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It's hard to say whether it's pragmatism or jaded resignation, but this year's InformationWeek Analytics/Intelligent Enterprise 2010 Enterprise Applications Survey reveals that enterprises aren't entirely happy with conventional enterprise apps--or any of the alternatives, for that matter.
ERP, CRM, and supply-chain management systems are still costly and difficult to implement, according to the 485 business technology professionals we surveyed. But they also doubt that next-generation apps will be any easier to deal with. Most enterprises have yet to fully embrace service-oriented architecture, software as a service, or business process management. Oh, sure, they're using these technologies here and there, but few survey respondents are confident that SOA, SaaS, or BPM can handle everything.
What's clear is that they're likely to combine software and either on-premises services or cloud-based services, depending on their sophistication and security concerns. The recession has put a damper on SOA and related internal composite application development initiatives. The focus has shifted to using SOA to integrate, customize, and extend existing components, particularly vendor-supplied applications.
There's plenty of growth in the use of SaaS and cloud computing, but mainly for e-mail, collaboration, and CRM. Mission-critical apps like ERP are seeing slower growth in the cloud, as many organizations aren't ready to put sensitive financial records and transactional data in the cloud.
Respondents expressed keen interest in BPM software, with its promise of user-friendly, model-driven application development, business-IT collaboration (around those models), and the kind of flexibility and adaptability that on-premises applications haven't delivered. But the surprise is how keen respondents are to get BPM tools and capabilities from their existing application vendors.
The next act in enterprise applications has yet to be written, but it looks like conventional apps, whether you love 'em or hate 'em, will continue to play a lead role at most businesses. SOA, SaaS, BPM, and other alternatives will play supporting roles.
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