November 11, 2015

Enterprise application software — generalities

This is part of a three-post series on enterprise application software over the decades, meant to serve as background to a DBMS2 post on issues in enterprise apps.

1. There can actually be significant disagreement as to what is or isn’t an enterprise application. I tend to favor definitions that restrict the category to (usually) server software, which manages transactions, customer interactions, financial records and things like that. Some other definitions are even more expansive, including personal productivity software such as Microsoft Office, computer-aided engineering systems and the like.

2.  Historically, application software has existed mainly to record and route information, commonly from people to machines and back. Indeed, one could say that applications are characterized by (up to) five (overlapping) aspects, which may be abbreviated as:

The first four of those five items fit into my “record and route information” framework.

That categorization ties into a number of my previous posts. In particular:

3. Application software can live either in suites or as point solutions. Reasons for the suite choice can include:

4. Acquiring application software is usually a big deal, especially in the case of suites. After all, the main point of getting application software is to change the way you do business. Indeed, the cost of application software commonly includes:

Choosing SaaS (Software as a Service) delivery can obviate some of these issues — but only some.

Sometimes the previous paragraph is actually a great understatement; adopting software can involve major changes in how you run your business, well beyond what can be covered by a bit of employee education about new software features. To pick a couple of historical, generic examples:

The difficulty of adoption leads not just to high costs, but also to long projects and high project failure risk as well.

*MRP = Materials Requirement Planning. MRP II = Manufacturing Resource Planning.

5. With the software itself often being only a small part of the pie, there’s naturally a lot of interest among vendors in capturing other revenue as well. For starters I’d say:


6 Responses to “Enterprise application software — generalities”

  1. Enterprise application software — vertical and departmental markets | Software Memories on November 11th, 2015 5:30 am

    […] The first lays out very general issues in understanding and subdividing this multi-faceted sector. […]

  2. Notes on the technology supporting packaged application software | Software Memories on November 11th, 2015 5:32 am

    […] The first lays out very general issues in understanding and subdividing this multi-faceted sector. […]

  3. Issues in enterprise application software | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on November 11th, 2015 8:39 am

    […] with this post, I’m putting up a three post series on the history of enterprise apps. Takeaways include but are not limited […]

  4. Oracle as the new IBM — has a long decline started? | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on December 31st, 2015 6:28 am

    […] A significant fraction of my posts, in this blog and Software Memories alike, are probably at least somewhat relevant to this sweeping discussion. Particularly germane is my 2012 overview of Oracle’s evolution. Other posts to call out are my recent piece on transitioning to the cloud, and my series on enterprise application history. […]

  5. Some checklists for making technical choices | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on February 15th, 2016 11:27 am

    […] One of those (the same month) briefly surveyed actual choices in technology support for enterprise apps. […]

  6. Coordination, the underused “C” word – Cloud Data Architect on March 4th, 2017 1:32 am

    […] This also all fits with the “route” part of my claim that “historically, application software has existed mainly to record and route information.” […]

Leave a Reply

Feed including blog about software history Subscribe to the Monash Research feed via RSS or email:


Search our blogs and white papers

Monash Research blogs

User consulting

Building a short list? Refining your strategic plan? We can help.

Vendor advisory

We tell vendors what's happening -- and, more important, what they should do about it.

Monash Research highlights

Learn about white papers, webcasts, and blog highlights, by RSS or email.