Business Applications Forecast: Cloudy with More Clouds Likely
By Dan Moyers
Business Applications Group Manager
Clouds have descended on the business application landscape, and they are here to stay. Our Business Applications Forecast will help you prepare for the conditions ahead by presenting an objective view and sharing firsthand perspective to help you prepare your business for the future.
Our forecast calls for clouds, but what are “cloud” business applications? At a high level, they are applications that run outside your company’s internal IT infrastructure. Cloud business applications are typically accessed over the Internet, allowing you to interact with them through your web browser as well as mobile devices. The application vendor typically manages all updates and you subscribe to user licenses on a monthly basis.
The cloudy forecast is driven by a perfect storm of major trends, some of which include:
- Widely available fast Internet access
- Rise of mobile devices
- Greatly evolved development platforms, application interfaces (APIs) and web standards
- Dramatic changes in worker and decision maker demographics and work styles
- Companies re-evaluating their core competencies relative to IT
- Improved application reliability, security and flexibility
- Increased end user expectations around usability, access and choice
At KSM Consulting, our Business Applications Group works with companies of varying industries and sizes to understand their challenges, plans and vision around business applications. While the Midwest generally tends to be conservative in its adoption of newer business technologies, I can tell you firsthand that “the cloud” is on nearly everyone’s mind. And when something hits critical mass in the Heartland, it’s often reflective of a technology movement “going mainstream.”
The excitement surrounding the cloud is warranted – the value is tangible and the momentum behind cloud business applications is irreversible. Mature spaces are being reinvigorated and entirely new spaces are emerging.
Let’s take a look at the cloud movements in some of the most significant business application categories:
CRM and Marketing applications have been the trailblazer in the cloud and thus the most mature. These applications have demonstrated the effectiveness of cloud applications.
ERP and Financial applications are in the early stages of a true rebirth, as legacy products are now being re-imagined for the cloud while cloud-only players have gained tremendous traction.
Reporting and Business Intelligence (BI) platforms and applications have been a slow follower to the source applications themselves moving to the cloud; however, existing reporting and BI products/platforms are being adapted and new cloud-only players are emerging.
Integration platforms and applications are becoming cloud-enabled. Traditional platforms are morphing into the cloud and cloud-only players are making headway against the incumbents.
Communication and Productivity applications continue to make great progress. Updates are inclusive of email and calendaring to docs, spreadsheets and other well-worn productivity paths.
- Collaboration/File Storage/Document Management applications are just now beginning to reach critical mass with today’s need for on-demand information accessibility.
An additional, and perhaps keystone piece of evidence for our “cloudy with more clouds likely” forecast are the aggressive moves that business technology’s largest product and platform vendors are making. From Microsoft to IBM, Oracle and SAP, the world’s largest software players’ commitment to a cloud-oriented future has become quite clear.
Dan Moyers is the Business Applications Practice Manager for KSM Consulting, LLC. Dan’s primary responsibilities involve working with directly with clients to help companies improve performance, effectiveness and efficiency through the proper alignment of business applications.