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As soon as the cloud began to gain traction, it was clear that traditional business tools were no longer going to enjoy the easy dominance that had become the status quo. Yet while SaaS adoption has more than quintupled since 2011, enterprise software is still held mostly by the old guard — long-established players like Microsoft and Adobe have rebranded in the cloud, but it’s more of a sales tactic than a fundamental shift.

Even still, the ecosystem of countless apps built specifically for business are creeping their way into the enterprise market through the BYOA phenomenon. While these new apps are promising, there are two conditions that are critical to get any significant traction in market share at this level.

Makers of the best-of-breed apps will gain momentum in the enterprise ecosystem through smart sales from the bottom up and strategic integrations greater than the sum of their parts.

The app economy has changed the sales process

Historically, enterprise software was sold to companies by sales teams pitching CIOs and purchasing managers. With the consumerization of tech, products now enter a company from the bottom up, rather than the top down. But even a few hundred users spread out across an organization is not really a win without the company’s endorsement. This begins by leveraging popularity with employees to kick-start the conversation, but it ends with a solid case for software consolidation and expansion, and enterprise-friendly features including usage visibility, administrative control, and multi-user pricing options.


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The massive software suites purchased by IT are fully loaded with tools and features built to do a thousand different functions for a thousand different types of users. These products are over-engineered tools that are cumbersome to use and difficult to learn, and this doesn’t change when they move to the cloud in an attempt to keep up with changing trends.

Against this backdrop, it’s only natural that employees gravitate toward lightweight apps built for niche audiences that have universal accessibility and do just one or two things, but do them very well. These apps have the unique ability to dive deep into the specific needs of their user base and cater great solutions for them. Capitalizing on this will push adoption deeper into an organization, providing much more leverage to close the deal.

The collective app economy is key

When multiple small tools band together, they can upend the status quo. This is today’s new collective app economy. In order for an app to gain traction in the enterprise, it needs the help of a whole host of complementary apps.

The incumbent software players won’t likely lose sleep over one single app, no matter how elegant, intuitive, and powerful it may be. That’s because a single cloud app can never replace the full functionality of their products.

An email marketing program cannot replace a major CRM solution, but in conjunction with customer service, loyalty, and social marketing apps, we are suddenly looking at a sophisticated solution that can hold its own against the larger players.   Another example of this sort of mash up could look like: Zendesk for support, KissMetrics for analytics and Hootsuite for the social marketing.

Open API’s and single sign-on integrations allow apps from multiple vendors to provide a seamless experience for their shared customers. Case and point, 64 percent of Fortune 500 companies have moved into Google Apps.

Find that sweet spot and win

While the enterprise software landscape has been historically slow to change over the past 15 years, we should expect a big shift on the horizon. The new software landscape will be simultaneously fragmented and connected, with increased collaboration from many small vendors.

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

Karl Sun is the CEO of Lucid Software, the creator of Lucidchart and Lucidpress, web-based diagramming and design apps. Follow @lucidchart and @lucidpress.

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