Several trends are influencing the environment, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability software market. This article touches on just a few.
Software as a Service (SaaS). Ten to 15 years ago, most software was installed “on premises” on a company’s own servers, with more software installed on each user’s desktop or laptop computer. Today, Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers software differently. The software vendor installs the software on its servers and each user accesses the it through secure Internet connections, with little or no other software on their desktop or laptop computer.
More and more organizations, including Fortune 50-sized companies, are embracing SaaS, where they would not consider it five to ten years ago. Some issues that changed acceptance:
- information technology (IT) is not the core business of most organizations; adopting SaaS is a way to leverage limited IT resources.
- SaaS allows transferring some of the risk of software development, deployment, maintenance, upgrades and support to the vendors.
- they trust the SaaS providers to manage and deliver data securely, protecting sensitive information and trade secrets.
- they seek alternative cost structures with “pay-as-you-go” subscriptions rather than large up front capital expense associated with “on premises” installation.
- they can avoid hardware costs associated with traditional, “on premises” installation.
Standardization. Organizations place great value on streamlining and standardizing business processes across the organization. While most companies believe that they–or their data–are unique, the truth is, they are not that different from others. Companies can can benefit from the best practices of others within their company, as well as others within and outside of their industry.
Let me clarify… while regulatory standards and specific data points vary widely from company to company, the business processes are similar. For example, regulatory intelligence requires applicability analysis and regulatory change management processes regardless of the industry sector or regulatory topic.
Globalization. Organizations need to manage data and deliver information in context as close to real-time as possible to make sound business decisions. An enterprise-wide EHS and sustainability software solution that delivers rolled-up information from disparate operations can enhance compliance and sustainability.The leading EHS and sustainability software solutions provide multilingual capabilities without the need for translation services. This is important not only for companies with facilities spread across several continents, but also for companies that have customers spread across several continents. Think of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) and the updated OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) that require multiple language versions of a (material) safety data sheet (M)SDS.
Improved user interfaces. Users will not readily adopt software that is difficult to use. The leading EHS and sustainability software applications push beyond the competition for a reason–they are much easier for end-users to adopt. Both the “data in” and “data out” interfaces are more intuitive and visually appealing. Improvements include:
- Kinder, simpler data entry forms.
- More intuitive tabular data displays that allow “live” data sorting, filtering and “drill-down.”
- Configurable dashboards with assorted graphic, charts and tables.
- The ability to apply multiple dashboards tailored to different user needs.
- Ready access to online help.
Ease of configuration. Many EHS software providers stress ease of configuration. The software architecture allows a trained user to add new users, update reports and forms, create reports and dashboards without writing software code. Why is this important?
- the customer does not need to call the vendor or a consultant each time they need a small change.
- it allows a custom look without actually customizing the underlying software code, allowing for standard upgrades.
- companies can tailor help files to use their own terminology and to meet end-user needs.
Cloud, mobile, social and big data. These technologies–more than buzzwords–greatly influence software development. This is a good thing:
- public and private clouds allow data access 24/7 from different devices, many of them mobile.
- mobility allows data management at the point of generation; it it allows automated data gathering that in the past used clipboard- and operations log-based methods.
- in areas with limited or no Internet access,mobility allows offline data gathering with later sync to the database.
- social tools allow data sharing and collaboration through automated workflows, messaging, shared work spaces and document repositories.
- big data technologies allow quick data mining of very large data sets (1 TB and more) to spot trends.
Business and technical trends continue to shape the EHS and sustainability software market. Be up-to-date on these trends to have more informed discussions among your organization, software vendors and consultants.