I love the end of the year. I get to sneak out of the office for a few days and stay off of airplanes. I also have a chance to look ahead to the new year. I like making predictions. Sometimes, I am years ahead of the market; other times I am able to hit the nail on the head. So, for what it is worth, here are my top ten predictions for 2008 (Hey, how did that happen? What happened to 2007? I thought it just started!)
1. There will be two hot buzzwords this year: innovation and ROI. Companies want to find ways to leverage the technology they have invested in, to do things in totally new ways. At the same time, companies are nervous about investing in technology. They want assurances that there will be a return on their investment — quickly. So, you will see a lot of discussion of both issues. But here is one prediction that I guarantee: most of the proof about innovation and ROI will be fluffy and devoid of any real meat!
2. Here come the clouds! I think that cloud computing, one of the latest versions of virtualization, will become one of the hottest trends of 2008. Any infrastructure company you can name will come up with a cloud computing strategy. No single leader will emerge in 2008 but you won’t be able to move without bumping into the hype.
3. Software as a Service goes mainstream. Sure, SalesForce.com has been the industry darling over the past few years. There can be no doubt that SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff’s imaginative adventure hit the bulls-eye. But I expect that in 2008 there will be numerous mainstream, innovative approaches to Software as a Service. We already saw SAP announce SAP By Design as its entry into the SaaS market. Expect a lot more from mainstream players. Now add a social networking twist and things really get interesting.
4. The world gets more virtual. VMWare’s spectacular IPO made the rest of the market wakeup and smell the roses. Maybe there is money in this virtualization stuff after all. There will be three virtualization market segments: client, server, and application. I can’t decide which one I think is more important. How about all three!
5. More vendors will make more acquisitions (that’s another one you can take to the bank). Yes, Oracle will certainly make more acquisitions, but I don’ t think that BEA will be in the mix. Nor will HP buy BEA. However, I do predict that BEA will probably go private. I predict that HP will buy more software companies, especially in the data management area. IBM will continue its buying especially in software — more companies in what they call information management, more in systems management, and in the collaboration space. I expect to see more action from EMC as well primarily in management and security. The list is too long for this entry but stay tuned, it is going to be a very, very busy year.
6. So, I didn’t mention Microsoft yet. This is the year when Microsoft’s server/enterprise business will get the respect it deserves. Therefore, I expect to see Microsoft continue to make small but strategic acquisitions that will fit into the forthcoming Oslo strategy. I would expect to see Microsoft look for information management picks (among others). However, I don’t expect that Microsoft will be buying big, traditional software companies. I expect that Microsoft will make interesting acquisitions in web collaboration, social networking, and advertising.
7. Online goes off-line. Companies like Zoho are starting to gain traction because they can provide both online services combined with offline usage. Being able to continue working when you can’t get connectivity is the tipping point for these collaboration offerings to challenge Microsoft in the office and collaboration space.
8. This is the year that Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) moves from IT strategy to business strategy. Therefore, SOA will officially move out of the hype cycle and into mainstream. CEOs and CIOs have bought into the importance of consistent business oriented services. Therefore, expect that customers will get down to serious business of moving out of pilots into slow, deliberate implementations. This doesn’t make for splashy headlines but it does make business sense.
9. Google will continue to move into any market that leverages the advertising revenue model — including collaboration software and various cloud computing options. No surprise there. I do not expect that Google will make a bid for the traditional enterprise applications. I do expect to see a strengthening partnership with IBM.
10. Partner ecosystems will reach a new level of intensity this year. Enterprise software leaders will be working hard to make sure the most popular emerging players support their platforms. They will be joined in the mix by Software as a Service players who are trying to build up their arsenal of partners. Emerging players will live or die by their ability to sign the best partnerships. At the same time, enterprise software leaders are upping the requirements for participation. The bottom line is: what’s in it for me?
11. I know I promised 10 predictions but I have to add one more. There will be at least a few trends that will come out of the blue. But that is what makes things interesting!