This is a 5 part series on the nature of new enterprise stack, a modern set of enterprise tools that help address the challenges of productivity, engagement and culture reinforcement.

Background

Enterprises, the world over, empower their employees with a set of tools (software systems) to get the work done. I refer to this set of tools as enterprise stack. There has been a decisive shift in adoption or deployment of this stack from in-house development and on-prem deployment to onboarding of cloud native software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools. Since 2012, this adoption of SaaS tools within enterprises zoomed and can be witnessed by the growth of Workday, Atlassian, Zoho, Freshdesk et al.

Old Enterprise Stack

The old enterprise stack consisted of the following:

  1. Core backend systems deployed/adopted functionally i.e HRMS, Finance, CRM etc.
  2. Email as a primary collaboration tool with peripheral usage of chat and video conferencing tools.
  3. SaaS systems launched functionally. For example, LMS or a recognition system launched by the HR function.
  4. Intranet as a discovery and engagement platform i.e. with links to underlying tools enabled by Single Sign-On (SSO) coupled with attempts from HR and/or internal communications teams to make intranet more engaging by posting company updates and policy changes.

Drivers affecting the Old Enterprise Stack

Over the last 5 to 7 years, a few fundamental changes in the workforce and nature of work itself are pushing the enterprises to relook at their current stack for its relevance in enhancing productivity, engaging employees and reinforcing company values and culture. Few key drivers include:

  1. Power Users and UX Dissonance - Bulk of the Webapps deployed by enterprises are designed for power users or admins. Power users modify configurations, download reports, view analytics and generally manage the tools. Normal users, who account for 95% of the organization access these tools to get a specific task done. For example, taking a course, posting an appreciation note to a colleague etc. Normal Users prefer consumer like (see below) interfaces at their work.
  2. Digital Natives and Stack Dissonance - Digital natives joining enterprises use consumer tech (like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp) in their personal lives. I call this as personal stack. Webapps and MobileApps deployed by enterprises typically have clunky UX (by virtue of their dominant design for Power Users) and are way out of sync with this personal stack causing cognitive load and friction with Normal Users.
  3. Collaboration and Network Dissonance - Employees form informal networks within the enterprises to collaborate on their work. These networks criss-cross formal channels of communication. A siloed and incongruous deployment of Intranets, Chat and Video conferencing tools is causing friction and loss of productivity.
  4. App Fatigue - With the increase in the usage of mobile phones for work, enterprises rapidly adopted mobile apps for work, containerized and managed using MDM or mobile device management. Such a proliferation of work related mobile apps is causing fatigue amongst employees. For example, an employee typically uses 7 to 9 different apps for his/her day-to-day work like filing expense claim, giving feedback to a colleague, taking a learning course, applying for leave etc.

The Holy Grail

Enterprises have long aspired for a holy grail - a single system that addresses the 4 key pillars of:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Communication
  3. Engagement
  4. Work Process Automation

The New Enterprise Stack

In part 2 of this series, I'll cover the question "Is there a holy grail?" and 'What does the new Enterprise Stack look like". Watch out for part 2 and enjoy reading part 1. Please share feedback.

Image credits: Design vector created by freepik