If only senior IT executives had a crystal ball. Then they would be able to see what software they would need, or want, to license -- and could plan and budget accordingly.
Instead, senior IT decision-makers must rely on vendors, marketers and analysts (and technology reporters) to show them what the future may have in store for them. And while no one truly knows what trends will dominate the enterprise software space in 2015, experts in BI, CRM, ERP and enterprise software believe these eight are worth paying attention to.
1. Hybrid cloud goes mainstream. "[We] saw a spike in multi-cloud strategies in 2014, and that will continue into 2015," says Chris Wolf, CTO of the Americas, VMware. "CIOs will continue to seek out the flexibility that [hybrid clouds offer]. And senior IT decision makers will invest in hybrid cloud architectures to future-proof their applications and services."
"The cloud has been a hot topic for a number of years, with companies moving applications to the cloud for speed to execution, lower costs, higher level of service and/or preservation of capital," adds Marc Malizia, CTO of RKON Technologies, a managed cloud solutions provider. "As we move into 2015, we are going to see a continued increase in organizations shifting to some form of the cloud. Most will adopt a hybrid model, mixing cloud provider services with their in-house cloud computing platform."
2. Subscription pricing for enterprise software. "Competitive pressures and new efficiencies will cause enterprise software pricing to continue to shift further toward subscription models," predicts Engin Kirda, cofounder and chief architect, Lastline, which provides protection against malware. "Rather than large lump sum licensing or costly preloads on proprietary hardware, enterprise software will be increasingly priced on a per-user and/or per-year basis," he says. "Not only will end-user-centric applications be priced this way, but other enterprise software and services, including data center management and breach detection, will also adopt this more predictable and scalable pricing model."
3. Mobile CRM -- and other enterprise mobile apps -- will take off. "Salesforce set the stage for this trend in 2014 with investments in their mobile app and getting their integration partners to use it," says Mark Seemann, CEO of Synety, a cloud-based software and communications business. And in 2015, "mobile will continue to be a crucial battleground for the larger CRM players, who will continue to bring their mobile app functionality closer to the level of their main Web product," he predicts.
"As employees spend less and less time in the office, having solutions -- CRM, BPM, etc. -- that are mobile friendly will be essential," says Michael DeFranco, founder & CEO, Lua, which provides secure messaging for the enterprise. "To succeed in the enterprise, solutions must prioritize the needs and behavior of mobile workers in their design, to ensure they are connected wherever they are, and are able to communicate and collaborate with colleagues back at the office."
4. In-memory computing will become a leading differentiator in ERP. "In-memory computing approaches like SAP HANA and Oracle In-Memory Applications will become the main battleground area for ERP product differentiation, especially in the large enterprise space," predicts Glenn Johnson, senior vice president, Americas, Magic Software Enterprises, a provider of application platforms, enterprise mobility and business integration solutions. "As market noise around Big Data continues, ERP brands that fail to offer in-memory computing solutions will fade when compared with leaders in this area."
5. Deeper ERP integration. "ERP is becoming more versatile, providing deeper integration with procurement, human resources and customer service software," says Michael Golz, senior vice president & CIO, SAP Americas. "SAP has made a number of strategic acquisitions, most recently with Concur, that help customers expand the value of their ERP system," by having it to "interact with new areas." That increased integration and depth will continue to blur the lines between enterprise software systems and help organizations derive greater value from their IT investments.
"Historically, ERP and CRM have been viewed as two separate systems of engagement," notes Jeremy Roche, CEO, FinancialForce, a provider of cloud ERP software on the Salesforce platform. "However, many businesses are starting to realize the immense value in eliminating distinctions between front and back office processes, bringing ERP to the forefront," he explains.
"Rather than continuing to allow vital customer information to be scattered among various pieces of a business," he says, "companies will begin to merge ERP and CRM into one single system of customer engagement, so they can better support the entire customer journey, from the initiation of interest to the delivery of a product."
6. Open source will continue to gain ground. "Data warehousing and BI has long been the domain of proprietary software concentrated across a handful of vendors," notes Ali Ghodsi, cofounder and head of product management and engineering at Databricks. "However, the last 10 years has seen the emergence and increasing prevalence of Hadoop and subsequently Spark as lower-cost open source alternatives that deliver the scale and sophistication needed to gain insights from Big Data," he explains.
And open source software will continue to gain a foothold in the enterprise space in 2015, predicts Ghodsi and others. "The Hadoop-related ecosystem is projected to be $25 billion by 2020," says Ghodsi. "And Spark is now distributed by 10-plus vendors, including SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and Teradata, with support for all major BI tools, including Tableau, Qlik and MicroStrategy."
7. Business Intelligence software will become more visual -- and easier to use. "In 2015, BI solutions will look as good as they operate, and will operate as good as they look," says James Richardson, business analytics strategist, Qlik, a provider of business intelligence and data visualization software. "Enterprise customers have been asking for BI solutions that are easier to use -- self-service solutions. And visualization is key to this," he explains. "By rendering data in easy-to-read graphs and charts, users will be able to understand their data in a way that is natural to them, breaking down the barriers between people and their data."
8. Social intelligence gets even smarter. "In 2014, we saw organizations begin to analyze social data in earnest," says Ellie Fields, vice president, Product Marketing, Tableau Software, a provider of business intelligence and analytics software. In 2015, this trend will continue to grow. "Tracking conversations via social will let companies find out when a topic is starting to trend and what their customers are talking about," she explains.
And this 'social intelligence' will allow companies to be more nimble and responsive to customer needs, desires and issues -- and get a leg up on the competition.