Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Sunday, February 17, 2019
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Enterprise Apps: Too Complicated for Mobile Workers 

Enterprise applications and the IT infrastructure used to deliver them remain too complex, prompting some to bypass sanctioned enterprise tools and instead use consumer applications to get done what needs to be done.

That reality is among the conclusions of a recent white paper on the growing complexity of enterprise applications released by "modernization platform" vendor Capriza. The startup said it surveyed more than 1,200 enterprise application end users and 300 IT executives. Almost half (45 percent) of survey respondents said current enterprise applications fell short due to complexity and "clunky" interfaces.

Emerging applications also must increasingly account for workforce mobility, and only 38 percent of respondents described their company's applications as "mobile-friendly," the Capriza survey found.

As mobility adds to complexity and cost, the resulting disruptions appear to be having a greater impact on worker productivity, customer interactions and, ultimately, a company's bottom line. As a result, the survey found that more than half of respondents acknowledged they resorted to unsanctioned consumer applications like Dropbox rather than company authorized software-as-a-service tools.

Those charged with developing and implementing enterprise applications are up against rising expectations by a workforce accustomed to simple, efficient consumer applications, many of them running on mobile platforms. A large percentage of workers simply give up on enterprise applications if they prove difficult the use, the white paper asserted.

Given the huge investments in enterprise applications, the survey notes that a "rip and replace" approach is not an option for most companies. The white paper cited an Oracle study that concluded the replacement of 1,500 licenses for an enterprise application would cost nearly $20 million if hosted on-premise and an estimated $14 million in a private cloud.

At the same time, 67 percent of IT administrators surveyed by Capriza said they expect their budgets to be cut, forcing them to do more with less.

Another cost of application complexity is lost productivity. In the case of enterprise application, that generally means "too many screens and too much information for users to parse through," the white paper asserted. Two-thirds of enterprise application users "still have to search in or navigate through an app to find the data they need for their job."

In order to improve productivity, enterprise applications must be tailored to the specific needs of users while propelling the daily workflow, the survey asserted. The best way to achieve this goal is eliminating the "white noise" of thousands of screens workers encounter when searching for actionable data.

They study noted that major IT vendors like Dell Inc. have sought a middle ground between the "rip and replace" approach to application modernization and the "refactoring" of legacy application code. The study reported that Dell recently implemented a new business management system for its SAP HANA platform by consolidating and standardizing on information most frequently used by its sales force. The result was a claimed 80 percent reduction in the time required to access applications, leaving more time for other critical tasks.

Not surprisingly, Capriza, based on Palo Alto, Calif., and backed by big name Silicon Valley investors, is offering its own solution to the application complexity problem: An enterprise modernization platform the startup claims "flips the equation" by making legacy applications "smart" and thereby easier to use while extending enterprise mobility.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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