2014: Business Software Resolutions (For Vendors)
2013 was an eventful year for business and enterprise software. A lot of different segments like IT service management and field service management saw considerable growth, while the trend towards consolidation among the top tiers–already alive and well in 2012–continued.
There were a lot of software trends this year that we liked. Additionally, there are a lot of trends we want to see catch on in the near future. With that in mind here’s our roundup of things we’d like enterprise software vendors to consider taking on as their 2014 business software resolutions.
The year 2013 has been a period of great growth in the accounting industry, with a diverse array of financial platforms emerging stronger than ever and many accounting vendors channeling the mantra of simplicity. While I, like many others, praise this focus on uncluttered functionality, I hope that accounting vendors rev up the level of flexibility as we begin the new year. Though it can be said that the accounting platforms on market today are far more flexible than many of their predecessors, it seems a logical next step to ensure accounting software systems not only encourage adaptability but enable it. Modern businesses demand increasing elasticity from their accounting solutions, be it in the form of more flexible pricing offerings or the ability to purchase only the combination of apps that they require. If simplicity was the objective of accounting platforms in 2013, I hope versatility will become the focus of 2014.
As a whole, 2013 was all about customers—companies honed in on their customer’s needs, wants, preferences and social habits with the understanding that this information contained the key to long-term profit and success. Now that we know the companies are listening, I hope that 2014 is the year that customers start seeing real, tangible changes. I would love to see software websites become less cluttered and confusing, and see how companies can use relatively new technology—cloud software, natural language processing, etc–to benefit us, the consumers. If 2013 was all about listening, I hope that 2014 becomes a year of action.
Three trends stood out to me in 2013: gamification, wearables and real-time analytics. Together they convey themes like motivation, productivity and decision making. With BYOD and the popularizing telecommute, the work-life balance is turning into a work-life integration. Then in 2014, with a pair of Google Glass on our noses, the divide may altogether be destroyed.
In 2013, I’ve heard more concern than ever about our distracted world, which disables us from deep focus. And with the prediction that we will be gradually wearing, driving, opening and cooking in an internet of things, each recording and reporting real-time data, 2014 might just be information overkill.
This year we’re going to have access to a lot more real-time information — not just about our company, but about ourselves. My only hope is that we experience a counter trend toward a little more privacy.
ERP has long been a glutted section of the software industry- what I’d really like to see in 2014 is a revolution in favor of faster, lighter, industry-oriented software solutions. Forward-thinking software providers like Salesforce.com are already moving towards modular software systems, and ERP as an industry would do well to transition to that model. Realistically, I think 2014 will be a big year for cloud-based ERP, which are more secure and powerful than ever before. We’ll also see a rise in the availability and sophistication of mobile ERP platforms; while mobile-compatibility used to be a cool perk offered by savvy software providers, it’s swiftly becoming a necessity in the age of remote work and BYOD.
From my perspective 2013 might have been the first year where the whole idea of the consumerization of IT started being more than an abstract concept thrown around by bloggers and software analysts. It seemed like everywhere I turned I was catching wind of a new product that was taking the principles of intuitiveness and accessibility to heart. It’s not just CRM that’s caught on, but everything from field service management solutions like ServiceMax, who we interviewed back in November, to imminently practical data analytics systems like DataCracker. A lot of the coolest companies we got to meet at Dreamforce 2013 are taking this approach and running with it.
My hope is that 2014 sees this trend of consumerization ideas into action grow even stronger. We’re finally seeing the old stereotype of business software as vast, expensive and opaque start to become obsolete. Even the biggest contenders in the industry are trying to make inroads into the world of smaller, more lightweight solutions, and while the mileage on these attempts may vary (to put it lightly) you can’t deny that the industry has heard the message loud and clear.
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