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Key Trends in the New Year – a look into the `crystal ball´


I have spent the past couple of months with co-innovation customers and partners, attending conferences, speaking with experts and colleagues, in an attempt to look into the ‘crystal ball’ for 2011. 

  • What are ideas will play a key role in the coming year? 
  • What trends do research point to? 
  • What’s important to our co-innovation partners? 

Included is my list of industry trends (based on our conversations with co-innovation customers/partners, and analyst research from Gartner and Google), along with personal thoughts on each area.  I believe that cloud computing, collaboration/ social networking, person centric solutions, and the continued rise of mobile devices will continue to be major forces in 2011.


1. Cloud Services 

Cloud computing/ cloud services have headlined Gartners Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2 years in a row.  Cloud technology is here to stay, but has yet to reach maturity – which means that the next few years will offer opportunities and more exciting developments. 


I will be discussing this area in more detail in an upcoming blog titled, “The Role of Cloud in Enterprises”.  My top line observation here is that we will see a hybrid landscape in the future, and it will be interesting to see strategies for governance and orchestration in a hybrid cloud set up.


  • “Software as a Service is already a given...baked into other technology trends"

SaaS is officially mainstream, and a trend that many of our customers plan to adopt (some with caution), but it has already been baked into both the IT and business agenda.  We are going to see a growth in corresponding arenas such as Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service.


2. Devices

 Devices continue to change the way we work and live.  Vendors need to continue to provide products, apps, services and software to take advantage of them, and to cater to the new behavior patterns and needs of the end user. 


  • Super-productive nomads

Google predicts that smartphones will outsell PCs and laptops by 2012, just one year away!  Smartphones and tablets are increasingly being used as the primary device to conduct business.  Super-productive nomads are folks who spend a lot of time on the road, but continue to be highly productive. 

I see a real need to equip their ‘virtual offices’ and mobile devices with a lot of meaningful content as well as context – not gatchets.  I also see a need to ‘push’ relevant information out to decision makers, and to provide analytics linked to systems of record in real time to make them even more productive.


  • Video

is an interesting trend, one that continues to migrate over to the business arena from consumer world.  It is most widely used for e-learning and communications, and the growth of virtual, global workplaces will make video chats a ‘normal’ way of communicating.  Most smartphones have high quality video recorders built in for easy communicating and one step vlogs. 


3. Rise of the Corporate App Store 

I expect to see this area to grow and evolve, fueled by both the shift away from PC’s to mobile devices, as well as by changing consumer expectations from their user interface. End users prefer to consume solutions through this interface. 

Business apps need to walk a fine line between creating the user experience of a consumer app (being fast and easy to consume, with great interfaces and instant evaluation); along with providing value-added solutions that are meaningful in a business context. 

Barriers to entry are higher in the world of business apps: It’s easy to come up with a frivolous consumer app, but creating a business critical app is a different story. Also, apps without orchestration or integration into the larger system of records, do not add value in a business or enterprise context.

I believe we will see a trend toward ‘micro apps’ as customer demand for apps from multiple vendors continues to grow.  End users will be able to buy micro apps that relate to a certain part of a business process, and combine them with other micro apps for complimentary processes. 

As a vendor, we need to give some thought to how we slice and dice our product and to enlighten the eco-system to build extensions with the same concept in mind. 


4. Location Awareness/ Context awareness

Location aware services leverage not just data, information and applications, but also the device itself.  Customers want more intelligence pushed out to them in real time, to help them better digest or leverage a location, account or event. 

We already equate this into our on demand offerings, and currently have new examples, and iPAD versions being tested by our co-innovation partners.  Feedback from customers/partners, “this is an interesting value added feature for a distinct usage group”.

A longer lasting trend will be that of context brokers. Adding both content and context to a business setting can be very powerful, and we are going to need brokers or a service provided by vendors to link the two worlds.


5. Combine Databases and applications

Combining databases, applications and In-Memory offers up a host of new opportunities.  End users can already leverage this capability through our on demand products, and it is starting to make inroads in the on-premise world as well.  Adding in-memory technology will not only make it faster. We will also see different solutions we did not dare to dream of.


6. Collaboration

Collaboration is not a new concept, and this ‘people’ quotient remains integral to enduring success for any company.  However, we have seen an explosion in ‘next generation’ technology to enable enhanced collaboration, and our current application of these tools only scratches the surface.  

There are many facets to collaboration, especially when you factor cloud computing into the mix.  New technologies, as well as major changes in the way we work and collaborate (virtual offices and teams), opens up a Pandora’s box of opportunities as well as questions –

  • What is the most efficient way to apply these new next generation tools to the real world work place? 
  • Will this tool add real value, or just noise? 
  • How will we collaborate and interact 5 or10 years from today?

I think we will need to harness interconnectivity and collaboration to increase customer intimacy and operational execution of teams striving for a common goal. So connecting an organization in a customer- focused business network is a very powerful concept.

My work with co-innovation partners as well as a very interesting study by Google on collaboration and the cloud, pointed to some interesting developments, trends and findings for collaborating in a cloud environment.


  • 81% correlation between collaboration and innovation

A Google funded study found that companies that collaborate are more innovative: 81% more likely.  Now there’s a compelling argument!  Collaboration taps into creative synergies, and a faster learning curve. 


  • Bring in expertise / collaboration partners early in the process

Sound familiar?  Did I hear co-innovation?  To me this is personal, not a trend but something I believe in, and work on every single day.  The benefits: Early collaboration with partners builds a trusted relationship, and a long-term one.  Insights and feedback are invaluable tools to help us create a better product and user experience.  Product enhancements are great, but we need to be careful about installing value-added upgrades, and not just follow the latest trends.  Close work with our end users offers that perspective.  The co-innovation program really highlights SAP’s commitment to collaboration every step of the way.  A key ingredient to successful co-innovation is finding the right partner.  You need to find customers who are first of all willing to participate and contribute.  In addition they need to be content rich, have a broad knowledge base and good understanding of all sides of the business.


  • Importance of the ecosystem

An ecosystem makes a platform stronger.  To create a vibrant ecosystem, you need to provide a lot of meaningful content as well as context, and integration to a larger system of records.  In my opinion, a great platform should provide strong interfaces, ease of consumption, and offer excellent connectivity.


  • Social networks/ social analytics

Next generation analytics will include social networks, sentiment and contextual analysis.  “Social intelligence’ is a standard feature of our new on demand solutions.  Our co innovation customers are also interested in opportunities to mash up with sources on the internet. 



So far so good with a look into the crystal ball, hiope you enjoyed it. Let me know your thoughts… and also watch out for my next blog where I will be discussing some areas in more detail - titled “The Role of Cloud in Enterprises”.