Back in the 1980s computing was about applications like Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect, and dBase for data access and storage. The IBM PC was king. Next came the Windows and Apple led revolution in Graphic User Interface operating system computing that continues to this day.
Since 2000 a relatively small number of generic applications has dominated the market. Each addresses a functional need in a horizontal approach to the market. These generic applications include Excel, Word, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Acrobat, Sage, QuickBooks, McAfee, and Sophos.
Meanwhile, the number of business applications used by each company has exploded! On average, companies below 1,000 employees have 22 custom applications; and companies of 1,000 – 5,000 employees have an average of 44 custom applications each (reference McAfee https://www.skyhighnetworks.com/cloud-security-blog/every-company-is-a-software-company-today/ ).
This software explosion happened because no generic, multi-market application can be perfectly customised and configured to the needs of an individual business. Generic applications don’t know what each business needs to organise, monitor, capture, process and report on. Vertical market specific, customisable applications plus business process consultancy augment the generic to give businesses the facts and figures they need.
In the last decade mobile computing hit the mass market, expanding the arena that ‘software’ can be deployed in. Cloud computing likewise. Applications now run across different platforms, from personal computer or workstation, to mobile phone or tablet, or smart screen/board. There’s a blurring of the boundary between work and social and more flexibility about where things are done.
One type of computing or one type of software won’t fit all. In 2020 and beyond, application software will be increasingly specific to a vertical market, and increasingly cloud-based. It will enable multi-platform working, easy customisation and integration with complementary, specialist and generic applications.
And then we have the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Computing is combined with business process consultancy to model, design and implement customer focused software solutions. Successful application software solutions in the Health and Care marketplace in the 2020s will, I believe, follow this model to deliver productivity gains and methods to measure customer satisfaction and workforce wellbeing. The outcomes will be better long-term profitability for customers and better outcomes for service users.
Pete Briggs, Head of Operations
Ulysses (UDMS Ltd)