The collective App Economy

When multiple small apps band together, they can upend the status quo – this is the new collective app economy. Today, new technology is allowing this to happen:

  • Allowing enterprises to mix and match best of breed apps without the need for complex and expensive integration projects.
  • Allowing each vendor to be on top of its own food chain.
  • Allowing new business models to outperform the existing ones in the enterprise software business.
  • Allowing app stores, for example, to deliver interoperating apps and to be truly polylithic.

The ’best of breed’ app vendors often have an innovative edge because of their focus and domain knowledge. Though they still cannot check off as many boxes as the big vendors with their ecosystem of piggy-backers, and buyers shun complex, expensive, lengthy and risky integration projects.

The incumbent software platforms will not be replaced by a single app, no matter how elegant, intuitive, and powerful the app is. That’s because a single app can never replace the full functionality of the large players’ platforms. The best of breed apps must be able to be mixed-and-matched without the need for complex integration projects.
A single mobile payment app, for example, cannot replace a full retail solution. However, combining best of breed apps for accounting, product stock and point of sales results in a virtual retail suite that can outperform the larger players. These new apps are promising and must meet two critical conditions to gain any significant market share:

  1. It must be possible to run multiple independent business apps by different vendors side by side in a modern web user interface. Together they create your virtual business solution.
  2. The apps must operate on the same set of data without knowing about each other. All apps being aware of all other apps simply does not scale. APIs have been the peer-to-peer glue between apps for 50 years, and independent business apps still do not operate on a single set of data. As new technology is now solving the vital, if not all, components of the ”shared data and shared screen” problems, this will have a major impact for enterprise software vendors and enterprises.

Time to band together

The enterprise software landscape will change dramatically in the near future. The new software landscape will be simultaneously fragmented and connected, with new business models created by collaboration among many small vendors.

It is time for vendors and talents to band together in order to provide businesses with the freedom to use the best tools needed to meet their goals, instead of being locked into a single vendor that is a jack of all trades, but master of none.