Online applications – the next step …

Zoho and Google Docs are two famous examples for provider of online applications offering spreadsheets, document writing, notebooks, calendar, databases, wikis and much more online in the web without the need to install anything on your desktop. These applications have been improved to an extent that they provide lots of features meanwhile so that they become a true and useful replacement for desktop software, and also their user interfaces became so dynamic that sometimes it is hard to figure out the difference between a desktop and a web based application.

All these offerings so far have been what I would call multi-purpose tools you can use for everything during your business day.

Today Lifehacker had an article about a new offering from Zoho: Zoho People. The aim of this offering is to help your company’s HR department keep track of the org chart, recruit candidates, and quickly fill out expense and vacation forms.

After having looked at their home page and screen shots I got the feeling that online applications take the next step now. After coming up with multi-purpose tools in the recent years now the first more business specifc web applications hit the market, this one targeting Human Resource Management for companies.

How long will it take until companies run their entire business based on web applications ?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) including Material Requirements Planning (MRP), Stock / Inventory Management, Manufacturing Capacity Planning and Work Load Optimization, Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), Risk and Compliance solutions and Performance Management – so far everything what SAP has to offer -, Project Management, more Human Resource Management applications, and you name it …

When will all those applications be available as an easy to access and use online application ? What will be the licensing model for those offerings and what gurantee do users have that their data is safe and accurate when using those applications ?

Let me predict here that this will become a huge market in the next years.

Besides the risk, imagine the potential: if multiple supplier use the same SCM applications on the web, wouldn’t it be easier to connect those in order to better manage the entire supply chain covering all suppliers of a particular product manufacturer ? If through smart web2.0 technology and social software we can achieve to plug in Market Demand Management on the other side based on direct customer and consumer input, could we come up with the fully automated supply chain management solution by simply having integrated customer demand and supplier inventory and pipelines ?

Could applications like Zoho People access social networks in the future to discover other useful candidates to apply for an open job ? Could those HR applications explore automatically the skill of a candidate by scanning through his blog posts and wiki contributions ?

What other idea did come up in your mind after reading this ?

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