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A Final Favorite: The Incredibly Useful and Expanding World of Computer Applications

June 25, 2018

This week, I have another “favorite thing” that I hope you will recognize and appreciate: computer applications. Many people love applications because we’re depending on them more to get things done. You know what I mean. You probably use a website from an airline to get a ticket to go on a trip. You probably use an application from the same airline to get flight status updates or to figure out which terminal to tell your driver to drop you off at. There are an extraordinary number of useful applications around and more are being developed every day.
A Substantial Market
The size of the application market is considerable. According to “The Business Applications Landscape 2017 to 2020: SaaS Disruption and Vendor Proliferation” from Forrester, this is a $167 billion software market that’s evolving. This report has a focus on Software as a Service (SaaS), so it comments that the pace of application replacements will accelerate as aging on-premises software moves to this service model.   
Organized to be Better Understood
IDC is a good source of applications market definitions. IDC's 2017 Worldwide Software Taxonomy  contains a long-running and annually updated categorization of applications. For example, collaborative applications include a subcategory that includes conferencing applications, web conferencing applications, email applications, enterprise social networks, team collaborative applications, file synchronization and sharing applications. This is how IDC identifies collaborative applications and tracks the different subcategories like email applications. Of course, there are many other categories. This is helpful when you come across a product and want to know, “Where does this fit in to the big picture?” You can see the other categories by looking at the table of contents (the link that I provided previously).
Wikipedia has a taxonomy as well. Their classification has eight categories:
  1. Information worker software
  2. Entertainment software
  3. Educational software
  4. Enterprise infrastructure software
  5. Simulation software
  6. Media development software
  7. Product engineering software
  8. Software engineering
This classification is less detailed than IDC’s, but it’s certainly useful for comparison and to build a broader view of the topic.
Arc of the Series
I hope the sequence of the topics in this series was interesting and useful. Throughout it, we’ve explored the machine, programming languages, middleware and, with this concluding post, applications. 
When I started as an application programmer, almost none of these applications existed in a mature state, so we set out to build them for our companies. It was (and still can be) great fun although the complexity and challenges are greater now than 40 years ago. However, the rewards of creating a winning application can be much greater.

Posted June 25, 2018| Permalink