This article is about software made for business, if you were looking for the business of selling software, see Software business.
Business software is generally any software program that helps a business increase productivity or measure their productivity. The term covers a large variation of uses within the business environment, and can be categorized by using a small, medium and large matrix:
- The small business market generally consists of home accounting software, and office suites such as OpenOffice.org or Microsoft Office.
- The medium size, or SME, has a broader range of software applications, ranging from accounting, groupware, customer relationship management, human resources software, outsourcing relationship management, loan origination software, shopping cart software, field service software, and other productivity enhancing applications.
- The last segment covers enterprise level software applications, such as those in the fields of enterprise resource planning, enterprise content management (ECM), business process management (BPM) and product lifecycle management. These applications are extensive in scope, and often come with modules that either add native functions, or incorporate the functionality of third-party software programs.
Now, technologies that have previously only existed in peer-to-peer software applications, like Kazaa and Napster, are starting to feature within business applications. JXTA is an open source platform that enables the creation of machine and language neutral applications.
Types of business software tools
- Digital Dashboards - Also known as Business Intelligence Dashboards, Enterprise Dashboards, or Executive Dashboards, these are visually based summaries of business data that show at-a-glance understanding of conditions through metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A very popular BI tool that has arisen in the last few years.
- Online Analytical Processing, commonly known as OLAP (including HOLAP, ROLAP and MOLAP) - a capability of some management, decision support, and executive information systems that supports interactive examination of large amounts of data from many perspectives.
- Reporting software generates aggregated views of data to keep the management informed about the state of their business.
- Data mining - extraction of consumer information from a database by utilizing software that can isolate and identify previously unknown patterns or trends in large amounts of data. There are a variety of data mining techniques that reveal different types of patterns. Some of the techniques that belong here are Statistical methods (particularly Business statistics) and Neural networks as very advanced means of analysing data.
- Business performance management (BPM)
A Brief History of Business Software
The essential motivation for business software is to increase profits by cutting costs or speeding the productive cycle. In the earliest days of white-collar business automation, large mainframe computers were used to tackle the most tedious jobs, like bank cheque clearing and factory accounting.
Factory accounting software was among the most popular of early business software tools, and included the automation of General Ledgers, Fixed Assets Inventory ledgers, Cost Accounting ledgers, Accounts Receivable ledgers, and Accounts Payable ledgers (including Payroll, Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Federal and State Insurance and Retirement) ledgers.
The early use of software to replace manual white-collar labor was extremely profitable, and caused a radical shift in white-collar labor. One computer might easily replace 100 white-collar 'pencil pushers', and the computer would not require any Health or Retirement Benefits.
Building on these early successes with IBM, Hewlett-Packard and other early suppliers of business software solutions, corporate consumers demanded business software to replace the old-fashioned drafting board. CAD-CAM software (or computer-aided drafting for computer-aided manufacturing) arrived in the early 1980s. Also, project management software was so valued in the early 1980s that it might cost as much as $500,000 per copy (although such software typically had far fewer capabilities than modern project management software such as Microsoft Project, which one might purchase today for under $500 per copy.)
In the early days, perhaps the most noticeable, widespread change in business software was the Word Processor. Because of its rapid rise, the ubiquitous IBM typewriter suddenly vanished in the 1980s as millions of companies worldwide shifted to the use of Word Perfect business software, and later, Microsoft Word software. Another vastly popular software program for business were mathematical spreadsheet program such as Lotus 1-2-3, and later Microsoft Excel.
In the 1990s business shifted massively towards globalism with the appearance of SAP software which coordinates a supply-chain of vendors, potentially worldwide, for the most efficient, streamlined operation of factory manufacture.
Yet nothing in the history of business software has had the global impact of the Internet, with its Email and Websites that now serve commercial interests worldwide. Globalism in business fully arrived when the Internet became a household word.
- Accounting software
- Construction software
- Customer relationship management
- Decision making software
- Document Automation/Assembly
- Document Management Software
- Electronic business
- Electronic performance support systems
- ERP software
- Inventory software
- Legal Matter Management
- Management information systems
- Operational risk management
- Product lifecycle management
- Project management software
- Retail Management Systems
- Retail software
- Supply chain management
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