Digital transformation is changing the way businesses run. It helps not only to automate manual, repetitive tasks but also to streamline workflows. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the ongoing evolution of digital transformation was greatly accelerated as most businesses were forced to work remotely (Statista, 2020). Business owners had to use online solutions, like employee learning management systems (LMS), invoice management software, and construction project management software, to survive the lockdown.
Now that the pandemic panic is dwindling, several of the studies we have examined report that these online solutions have shed new light on how business owners should continue operating. In fact, 64% of companies might need to create new digital technology models to survive through 2023 while 21% of firms reveal that they need to adopt these technologies in their current models (McKinsey, 2021). That said, we believe embracing digital technologies, such as business software, will help companies keep up with the digital world and sustain best practices even after COVID-19.
In this guide, Research.com aims to help company decision-makers to have a clearer understanding of what business software does, as well as its key statistics and trends. Our team has identified and explained five of the most essential tools to have in your tech stack.
The digital transformation movement begun with the advent of modern technology long before 2020, but the pandemic certainly became the “digital accelerant of the decade” (Twilio, 2020). Along with the need to work from home, this rush was also accompanied by several innovations and discoveries throughout recent years, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). For instance, the use of business name generator AI has become more embedded in business processes in recent years.
To sustain and further improve these changes, the spending on digital transformation must also increase. In fact, digital transformation spending is predicted to reach $3.4 trillion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3% over five years (International Data Corporation, 2022). Simultaneously, companies must also keep up and incorporate digital transformations into their businesses if they want to maintain their place in the market.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
A study of businesses during the pandemic that we reviewed has revealed that younger companies would use more digital technologies than established businesses to operate within the next six months. In the report, these 10 countries (out of 47) showed the highest percentages of total starting companies that are expected to up their digital technology game to sell more of their goods and services within half a year (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2022):
Among the reasons why new businesses in these countries emerged on top are to prepare for a post-pandemic consumer base, to invest in ideas that could make their companies thrive, to continue celebrating the success of entrepreneurs and gaining their government’s support, and to change their business dynamics in a post-COVID world.
Meanwhile, in the same report, usual higher-income countries ranked somewhere in the upper half of the tier since their digital technology usage may already be high to begin with. We have outlined some of these countries below.
|Country||Rank||Percentage of total startups|
The only three countries that had more established businesses that would probably use more digital technologies than startups were South Africa, the Republic of Korea, and France. Respectively, this is because of a lack of access and affordability, a lack of interest from startups in new technologies, and the likelihood of older businesses outlasting newer ones even during the pandemic (GEM, 2022).
This report shows that startups could have the upper hand since they are more willing to use digital solutions. However, that is not always the case. Old, established businesses might just need more time, resources, or encouragement to adjust to this digital shift, which is why so many online solutions are offered for free or provided with trials and demos.
To further highlight how digital transformation was crucial during the pandemic, most companies in a recent study revealed that they decided to spend more on acquiring digital technologies even while thrifting on other resources. As a matter of fact, 65% of businesses allotted their budgets to digital initiatives, 25% had no change in allocations at all, and only 7% decreased their digital funding (McKinsey, 2021).
This budget allocation could be seen as beneficial since digital transformations offer a variety of solutions that have helped and continue to aid businesses. One of these solutions is the use of cost-effective software-as-a-service (SaaS) or cloud-based applications, which do not require hardware to be installed and is maintained by providers.
The SaaS industry is as steady as the digital transformation growth. In fact, the SaaS market is expected to grow from $121.334 billion in 2020 to $702.19 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 18.82% (Allied Market Research, 2022). Apart from this, SaaS offers a range of solutions, like different business software that every department of a company might look for. Some of these solutions are project management software (PMS), communications software, customer relationship management software (CRM), accounting software, and human resource (HR) software.
Each type of software will be discussed in detail below. However, to help you gain an overview of their specific markets, we have outlined the following projections for you to consider. These are consequently also tied to the increase in the SaaS and digital transformation markets:
The projected stability of these types of business software assures that investments made in them are greatly returned, not only because of its advantages during the pandemic but also after and beyond it. Moreover, closely related solutions like driver management software, inventory management systems, and business intelligence solutions add further value to an organization's tech stack.
As businesses start to face a winding down of post-pandemic stress, what consumers are looking for right now is a software system that provides resilient and efficient solutions to keep their businesses thriving in a digital transforming and post-COVID world (McKinsey, 2020).
The business software statistics above provide decision-makers with a bird’s eye view of what to expect from the digital market growth soon. Here are some trends that we think could further sway potential buyers into acquiring one:
With these business software trends, key decision-makers can have a better view of how they can strategize their daily operations with the use of the right software. Research.com examined a list of 15 software by business type that can provide the right solutions to any kind or size of the company.
A project management software (PMS) provides teams with a complete avenue to plan and track projects in one place. Apart from helping project managers quickly write a project plan, PMS core functions include collaboration tools, time and scheduling services, and task management.
Asana is a versatile project management software that makes collaboration much easier and faster. It displays insights about task assignees, progress, deadlines, and priority levels right on the dashboard. Asana is perfect for any type of project because of its smart automation system. It enables users to auto-change due dates or to reassign tasks and assignees by dragging or with a few clicks. Lastly, it also reroutes tasks created in emails directly into the platform in an instant.
Asana Key Features:
Users can get started using Asana’s free basic plan. It also offers a premium plan ($10.99/user/month), a business plan ($24.99/user/month), and an enterprise plan by quote.
Created in 2005, Smartsheet provides an easy way for users to collaborate even without sheet access. It also reduces repetitive tasks by automating alerts, workflows, and approvals with a few clicks. In addition, Smartsheet keeps an audit trail of proofs and edits for easier progress monitoring and commenting. Lastly, it curates pertinent information, such as project status and key performance indicators (KPI), to display to stakeholders.
Smartsheet Key Features:
Smartsheet has three plans starting at $7/user/month to $32/user/month and a custom enterprise plan. It also comes with a free 30-day trial.
monday.com is an all-in-one cloud platform that offers project and work management solutions, as well as marketing, development, and sales CRM services. It enables project management teams to brainstorm together creatively by enabling them to share photos or links on work canvases. monday.com also offers Gantt, Kanban, timeline, and workload views to display progress in either bird’s eye views or detailed structures. Additionally, it allows for unlimited sharing of files and enables users to set access permissions for security.
monday.com Key Features:
A free individual projects plan is available for two seats. Paid monday.com plans start at $9/seat/month to $20/seat/month, with a free 14-day trial, and a custom enterprise plan.
Apart from the three listed above, here is a list of other project management software that could help teams fast-track task assignments and organize deadlines.
Communication software, sometimes called internal communications software, mainly offers real-time instant messaging platforms for departments to discuss their daily work. These aside, it also provides custom video conferencing services and other collaboration apps that help team members work together remotely and conveniently. Similar to our content management system ranking, this list offers some of the top solutions in the communication software space.
Slack is a communication software that provides instant messaging solutions to any type of team. It makes use of channels or group chats that let users communicate either publicly or privately. Slack also enables external groups or individuals to comment on channels using Slack Connect. In addition, it automates workflow by clicking on suggestions on status updates or even time-off requests.
Slack Key Features:
Slack offers a free plan to its users, as well as pro ($7.25/month) and business plans ($12.50/month), and a custom enterprise grid plan. It also comes with a free trial.
Microsoft Teams is a communication software that provides video conferencing, virtual conferences and events, audio conferencing, and instant messaging solutions. It allows users to work on the same file simultaneously and conveniently tracks revisions for documentation. Microsoft Teams also helps fast-track repetitive tasks by automating workflows, such as sending instant updates and notifications and providing approval options.
Microsoft Teams Key Features:
Microsoft Teams offers a free plan, as well as paid plans for business and personal uses, ranging from $4/user/month to $12.50/user/month.
Google Workspace is a browser-based communication software that offers a suite of collaborative apps and tools. It enables users to chat from the email interface, making it quicker to communicate urgent matters. In addition, Google Workspace works on enterprise-grade security so that all files shared and stored are safe.
Google Workspace Key Features:
Google Workspace offers a free 14-day trial and three plans, ranging from $5.40/user/month to $18/user/month and an enterprise plan by quote.
Ringblaze is a communication platform created for small businesses that provides a range of features to integrate and manage communication channels, both internal and external. It enables teams to work together efficiently, ensuring that all important tasks are addressed in a timely manner. The platform also offers the benefit of remote work and travel. With the help of the shared inbox, businesses can easily manage all customer inquiries and delegate tasks to the relevant team members. Overall, Ringblaze is a professional and effective solution for small businesses.
Ringblaze Key Features:
Users can get started using the Ringblaze free trial. It also offers a simple plan which costs $15/user/month when billed annually.
In the realm of efficient business software, Beaconstac's QR Code generator stands out as a versatile tool that empowers companies to enhance their marketing, communication, and operational strategies. This all-in-one QR Code management solution offers a plethora of features designed to elevate user engagement and simplify processes and is trusted by brands like Pepsi, Amazon, Nestle, and many more.
Beaconstac's Key Features:
The starter plan is priced at $5/month, Lite is priced at $15/month, Pro is $49/month, and Plus is $99/month. Beaconstac also offers an Enterprise plan with custom pricing.
A customer relationship management software provides an easy way for entrepreneurs to store valuable information about their customers. It also helps them to study marketing trends and behaviors for them to better assist clients. Apart from that, other CRM software features include AI-generated customer support and deal-closing tools.
An easy-to-use CRM software, Salesforce Sales Cloud allows a range of solutions and tools to help owners manage operations and connect more with customers. It displays relevant data like customer activity, competitor overview, deal statuses, and other KPIs, right on the dashboard for faster access. Salesforce Sales Cloud also streamlines workflows by automating approvals with a single click or through drag-and-drop actions. Apart from that, it provides a built-in quotation generator and exports estimates into PDF instantly.
Salesforce Sales Cloud Key Features:
Salesforce Sales Cloud offers an Essentials, Professional, Enterprise, and Unlimited plan starting at $25/user/month to $300/user/month, along with a free 30-day trial.
HubSpot Sales Hub is a complete CRM platform that businesses of any type or size can use. It integrates seamlessly with other HubSpot software and apps to enable team members to meet directly with leads and expedite their payments. It also accelerates operations by automating pipeline management with a click. Lastly, HubSpot Sales Hub also sends notifications when clients view emails to empower staff to respond right away.
HubSpot Sales Hub Key Features:
HubSpot Sales Hub offers a free plan, as well as a starter ($45/month), a professional ($450/month), and an enterprise ($1,200/month) plan.
SleekFlow is the leading omnichannel social CRM software that enables businesses to streamline customer interactions across multiple messaging platforms. SleekFlow's user-friendly interface centralizes all communication channels, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM, and others, allowing seamless customer engagement. It manages conversations, automates responses, and tracks customer data to deliver personalized experiences with powerful automation tools. SleekFlow revolutionizes customer relationship management by streamlining customer communication and utilizing data insights, assisting businesses in forging stronger connections and accelerating growth with ease.
SleekFlow Key Features:
SleekFlow offers a variety of plans, from a free startup plan to professional and premium plans, ranging in price from $79/month to $349/month, as well as a custom-priced enterprise plan.
Any CRM is incomplete without a reliable contact management tool, and Shared Contacts Manager is exactly the one any company needs. The software is a simple and powerful solution for organizing contacts and sharing them with team members instantly and automatically. No manual contact transfer, just a few clicks and selected – or all – teammates are authorized to use the contact database. You can assign editing or resharing rights to individual users; all updates are synchronized in the database for everyone immediately, and no special training is required to master the full potential of the solution. Just log into your account and start working.
Shared Contacts Manager Features:
The pricing is flexible and depends on the number of users who will access the contact database. The first plan level for 5 users is $9 per month, the plan for 10 users will cost $19 monthly, and then the pricing goes up incrementally to the top tier for up to 5000 users which costs $595 monthly.
Core accounting software provides solutions that help business owners meet accounting and booking regulations and requirements such as accurate bank reconciliations, organized general ledgers, and correct expense or tax calculations. It also generates instant reports and offers forecasts about the business.
NetSuite is a business accounting software that provides automated services to decision makers, accountants, and auditors. It collates data automatically into general ledgers to help expedite processes and get companies ready for tax season. With its error-free automated system, fixed assets managements are easy to update and maintain. Lastly, NetSuite generates instant analytics and offers seamless bank integrations for hassle-free reconciliations.
NetSuite Key Features:
NetSuite provides custom quotes with a one-time implementation fee
QuickBooks Online is a cloud accounting software that helps users organize their financials easily. It allows users to personalize every transaction by assigning tags to them, and automatically categorizes tags for quicker reconciliation. QuickBooks Online also tracks and generates profit trends to help users utilize their strengths. With its automated double-entry bookkeeping, it allows users to be prepared in time for tax collections.
QuickBooks Online Key Features:
QuickBooks offers a free 30-day trial and a Simple Plan ($30/month), an Essentials Plan ($55/month), a Plus Plan ($85/month), and an Advanced Plan ($200/month).
A cloud accounting software, Sage Intacct provides financial solutions to help users track cash flow easily. It consolidates financial activities from multiple entities for hassle-free money management. Analyzing business performance will be a breeze with its 10 general ledger dimensions. Sage Intacct also prevents errors by automatically setting up accounting allocation and recording audit trails.
Sage Intacct Key Features:
Other than the ones listed above, here are more of the best accounting software on the market that business owners can explore.
Human resource software provides digital solutions for HR professionals to store employee files, and streamline payroll and benefits. Apart from that, it also provides solutions that empower workers to track their time independently and receive performance feedback. Other features of this software include streamlined recruitment and onboarding processes, talent management, and training development.
Since its inception in 1997, Paylocity provides HR professionals and company employees with the best service with its automation features. It provides a self-service tool that allows workers to view their paychecks or request time off 24/7. Paylocity also provides users with HR compliance courses with their interactive and intuitive Compliance Dashboard. Additionally, it encourages users to interact with each other with likes, reactions, and polls and fosters a sense of community online.
Paylocity Key Features:
Providing a complete suite of human capital management solutions, ADP Workforce Now helps HR departments to manage employee data and streamline tasks easily. It enables once-only data entry and automatically repopulates them in workflows. Its self-service tools make it easy for employees to resolve easy HR issues. Additionally, ADP Workforce Now helps with onboarding processes by allowing recruits to complete document requirements digitally even before day one.
ADP Workforce Now Key Features:
ADP Workforce Now offers four plans with custom pricing.
Paycom is an all-in-one HR software that offers recruitment, time and talent management, and payroll. It empowers workers to raise concerns to HR confidently and assigns them to the right staff for quicker resolution. Paycom also helps workers to improve by scheduling self, manager, and 360 reviews for better performance feedback. Lastly, it provides a merit matrix to ensure that employees are compensated justly.
Paycom Key Features:
The best business software featured above clearly offer company decision-makers a wide scope of features and advantages. To recap, PMS paves the way for a more organized canvas for teams to plan and track projects. Communication software gathers team members in one hub for them to talk or collaborate on tasks in real-time. Meanwhile, CRM software nourishes customer relationships while also advancing the growth of businesses. Then, accounting software takes care of the hard math and money matters for business owners. Finally, HR software provides record-keeping services, essential tools for trainers, and effective channels for workers to grow in the company.
Digital transformation influences not only how business software are made but also how its users choose the right solutions for their company. In an evolving digital and post-pandemic world, business owners must keep in mind that the software they acquire must also match the needs and preferences of their customers. Most significantly, whether it is using AI to automate workflows or integrating ecommerce tools, these types of software serve as extensions of the business arms, both to stand out from other competitors and to offer superb services to clients.