You may still be feeling a little woozy from showing 2007 out the door. Make sure you’re not caught off-guard by 2008, with the top 6 trends you should watch for in the year ahead.
1. ERP—The Technology Matures
Granted, ERP vendors have been defining the technology as “mature” for quite a while now, but with limited room for ERP feature and function innovation (from a transactional point of view), they can no longer count on sparkle and flash as a key differentiator.
That’s why vendors will seek new ways to show how their ERP solutions can be used in conjunction with other offerings, in order to leverage the fullest capacity of ERP.
While SOA was the big vendor trend a few years ago, the new road map for product evolution will involve new “horizontal” offerings (such as business process management or business intelligence systems) sitting on top of the ERP application. Vendors will also be more eager to demonstrate flexible mapping to your existing business processes.
In a mature applications market, software vendors cannot force-feed you their technologies. You do not need to compromise your business processes if you feel it’s not to your advantage.
2. “Web 2.0”
Buzzwords aside (See P.J. Jakovljevic’s blog post Web 2.0—“Wow!” or “So What?!”), social networking is one of the primary drivers in today’s business landscape.
Vendors need to keep their ears close to the ground, as consumer trends evolve towards features being “pulled” by users rather than “pushed” by developers.
Another characteristic of 2.0 is the concept of content “mashups,” where multiple sources are used to provide real-time information (as in the case of transportation management and tracking systems. This is not a new concept developmentally, but the fact that it’s entering the collective consumer conscience raises the bar for enterprise systems.
With the Web gaining mass acceptance as a business platform, vendors are also introducing “search” concepts that incorporate unstructured data—and allow employees to search enterprise knowledge in the same way consumers search the Web.
The big players will seek to diversify their expertise, rather than aiming towards consolidation (see Trend #1). This applies in terms of both horizontal functionality (e.g., with business intelligence layers sitting on top of ERP applications) and vertical focus.
The era of acquisitions is not dead. More on out why you should care.
4. SMBs Come Out Ahead—Finally
The software vendor giants are moving down-market. Why? Because the big enterprise market is done.
What does this mean for you? Options, options, options. Use them as leverage during the negotiation stage of your software selection project.
5. Going Global
The seeming fragility of the US economy means that vendors will seek to go global in an effort to insulate themselves from US market shockwaves.
What this means for you: if you’re selecting an enterprise software application, you should focus on vendor viability. Specifically, if a shortlisted vendor is weak on localization in your target markets, you should find out whether this is an indication of short-sightedness.
6. Global Warming—Coming Soon to a Desktop Near You
Green is now on the agenda of corporations and governments worldwide. And there will be repercussions for SMBs. After all, if you’re not on the front lines of ecological awareness, your competitors will be. You can’t afford to ignore what will be a key differentiator in the minds of consumers everywhere.
Evaluate software packages carefully for scope for compliance, including regulatory compliance, industry-specific guidelines, and customer mandates
Sound off below.
With thanks to TEC analyst Neil Stolovitsky for his research files.
Just wonder the pros and cons of best of breed vs best of suite. Based on para #1, should I stick to best of breeds?
I was surprised that you did not include some mention of the future of SOA. I feel that this will be a difficult concept for companies to embrace and perhaps impossible to install without a complete replacement of their current ERP software. Since the early days of common subroutines in COBOL, the SOA concept has been trying to gain acceptance without much success. In 2000 we had Y2K Over Hype; now we have SOA - Software Over exAggeration.
While I agree with the top 4 points as a sign of market maturity & penetration, I would like to include one more aspect to the list - Offering - as a key driver for decision by customer. They are going to be more & more influenced by the packaged offering than just by a standalone product features. They have already started seeing a value in it.
SoA is an area which will play a good role.