Efforts to adopt the cloud paved the way for a software as a service era. In 2019, make way for more paving.
The "desktop to desktop" way of working is getting replaced by a cocktail of web, SaaS, mobile and desktop applications, Mark Grilli, VP of product marketing for Adobe, told CIO Dive.
SaaS is dominating the way employees work and vendors effortlessly persuade non-IT employees to adopt their services. This makes IT's job all the more challenging because software governance is crucial but so is employee productivity.
Walking the line between both is a challenge, but actively rolling with changes will help mitigate employee frustration.
Here are the top software trends leading edge companies have had in their sights and are preparing for:
Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration
The communication and collaboration platform market is so hot right now. Vendors, like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Dropbox, offer tools challenging the traditional ways employees work.
"In the past, email was the centerpiece of employee communication and now it is moving to an email plus model," said Grilli. This means companies are looking for ways to augment email with Slack, Jira, SharePoint or other tools.
Companies that staked their claim in the market early on (Slack) may be eclipsed by companies new to the space (Microsoft Teams).
However, companies should expect platform overlap. Different departments in an organization are likely to use different platforms, so choosing a primary platform to overrule outliers is crucial in creating a holistic platform.
What will be interesting to see is "whether end-user demand driven solutions, such as Dropbox and Slack, can really penetrate the enterprise and cement their position," said Grilli.
Software will learn to learn
Companies are only as smart as their data, and so is software.
Artificial intelligence is enabling software to learn rules that once required manual programming, according to Forrester. In 2019, Forrester predicts machine learning services and deep learning platforms will mature enough to "accelerate self-training models."
By 2020, companies can expect software systems "to be trained instead of programmed" because models will be able to retain themselves in the public cloud.
However, while this is a trend CIOs must understand early on, Forrester warns that any "miracles" are tempered by talent acquisitions. Traditional software engineers expect an average salary of about $107,000, according to Indeed.
Over the next year CIOs need the cloud to pursue AI, but their teams need to sharpen their AI vocabulary. AI comes with hype. And tossing the word around without framing its purpose can defeat "competitive barriers," according to Forrester.
Industry ecosystems will show themselves
Industry-specific SaaS applications are on the rise, like Athenahealth and Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, according to Forrester. At the same time, SaaS vendors have been devoting more resources to integration.
The blend of both trends will combine to create SaaS-based industry ecosystems. "We expect that 2019 will see nascent but important investments in forming true industry ecosystems," according to Forrester.
Multiple departments will be able to connect in real time, resulting in intercompany collaboration. Government, healthcare and manufacturing are industries heavily reliant on information sharing that could see this shift early on.
"The business will push to use the best of breed for [a] specific function," said Alexander Rinke, CEO of Celonis, in an interview with CIO Dive. "But now we have to invest in technology on top of these existing operation systems" that connect them and that connection allows a holistic collaboration and analytics across the business.
Appointing departmental SaaS leaders
It's difficult for IT to be aware of all the digital tools independent departments require to be successful. But an unreliable vision of which SaaS applications exist in other departments can be detrimental to security and efficiency.
Seventy percent of cloud security, compliance and risk control resources will address SaaS activity management through 2020, according to Gartner.
Employees want immediate access to tools that will simplify their workloads, but IT organizations often "make safer decisions based on long term needs," according to Grilli.
This means newer departments will struggle to get SaaS applications an authorized foothold in companies, making employees more likely to take SaaS adoption into their own hands. But the fragmentation of adoption services can lead to holes in governance.
Companies are expected to be more critical of their SaaS adoption. They can do this by appointing a responsible party in each department. Divvying up applications by department leaders gives IT the ability to see where potential risks and overlaps are. It also helps curate an active SaaS inventory.
As data privacy regulations are setting in, companies now more than ever, have the responsibility to know what data lives where, including in applications. If companies have contact points in each department to account for their applications, IT can periodically check in with them to make sure they're still complying with formal policies.
Collaboration, content and mobility will proliferate
As social media is wound more tightly in employees' personal lives, companies have to adapt to those communication desires. Chat and content sharing must have the same feel and accessibility as social media platforms.
The "digital workplace is the happy medium" between traditional lines of collaboration and newer services, according to Mike Hicks, VP of marketing strategy at Igloo Software, in an interview with CIO Dive.
Companies can find this balance with simplifying their solutions. Microsoft's Office 365 is one such comprehensive solution, according to Gartner. However, Office's pitfalls are the complexities that come with third party add-on solutions.
These solutions have the tendency to challenge the boundaries of IT and therefore demand strategic planning. Collaboration, content and mobility (CCM) migration are high on the list of risk awareness for IT.
In 2019, companies should expect an increase in CCM challenges. But while IT is expected to handle CCM processes, end users should be able to perform work without having to understand the inner workings of the environment, according to Gartner.
To do this seamlessly, companies should create a catalog of CCM offerings, "assume a hybrid environment, and base IT services on this catalog," according to Gartner.