Enterprise software is a booming business
Technology is irrevocably woven into the fabric of daily business. Most of us would be hard pressed to think of one day in the past month in which we didn’t use some form of technology. In fact, most of us couldn’t even think of a recent work day in which we didn’t use some kind of enterprise software.
As ubiquitous as it is useful, enterprise software is big business. Several of the world’s largest software companies specialize in enterprise software, and the Top 10 enterprise software companies generated US $22.5 billion in revenues in 2008, according to the latest Software Top 100 research.
Nevertheless, enterprise software is a young market, born out of the convergence of ERP, CRM and SCM markets. Walldorf, Germany-based SAP initially made ERP popular in corporate business. In 1972, five former IBM employees – Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, and Claus Wellenreuther – launched the company with the goal of developing software that would allow real-time business processing to help businesses link their processes and information. They succeeded beyond their wildest imagination.
SAP’s software allowed different departments to communicate with each other, a unique feature for the time, and over the next few years businesses across the globe embraced the concept. When HRM and CRM functions were added, the software became even more useful for large businesses and by the 1990s nearly every large corporation began utilizing ERP software, with SAP as a leading provider.
Today, the German giant continues to lead the market with software revenues of €8,197 million (FY 2009). With services for companies of all sizes across 25 industries, SAP has gained more than 95,000 customers in 120 countries.
In Canada, the firm offers what it calls a “comprehensive range of enterprise software applications and business solutions to empower every aspect of your business.” SAP enterprise software offerings include: Business Suite, Customer Relationship Management, ERP, Product Lifecycle Management, Supply Chain Management, Supplier Relationship Management, sustainability solutions and much more.
SAP’s nearest worldwide competitor is Oracle which boasted total applications revenues of US $6,105 million and total software revenues of US $18,877 million. With more than 370,000 customers from 145 countries, including 100 of the Fortune 100, Oracle is a force to be reckoned with. Founded in the late 1970s, Oracle rocketed into the enterprise software market in 2004 with its high-profile acquisition of Peoplesoft and JD Edwards for $10.3 billion.
In Canada, the company now offers customer relationship management, supply chain management, and human capital management through applications such as PeopleSoft Enterprise, Oracle E-Business Suite and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne.
As the software market continues to evolve, both SAP and Oracle have expressed interest in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). As smaller companies continue to see strong financial results in this market, larger companies are announcing their intention to shift their activities in that direction.
While the largest enterprise software firms are truly behemoths, several smaller Canadian-based firms are making their mark. In fact, the top two Canadian software companies, as listed by Branham Group Inc., both specialize in enterprise software.
Open Text of Waterloo, ON supports 50 million users in 114 countries and boasts offices in Canada, Asia, Australia, Europe, Brazil, and the US. Founded in 1991, the company is a leader in enterprise content management. Publicly traded on NASDAQ and TSX, the company employs about 3,400 with 2009 revenues of US $785.7 million.
Their flagship product, Open Text ECM Suite, manages all types of enterprise content—including business documents, vital records, Web content, digital assets email, forms, reports and more. It also offers project and community workspaces and business process management tools.
Constellation Software, headquartered in Toronto, provides services to both the public and the private sectors. Founded in 1995, the company has grown through a combination of acquisitions and organic growth and established a strong customer base of 20,000 in over 30 countries.
Made up of six operating groups, – Friedman Corporation, Jonas Software and Constellation Homebuilder Systems in the private sector and Trapeze Group, Harris Computer Systems and Emphasys Software in the public sector – the company has offices in North America, Europe and Australia with more than 2,200 employees and consolidated revenues exceeding US$330 million.
With such a strong global presence, these Canadian firms are making a mark, and may one day be able to take on the industry giants.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.