How many of you use software in your work life? Silly question if you're reading this on LinkedIn, right? Software is as abundant in business as air is to breathing. You can't escape it, you can't live without it.
Have you ever tried to introduce or change the software someone uses? It can be the most difficult professional activity you can attempt. I like to think of it like SCUBA diving. Our business needs to collect the treasure at 100m under water. Of course you need air, but what will you choose? A full deep sea suit? A tank of oxygen on your back? A long rubber hose with one end duct taped to the stern of the boat? All can get you air, but try convincing a SCUBA instructor to use the rubber hose :)
Given the inseparability of software with business and our tendency to fiercely resist change, a cycle emerges in our use of software born from two forces: simplicity and specialization.
We can see the effect of simplicity on people, process, and technology. Fewer people means fewer human errors. Fewer steps means a smaller potential for error and greater ease in pin-pointing failure points. Less technology means fewer choices on where work is done, less overall education required to learn the fewer technologies, fewer potential breaches, etc.
Simplicity leads companies to consolidate.
Simplicity leads companies to consolidate. To realize the benefits of simplicity, more workloads are added to fewer softwares. An example of this is an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. ERPs are designed to centralize financials, supply chain, operations, commerce, reporting, manufacturing, and human resource activities. Seems like a dream, right?
Why doesn't every business just use an ERP, then? I've learned a ton of reasons in my experience, but they boil down to price, leadership & features. To adopt an ERP, you need a hefty budget, unwavering insistence by management to use the ERP, and the right set of features to actually do the work efficaciously. If these are missing, the ERP can become a very expensive virtual paperweight.
When consolidation fails, specialization erupts.
When consolidation fails, specialization erupts. Think about your department right now. Do you use a CRM? Do you use a project management system? Do you have an app for accounting? If the answer is yes, then you're likely benefiting from specialized apps. Hubspot, Asana, and Quickbooks all strive to do specific workloads well. They offer unique features catered to their user base. This also likely means different departments are using different apps for their workloads. As work becomes more specialized, the likelihood of siloing, duplication, lack of transparency, and errors also increase.
Consolidation is expensive and limits productivity on workloads.
Specialization leads to isolated workloads, tribal knowledge and lack of transparency.