Can Enterprise Software Become Plug-and-Play?

For many years, enterprise software wasn’t a plug-and-play sort of thing.

It required complex implementation, tricky configuration, and much training. What you got from the vendor wasn’t a ready-to-go product, but a generic platform that you had to customize. Instead of getting a ready solution out-of-the-box, you had to build it in first place.

Yes, having a generic platform adds a lot of flexibility and lets you adjust the system to your very specific needs. However, flexibility never comes for free. Too often, the result of a customization is a really powerful product that can do a lot, but is too difficult to use.

In many cases, I saw how this ended up with a system that users hated. For the top management, the system usually seemed to be a good investment. But for the end user, it looked like flying a huge aircraft. They didn’t understand how it worked, why doing simple things took so many clicks, and why there were so many features that they didn’t need.

The recent years show us a quite interesting trend. Plug-and-play solutions for enterprises are not nonsense any longer. Enterprise software can now provide a standard solution that solves typical needs of a typical user out-of-the-box and in addition, offer extension points when you need to adjust the system to your specific environment. For example, in DITAToo DITA CMS, we provide a plug-and-play solution that addresses the most typical needs of DITA users. Plus DITAToo provides various options to customize the system to your authoring and publishing requirements.

When enterprise software focuses on typical needs of typical users, the scale of implementation can be smaller and cover just a particular team or department within the organization. Potentially, this might mean that different teams can end up using different solutions from different vendors. This may become a nightmare of the IT department, so the question that should be addressed by the vendors is support for internationally recognized standards (by the way, this is where DITA as an open content standard can come into the picture) and ability to integrate with each other (through API or other means).

If these observations are correct, then we can see democratization of the enterprise market software. Companies without big budgets will be able to afford software that solves their needs. Just several years ago a content management system was a synonym for “huge budget”. Now even small and medium sized businesses can afford content management solutions.

Anyway, 2013 promises to be an interesting year, and we are wishing you a happy, healthy, and successful New Year!

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