12 Technology Predictions for 2009

In the cyclical Chinese calendar, 2009 is the Year of the Ox. Chinese horoscopes characterize those born within the year as determined, hard-working, stable, and persevering -- traits that happen to be in demand as we enter the second year of a recession. With the economy weighing heavily on the minds of decision-makers, fighting through the tide has never been more important for businesses, according to CMS Watch, a research firm focused on Web content management, enterprise portals, and enterprise search technology.

Tony Byrne, founder of CMS Watch, says the firm prides itself on keeping a finger on the pulse of the customer, so, when putting together a set of technology forecasts for 2009, CMS Watch looked to customers -- who else? -- for a sense of their purchasing plans and strategies for the upcoming year. Not surprisingly, one recurring theme among the predictions is an effort to prioritize cost savings and to get better mileage out of existing software purchases.

The 12 CMS Watch predictions for 2009 are as follows:

  1. Open-source enterprise content management will see more love from buyers. Byrne says that he has seen the industry increasingly pay attention to both open-source technology and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions over the last five years. The current economic conditions, however, will drive even more interest and adoption in open-source solutions. Byrne predicts a "significant uptake" in SaaS and open-source solutions due to the perception that the two technologies are cheaper than traditional software options -- a perception that may not be wholly accurate, he adds. "The reality is, once [buyers] get into it, they may discover that [SaaS and open-source solutions don't] have less [total cost of ownership] in the long run." In other words, something that appears "too good to be true" might really be just that. Byrne warns potential buyers to take a strong look at the software they already have before choosing something new to take on.
  2. The next release of Microsoft SharePoint will cause customers to reassess. Byrne says that he expects Microsoft to release a Beta version of Office 14 in 2009, which may include some updated SharePoint tools. Even though the 2007 edition of SharePoint is still very new to a lot of users, many have complained that they've been unable to fully comprehend certain functions -- and the new release is expected to address those concerns, Byrne says. This fervent hope, he adds, may lead to a re-evaluation of the product among current and prospective users.
  3. Metadata will send taxonomists into a frenzy. "The whole issue of metadata and tagging will continue to be one that's hotly debated," Byrne says. For those devoted to categorizing content, third-party data brings a whole new set of challenges. Metadata, categorized by social-tagging methods, does not fit the typical standards of enterprise data sets. For this reason, vendors are pushing data-cleansing and data-integration tools to unite on-premises data with social data in the cloud. Byrne recommends that organizations stringently evaluate the way they use -- or don't use -- metadata within their existing information systems before jumping into a new solution. Only after that assessment is complete can a company accurately see how sophisticated social insight could add value to the information systems.
  4. Vendors will spotlight regulatory compliance offerings. A tough economy often leads to an increase in litigation, which pushes regulatory compliance to the top of the agenda. Byrne says he wouldn't be surprised to see compliance regain some industry buzz, given the recent economic headlines.
  5. Proactive e-discovery will move to the forefront. With litigation comes e-discovery, so organizations are advised to prepare for "what if" scenarios as a precaution. "You can't just suddenly search within this massive content on your Web site and expect to give back to legal counsel simple and accurate results," says CMS Watch analyst Alan Pelz-Sharpe in a video presentation of the firm's predictions. "You have to be proactive to get your house in order."
  6. SaaS continues to appeal to users -- but now they will want more from providers in the cloud. As with the aforementioned view of open-source computing (see #1, above), buyers increasingly see SaaS as a viable, low-cost option. However, Byrne cautions organizations to closely examine their processes before adding another Web application. CMS Watch findings indicate that customers are now asking for more than just technical services from providers in the cloud. "Expect [SaaS] vendors to make more strategic partnerships with firms that can supplement their services," the report says.
  7. Oracle will fall behind with front-office productivity applications. Oracle had a huge year in 2008 -- the culmination of a three-year acquisition spree comprising about 50 companies. Acquisitions often lead to complications, Byrne says, citing reports of confusion caused by perceived overlaps between the toolsets offered by Oracle's multiple front-office applications, including Oracle WebCenter Suite and its new collaboration product, Beehive. "Beehive is fundamentally a development platform and it's oriented toward developing custom applications at a time [when] the market wants things out-of-the-box," Byrne says. "The bigger issue is, if you're an Oracle customer and interested in social computing, it's unclear what Oracle toolset to use." Byrne says he expects these issues to become more critical over the next year.
  8. Enterprise search now involves personalization, stickiness, and analytics. Pelz-Sharpe expands upon this notion: "At the end of 2008, buyers were starting to understand the limitations of search engines. Search is a complex area, and buying needs to reflect that." There will be new emphasis placed on application search -- and the idea that "you are what you search for" will become central to enterprise search.
  9. Social computing will continue to make inroads, while smaller niche players will sneak in with new offerings. "So much hype is cleared away and the reality is starting to come through," Pelz-Sharpe says. The report predicts that standardization is still a ways off -- probably 2010 at the earliest. Movement toward social computing will build, but it remains a young market.
  10. Web content management vendors will partner off, leading to consolidation in the marketplace. The analysts write, "We hope for your sake that any [merger and acquisition] activity falls more on the acquisitions side." The report states that when smaller companies merge, existing customers are often left in a tough place, as one tool or the other often falls by the wayside.
  11. Users will demand mobile and multimedia Web analytics. Who will step up? "We are again seeing Web analytics really…coming to the fore," Pelz-Sharpe says. "People are realizing they need to know what's going on at a granular level." Still unclear, though, is a sense of which vendors will take charge in providing analytics for mobile and multimedia activity -- a void that needs filling.
  12. Buyers will remain in the driver's seat: Prices will fluctuate based on pushy purchasers. "Buyers will not accept vendors' first offers," the report states. "Rather they will demand better pricing, more licenses, and better support levels." In other words: Don't be afraid to haggle.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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