to move up the value chain, they are looking more and more towards enterprise applications, writes Piers Ford.

If the global enterprise applications market is going through a sluggish period, somebody forgot to tell businesses across the Middle East. Here, according to analyst IDC, software spending grew by 9.5% in 2012 – more than in any other region. And with applications forming almost 50% of the enterprise software market, there is clearly a huge appetite for the latest solutions to specific business challenges.

This is partly being driven by the need to service an increasingly distributed workforce; enterprise applications are going mobile, fast. According to Forrester, 66% of employees around the world use at least two mobile devices for work, helping to stimulate demand for the enterprise app store and leading many organisations to consider the value of personalised application clouds.

These businesses are looking for vendors that are prioritising mobile application development or creating device-agnostic applications from scratch in HTML5.

There is also a growing trend for companies to move away from internally developed, customised code to more accessible, intuitive development platforms. The rise of Microsoft’s Share Point as a Web-based application development infrastructure, capable of providing an almost limitless range of centrally-managed intranet, document management, collaboration, social-networking, enterprise-search and extranet applications, provides considerable evidence of this shift.

Many large organisations still have substantial ERP-based ecosystems. But the demand for specific Software as a Service (SaaS) applications that can be bolted on via the cloud in increasingly mobile environments, is creating new opportunities for vendors and resellers to shine in a market that was previously too expensive or complex for them to enter.

“The enterprise applications market in the Middle East is upgrading to new technologies as most enterprises are gearing up to allow access on mobile devices,” said Ali Hyder, CEO of ERP vendor Focus Softnet. “Governments and large businesses are continuing to invest in enterprise applications for IT modernisation, and verticals such as healthcare and education will continue to grow significantly faster than others.”

In addition, said Hyder, many companies are looking to lower total cost of ownership by taking advantage of a shared cost model in the adoption of business applications.

Indeed, there is a sense that many specific enterprise applications are practically being developed by the business community itself rather than IT teams and specialists. “The interesting thing is that the adoption of applications is no longer just the remit of the IT function,” said Brent Lees, senior product marketing manager at IT performance software vendor Riverbed. “Other areas of the business are making decisions about the applications to buy and invest in.”

Government initiatives across the region are playing a key role in driving this trend, particularly on the mobility front. In May, for example, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the m-Government project, which aims to have all services enabled for smartphones by 2015.

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