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The conscious decoupling of IT applications

Over the last couple of decades, the IT industry has become increasing complex as IT professionals are forced to manage and secure a growing number of devices, including everything from traditional laptops, desktops, servers and switches to new internet-enabled devices like wearables, smart appliances, and other IoT devices entering the workplace. Unfortunately, the applications IT professionals have at their disposal to manage these devices have also become more complex.    

Today’s IT management tools are relics of years past. Often, they rely on monolithic architectures that can take weeks or months to deploy, and over time, become difficult to navigate and even harder to derive value from. Additionally, traditional IT management tools haven’t been designed to respond to IT professionals’ behaviour, their individualised needs, or predict what they may need next.   

The IT management industry must chart a new path that helps IT professionals manage an increasingly complex workday - a path that includes decoupling monolithic IT management systems in the same way Google has separated its productivity suite into individual, purpose-built applications, such as Calendar and Gmail, that integrate and share data to get smarter over time.    

While this is not a new phenomenon in consumer technology, it is a relatively new development in the enterprise market, and it’s another example of how consumerisation is creating a new norm for the enterprise space. IT pros want bite-size applications for specific tasks, rather than monolithic applications that try to be everything to everyone. But why is this development happening, and how will it impact the way IT applications are designed in the future?

Consumerisation of the enterprise

There’s an expectation that the way we engage with applications as consumers should be no different than how we do so in our professional capacity. Enterprise tools, including IT management applications, are put in place to make employees’ lives easier and help them fulfil any task with ease and efficiency. 

However, developments to “decouple” and simplify applications in the consumer and enterprise tech space aren’t necessarily moving at the same speed.    An example in the consumer space is when Uber decided to include food delivery in its offerings and created a new application to simplify the user experience. It integrated the framework behind the app so customers could sync the two applications together and use the same payment details. However, the separate experiences allow consumers that aren’t interested in food delivery to avoid seeing irrelevant features in the ride-sharing application.    

Business applications should follow the same principles, similar to the path Google is charting with G Suite. With a selection of several purpose-built applications, employees can organise workloads, manage email, and share files when they need to without having to navigate one master application with hundreds of features. The individual applications remain in sync with each other to simplify the workday. 

For example, employees can schedule a meeting in Calendar, receive a meeting reminder in Gmail, join the video meeting through Hangouts, and quickly share slides stored in Google Drive, but they aren’t forced to deploy the entire suite if they choose not to.

The push toward bite-size, agile applications  

The need for more manageable, purpose-built applications in IT, similar to what G Suite offers for business end users, is a common theme among IT professionals in Spiceworks. They’re seeking tools that are more intuitive to their needs and provide immediate value so they can quickly solve the task at hand and get back to their busy day.    

By leveraging the nimbleness and power of the cloud, the IT industry can evolve beyond monolithic IT management applications that attempt to be the “one-stop shop” for managing a company’s devices, troubleshooting connectivity issues, gathering network insights, supporting help desk tickets, and more. As we’ve learned from IT professionals, these applications are difficult to deploy, even more difficult to navigate, and can become bloated with features and functionality that is difficult to find and often only applicable to a small subset of users.    

On the other hand, individual, cloud-based IT applications that deliver faster time-to-value and communicate with each other to become more intelligent and personalised over time can significantly simplify how IT professionals get their jobs done.    

Just as consumers expect applications that are easy to use and intuitive to their needs, IT professionals are demanding the same level of simplicity and will naturally gravitate toward providers that deliver on this promise.

Tabrez Syed, VP of Products at Spiceworks
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa

Tabrez Syed is the VP of Products at Spiceworks.