In 2024, software solutions are ubiquitous – we use them every day, whether we know them or not. Any time you log in to your email account or sign in to your bank’s mobile banking app, you’re using a software solution.
Given how common software solutions are, you might wonder if you need software solutions for your business – and yeah, you most likely do. Software solutions allow businesses of all sizes to enhance operational efficiency, drive growth, and take advantage of or maintain competitive advantages over their competitors.
But who is creating software solutions for businesses? What exactly is a software solutions company, what actual services do they provide, and why are the services a software solutions company provides critical for modern businesses?
In this article, we’ll take a look at software solutions – so you can make an educated decision on what software your business needs, and where to go to get your software needs fulfilled.
What is a Software Solution?
“Software solutions” is a broad term that covers the full spectrum of applications, tools, and services designed to solve specific problems or fulfill particular needs within an organization.
Generally speaking, software solutions are end-user applications that increase efficiency and effectiveness for employees – allowing businesses to improve throughput while also decreasing costs.
These can range from simple off-the-shelf software products to complex custom-developed systems tailored to the unique requirements of a business. The biggest software solutions – things like sales software or videoconferences – are often easy-to-use, big-box products that can be used by companies in any vertical, of any size.
A software solution in practice can be something as general as Office 365 for your real estate company, or it can be as specific as confidential code that allows for a 0.5% improvement in throughput for a manufacturing press for mini-golf clubs.
That’s the beauty of software solutions: they can be as specific or general as you need them to be. The more specific they are, the more they will cost, and vice versa – but the key thing to know is there’s a software solution to just about every business problem.
Common Types of Software Solutions
Here are the main types of software solutions – but there are literally thousands of unique applications for software creation and deployment.
- Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products (Think Microsoft 365!)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
- Cloud computing services
- IT infrastructure services
- Application Service Providers (ASPs)
- Independent software vendors (ISVs) developing and selling software directly to consumers or businesses.
Why Do Businesses Need Software Solutions?
The demand for software solutions stems from the need to streamline operations, improve efficiency, enhance customer service, and innovate product offerings in an increasingly digital world. Without the correct software to connect end users, customers, and the various stakeholders responsible for making a company, most businesses and employees wouldn’t be able to deliver according to the “need it now” expectations we need.
With effective software, individuals, business units, and whole organizations gain massive advantages in efficiency. Software solutions allow businesses to automate processes, make data-driven decisions, and adapt to changing market dynamics in a way that allows businesses to stay nimble, save on costs, and scale safely without putting their company’s finances at risk.
In short: software solutions allow businesses to perform better on an individual and company-wide level by decreasing the cost (time, energy, money) spent on a task.
What is a Software Solutions Company?
A software solutions company specializes in…well…the creation, distribution, and maintenance of software products and services for use by businesses and end users alike.
Software solutions companies can be single developers or engineers who create bespoke services for small businesses – or they can be sprawling multinationals like SAP or Salseforce who have dozens of engineering teams constructing hundreds of different types of offerings that may serve millions of users or only one or two customers.
These companies play a crucial role in the software industry, catering to the technological needs of businesses by offering a variety of services including software development, cloud services, digital transformation consulting, and more. Like every other industry, there are “mom ‘n’ pop” software developers who cater to bespoke tasks competing with giant corporations who push their highest-grossing software packages.
Services Provided by Software Solutions Companies
Software solutions companies offer a wide range of services, including:
- UI & UX Design: Creating responsive web solutions and corporate identity designs that align with user needs and business goals. You see UI software solutions every time you use a company’s website or native app.
- Quality Assurance and Testing: Ensuring software applications are error-free through comprehensive testing methodologies. QA makes sure that your piece of software is usable by everyone, all the time.
- Custom Software Development: Many software development businesses specialize in creating bespoke software for a specific purpose that may not exist outside of this piece of software.
- Cloud Computing Services: This is pretty much only relevant to the Big Boys of software (your Microsofts, Amazons and so on) – but many software solutions companies also provide hardware/software hybrid solutions in the form of cloud services.
- Digital Transformation Consulting: Software solutions businesses can go a step further than simple product delivery, consulting with businesses to integrate digital technology into specific areas of the business to increase efficiency.
Popular Types of Software Solutions for Companies
Some of the most popular types of software solutions for businesses large and small include:
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software integrates various functions across a company into one complete system to streamline processes and information across the entire organization. The ERP system acts as the central hub for end-to-end data and workflow management, including finance, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, and others. This integration facilitates better decision-making, efficiency, and productivity by eliminating data silos, improving process management, and providing comprehensive insights into every aspect of business operations.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- CRM software helps businesses manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal of CRM software is to improve business relationships with customers, assist in customer retention, and drive sales growth. CRM systems compile data from various communication channels, including a company’s website, telephone, email, live chat, marketing materials, and social media. Through the CRM approach, businesses learn more about their target audiences and how to best cater to their needs.
- Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics
- BI software enables companies to analyze data to make informed business decisions. These tools provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations, often using data gathered from various sources to provide insights through dashboards, reports, and data visualizations. BI and analytics help identify trends, spot business problems that need to be addressed, and provide insights for improvements.
- Cybersecurity Solutions
- Cybersecurity software solutions are essential tools and services designed to protect systems, networks, and data from cyber threats and unauthorized access. These solutions encompass a wide range of products, including antivirus and antimalware, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), encryption, data loss prevention (DLP), and more. Cybersecurity is crucial for protecting sensitive information and ensuring the integrity and availability of IT systems and data.
- Cloud-based Services
- Cloud-based Services refer to a wide array of services delivered on-demand to companies and customers over the Internet. These services are designed to provide easy, affordable access to applications and resources, without the need for internal infrastructure or hardware. Cloud services include Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Cloud-based Identity Management (IdaaS), and others – with the end result of scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency.
- Sales Software
- Sales Software is designed to streamline the sales process, helping sales teams to manage leads, customer interactions, sales forecasts, and performance. This type of software can automate tasks such as data entry, lead tracking, and deal management, allowing sales teams to focus on building relationships and closing deals. Sales software often integrates with CRM systems to provide a comprehensive view of customer interactions and sales opportunities.
Case Studies: Software Solutions In Use At Fortune 500 Companies
- Capital One: After acquiring ING Direct, Capital One repositioned itself as a leader in digital banking, becoming a technology-centric company with a robust focus on software development and innovation, boasting a tech team of approximately 11,000 and holding over 500 AI patents.
- Intergiro: This company has introduced a novel concept called “embedded banking,” automating financial operations such as payroll systems, invoicing, and reconciliation, and integrating all of that data with various applications for a seamless financial management experience.
- J.P. Morgan: By venturing into the metaverse with the Onyx Lounge in Decentraland, J.P. Morgan has expanded its banking services to virtual environments. Whether this pays off remains to be seen. You also see J.P. Morgan’s interest in cryptocurrency with their backing of blockchain software solution Ripple (XRP).
- Walmart: The retail giant has embraced digital transformation by introducing voice ordering and visual search in its mobile app, enhancing the shopping experience with innovative solutions that cater to the modern consumer’s convenience.
- Atria Senior Living: By developing a comprehensive CRM system, Atria Senior Living has improved prospect management and engagement for all of their residents, streamlining care and creating big savings.
- Ice Mortgage Technology (formerly Ellie Mae): In the face of surging demand for loan processing, Ellie Mae (now known as Ice Mortgage Tech) developed a hosted data warehouse model, enhancing data accessibility for lenders and supporting efficient loan processing in volatile markets.
- Lowe’s: Lowe’s has used BI software to merge customer feedback with actual online and in-store behavior, which has informed product assortment and staffing, improving sales and customer service.
- Starbucks: Starbucks uses its loyalty card program and mobile app data to predict purchases and tailor offers to individual preferences, driving customer frequency and sales volumes through personalized marketing.
The Biggest Businesses In Software Solutions
- Microsoft is known for its wide range of software solutions, including the Windows operating systems, Office productivity suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Dynamics 365 for CRM and ERP solutions, Azure for cloud computing services, and Visual Studio for software development.
- Oracle C
- Oracle offers a comprehensive suite of software solutions that include Oracle Cloud for cloud computing services, Oracle Database for data management, Oracle ERP Cloud for enterprise resource planning, and Oracle NetSuite for business management solutions.
- SAP SE
- Germany-based software giant SAP is renowned for its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, SAP S/4HANA, along with SAP SuccessFactors for human capital management, SAP Ariba for supply chain management, and SAP Concur for travel and expense management.
- Salesforce.com, Inc.
- Salesforce specializes in customer relationship management (CRM) solutions with its Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and a wide array of tools for analytics, mobile application development, and community management.
- IBM offers a variety of software solutions including IBM Cloud for cloud services, IBM Watson for artificial intelligence, IBM Blockchain for blockchain technology, and IBM Security for cybersecurity solutions.
- Taking a turn into the creative world, Adobe is known for its creative and multimedia software products such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro, as well as Adobe Document Cloud services including Acrobat DC for PDF management and Adobe Sign for electronic signatures.
- Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS)
- Though primarily a cloud computing platform, AWS offers a range of software solutions including Amazon EC2 for virtual servers, Amazon S3 for storage, AWS Lambda for serverless computing, and Amazon RDS for database services.
- Google Cloud
- Google Cloud provides Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for cloud computing services, Google Workspace for productivity and collaboration tools (including Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Meet), and Google AI and Machine Learning services for developing intelligent systems.
- Intuit Inc.
- If you’re a small business owner, you know Intuit. Intuit is best known for its financial software solutions, including QuickBooks for small business accounting, TurboTax for tax preparation, and Mint for personal finance management.
- ServiceNow offers cloud-based platforms for digital workflows, including IT service management (ITSM), IT operations management (ITOM), and enterprise service management (ESM), helping businesses manage and automate operations.
Do You Need Software Solutions for Your Company?
Identifying whether your company needs software solutions starts with assessing your business processes, challenges, and goals, but let’s be honest, in 2024 – you need some sort of software solution. There’s gotta be someplace where you can improve efficiency via automation or ease of use.
In most cases, you’ll probably be good with one of the off-the-shelf offerings from the likes of Microsoft or SAP. Their biggest offerings are extremely common in the business world – and they will only continue to become more entrenched in business’ day-to-day lives as we continue down the path toward digitization of all life.
And considering the relatively cheap price for many of these offerings – the software world is nothing if not competitive – there’s really no excuse for not using these proven ways to save time, energy, and money.