Web-based vs. Native software

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3 Feb 2017

So you are looking for business software. That means you are faced with a choice; web-based or native business software? But what is the difference? Which is the safest, cheapest or most efficient choice?

To answer these questions, you need information. That is why we help you, and our customers, by providing this information for you. Let us help you make the right decision.

Web-based vs. Native software: a comparison

Our customers often ask us if our software is web-based. But what is web-based software? And is being web-based a guarantee for an efficient business?

  • Web-based software runs from your web-browser. Though some older applications may demand the installation of a plug-in before the software can be used, most applications work without installations. Web-based software is by definition accessible software. The application is available anyplace, anytime. The software runs on any system that supports a web-browser. Notable examples of web-based applications are online comparison platforms, public transport route checkers and just about any webshop imaginable.
  • Native software is installed onto your PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet. You run the application by launching the application itself. This makes the software considerably less approachable since users will have to take the effort of installing it onto their device before they can use it. Because the application is run on the device itself, it can access different resources than those allocated to the web-browser. For heavy calculations, extensive reports and alike a native application is not limited to the capacity of the webserver. A common misconception is that native applications can only access local resources like the hard drive of the machine it is installed onto. The past years have seen the rise of native applications connecting seamlessly with the online world and accessing online resources like archive, mail or maps. Notable examples of native applications are Spotify, the full Office365 suite and the Facebook app on your mobile.

But what about business software?

It is hard to imagine a company that doesn’t use the Microsoft Office (or comparable) applications. However, this doesn’t make the office suite business software. For our comparison we define business software as the software that helps you run your business with things like relation management, billing, purchases, HR-management, stock, bookkeeping and much more.

Consideration 1: Accessibility

Accessibility is one of the elements that our customers consider to be very important. Software land is filled with terms like anyplace/anytime and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Whether or not it is really the most important aspect remains to be seen though.

After all, business software is used (almost?) exclusively by your employees. As soon as they have become familiar with the ins and outs of your application, starting the software from their own workstation might even be less of an effort than opening the application in the web-browser.

A CRM package is, in many cases, a host of invaluable information about your customers, your relations and your business itself. You might also want to consider not making that information too easy to access. Especially not to people outside your organisation.

There are, of course, always exceptions. When your business revolves around an integrated webshop which draws stock levels directly from your back office application, it would not be logical to focus on native only. In this case you need the easy-to-access webshop that seduces potential customers to step inside and make a purchase.

Native business software and hybrid business solutions give you control over which information can and cannot be accessed by the outside world.

Consideration 2: Integration

Only a few business processes are limited to the digital world. Most eventually require some kind of action or product in the tangible part of your company. What kind of tangible thing this is strongly depends on your business. After all, sending an invoice to your printer can be done by just about every browser known to man. But what about other devices?

When your software is web-based, the devices you can interact with are mostly limited to the devices your browser can interact with. Printers are hardly ever a problem and neither are barcode scanners, but when your software has to control a complex series of robots at a conveyor belt you are entering the digital twilight zone where browsers do not usually go. In the latter situation you are probably better off with a dedicated native application.

This clearly illustrates your business software needs to match your business and the horizons your business is heading towards. What might be just a printer now may very well be a line of robots in five years after all.

Consideration 3: Security

In the year 2017, data safety and security are hot topics when it comes to software development. Business software is more than just an application but the backbone of your company. The value of the information it unlocks is immense; customer information, HR documents, tasks, quotations, invoices, contracts, financial data and other information you will want to handle carefully.

Now it is very tempting to want to have all this information at your immediate disposal, whenever and wherever you are. However, we have learned comfort and security are very often diametrically opposed. When your priceless business data can be accessed just a step beyond entering a simple URL in a web-browser to you, unauthorized users can try to walk the same path. This risk is reduced dramatically when key data is only accessible through a native application. The bits of information that are useful when you’re on the road can still be available at the tap of a finger. After all, smartphone apps you downloaded from the app- or playstore are native applications too.

What goes best with your business?

In 2017 we live in an age of almost unlimited possibilities. All platforms, techniques and approaches have their own pros and cons. We strongly believe in using the right technique for the right application. We believe in native business software and smart, integrated web-based solutions and maybe even a mobile app to put useful information right under your fingertips; looking up the office address of a relation and sending it straight to the map? No problem!

The most essential consideration to make is what fits with you and your company. Where are you now and where are you going? What are your dreams and what is your ideal business? We would love to combine our extensive experience in the field of business software with your vision. So contact us now and make your appointment with our business analyst. Free of charge!

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