Arghh!! Techies are obsessed with coining new terms and phrases every other day. Repackage, create hype and sell. That has been the strategy yielding good results for so long. Web & Web 2.0, VR & Metaverse, Big Data & Data Science, IoT & Edge Computing. There are endless examples. The entire community does it in such a way that it seems “Yeah, this new term was almost very essential.” But there are repercussions. Because you produce so many terminologies, it f*cks with the brain. It confuses. The same is true with the phrase “enterprise app development”. The Internet is full of posts explaining “What is enterprise app development?”
Surprisingly, everyone has varying definitions. They are all right.
Yes, in the absence of any standard, and when the culture in the tech community is to coin your phrases, how could anyone be wrong?
Whitelabelling was more prevalent in the retail sector, but now it seems tech is stealing the thunder from retail. Literally. Some peeps would fork an open-source package, make slight changes, and push it into a new repository as their original open-source project with a new name. It could get frustrating at times. Especially, when it confuses people. Anyway, I would continue ranting in some other post, here, let’s clear the fog around “enterprise application development”.
Read this insight to understand-
- What is enterprise app development and what is not?
- What are the different types of enterprise applications?
- Which are the other phrases that are interchangeably used for it?
- What are the characteristics of enterprise application development?
What is Enterprise App Development and What is Not?
Enterprise app development refers to the process of creating software applications specifically designed to meet the needs and requirements of organizations, businesses, and enterprises.
These applications are developed to address the unique challenges and complexities faced by large-scale businesses, including scalability, security, and integration with existing systems. Enterprise apps are typically used to:
- Streamline and optimize various business processes
- Enhance productivity, and
- Facilitate communication and collaboration within an organization.
Example of an enterprise app development–
A supply chain management application development project which is to be used by an eCommerce company, or set of companies could be considered as enterprise application development.
What’s not enterprise application development?
Any application development project whose intended audience is not business is not enterprise application development. They will be consumer applications. For example, gaming apps, eCommerce applications, utility & productivity applications, etcetera.
What are the Types of Enterprise App Development?
Well, Wikipedia has a comprehensive list on types of enterprise application types– Data warehouse management tools, product information management, product lifecycle management, software configuration management, billing, accounting, and invoicing software in addition to a few common ones across most organizations-
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP):
Integrates core business processes such as finance, HR, procurement, and manufacturing into a single system.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
Manages customer interactions, tracks leads, and helps businesses build and maintain customer relationships.
Supply Chain Management (SCM):
Optimizes the management of the supply chain, including procurement, production, distribution, and logistics.
Human Resource Management (HRM):
Focuses on managing human resources, including employee data, payroll, and performance.
Business Intelligence (BI):
Provides tools for analyzing and visualizing business data to support decision-making.
Content Management System (CMS):
Manages digital content, facilitating collaboration in content creation and publication.
Which are the other phrases that are interchangeably used for it?
Well, the very first thing is “enterprise app development” gets confused with “mobile app development”, “consumer app development”, and “business app development”. Let’s bust the myths one by one-
Are enterprise app development and mobile app development the same?
There could be overlapping zones, but enterprise app development and mobile app development aren’t the same.
Mobile app development is often for end consumers i.e., individual consumers. Each user has their private data. For instance, the G-mail mobile app is a consumer-facing application. While internal tools that Gmail might be using to ensure that each user’s data remains secure is an enterprise app.
Mobile apps are usually standalone apps. Enterprise applications often need integration with multiple applications to be functional.
Aren’t enterprise app development the same as consumer app development?
Not at all. Consumer apps are always focused on individuals, not businesses. There isn’t much difference between WhatsApp and Slack. But Whatsapp is a consumer-facing app, and Slack is an enterprise application. This is because WhatsApp is used by individual users, and Slack is used by enterprises for internal communications. Slack has features where you can integrate it with your email tools, project management tools, team management apps, meeting & calendar apps, and whatnot. See the point? Enterprise applications are integration-heavy and business use-case-focused. That’s what differentiates enterprise application development from consumer-focused applications.
Ah, Okay! At Least enterprise app development and business app development are the same. Right?
Kind of. But there is a thin line that singles out enterprise apps from business apps. Business apps can often be for specific departments. The difference lies in the scope of usage. A business app can be something like PowerPoint slides designing an application or a time tracking application, etcetera. While enterprise applications can be department-focused, their scope will always be broader. For example, if it is a marketing tool for SEO. It won’t just give you the keywords and volume, but it will integrate with your CMS and website to give you traffic data, and then with your leads and sales tools, to track lead conversions, etcetera.
What are the characteristics of enterprise application development?
Traditionally, enterprise applications used to be very sophisticated and complex in terms of how they were built. Their security was top-notch compared to normal apps. They had the best quality infrastructure. Mostly, on-premise. Access to hardware resources and coding talent was an edge/leverage that large enterprises had over the small ones. Keeping data secure was about protecting it against external threats, and managing internal access rights of different departments. Whilst consumer apps were not that good. So, when anyone had to build high-quality apps, they banked on the analogy “build enterprise-grade applications”.
Now, with cloud computing democratizing hardware access to everyone, and exponentially plummeting the cost of development, enterprises are too forced to move to the cloud. With that, there isn’t much difference between the consumer apps and enterprise apps. It is just about how they are designed, and their use case. Yet, there are some characteristics unique to enterprise app development.
Enterprise apps are designed for scalability. In general, enterprise applications are supposed to handle large amounts of data as the business grows. Additionally, B2B enterprise applications that are shipped to customers as SaaS, need to not just deal with data, but also a large number of users as well. For instance, we discussed earlier about enterprise eCommerce platforms. Now, any of those platforms that provide managed services, such as Shopify has to process the data for millions of customers across the world daily. If these enterprise apps are not designed to manage big data, and esp the infrastructure during peak hours, the apps would crash causing huge losses for the business.
With huge opportunity, comes huge responsibility. The data these enterprise apps manage are critical and sensitive, and thus they must be encrypted while storing. Proper authentication and authorization mechanisms must be in place for these apps to be secure.
As explained in the example for Slack, enterprise apps are designed to seamlessly integrate with other apps & technologies for enhanced usability, and interoperability across teams.
Unlike consumer applications, enterprise apps are architected in a way such that they can be customized for individual organizations. Each organization has its own workflow and process requirements. Enterprise app development teams are cognizant of this and hence they make software such that it is decoupled and customized easily to accommodate the specific needs of every organization. You cannot customize WhatsApp, but you can customize AWS as per your needs.
Enterprise applications adhere to industry standards and government-specified regulations. Not that consumer apps do not need to. They too need to comply.
Lastly, collaborating is a key characteristic of enterprise application development. Often teams need to work on the same applications to get their responsibilities discharged. For example, marketing and sales may often need to collaborate on Knowledge management applications and lead management tools. Another good common example could be project management tools, where almost all the departments involved in the project have to share a common dashboard to stay in sync with the project’s progress.
The way forward to proceed with enterprise application development
Hope that pretty much sums up what is enterprise application development. If you’re keen on developing an enterprise application for your org, you can either use another low-code tool or no-code tool or go for custom app development from scratch. Often, legacy systems and infrastructure architecture become technical debt in the long run. To avoid these always stick to modern development paradigms and best practices. Right now, microservices in the cloud are in all rage. Ensure that your organization has enough policies and tools in place to help teams collaborate, esp IT & business. If you seek help with shortlisting vendors for enterprise application development, feel free to share your project requirements with me. As I interact with a lot of entrepreneurs who are into providing enterprise solution development, I might help you identify the vendor who is best suited for delivering your projects.