Insights for Procure-to-Pay and Finance Leaders

2013 predictions

2013 is the year… business software fights back

This is one of a series of three articles written by our founders hinting at what’s to come in 2013, find the full set here

Cloud, mobile, big data – it’s quite universally clear that these are topics already establishing themselves as headlines for 2013.

But more importantly, we will see 2013 as the year where these and other trends converge, become accessible and bring real change to the way every business works – from the one-man printing shop to the largest enterprises in the world.

But the real victory of 2013 will emerge when the point where these powerful technologies converge to become more accessible and widespread among businesses than ever before. Running your company using the latest technologies and trends, whether as an enterprise or a solitary consultant is going to be a transformative experience.

HTML5, with its promise of web-based, interactive, cross-platform applications only began rearing it’s head in 2009. That adobe has dropped development of Flash mobile in 2011 and placed their bet on HTML5 is just one of the many indications that this is where the industry was putting their money.

Although early adopters of HTML5 strategies like Facebook hoped for cheese but got whey, the World Wide Web Consortium published the complete definition of HTML5 just a few days ago — and the technology stacks are striding towards fully ripe as this is written. In 2013, the technologies surrounding HTML5 will help drive a change in the whole economy of app distribution.

Cloud has been a prominent topic for several years now, but something is different now. For one thing, Google has entered the cloud arena with renewed force, broadening the market and the competition. But the big change we’ve experienced first hand is the enterprise perception of the value of cloud services.

In the early days of cloud, the focus of many large companies was on cheap, flexible data storage and auxiliary computing power. But enterprises are now fully embracing born-in-the-cloud SaaS providers such as Salesforce, Workday and (of course) Tradeshift.

In 2013 both enterprises and service providers will realize the true power of the cloud in what it does as an enabler of innovation: Allowing rapid, repeated deployment of small, validated improvements based on real-time learnings from real world customers. Staying alive as a company in 2013 is all about how fast you can reinvent yourself in a globalized marketplace. The first generation of born-in-the-cloud companies to be successful will be the ones that can fire that innovation and globalization.

Apps, whether mobile, tablet, desktop or TV based, have changed the way everyone thinks about software and user interaction in the span of just a few years. However one of the big shifts we will see in 2013 is in the distribution models. Let’s face it – today it’s a race to be in the top 0.001% of the listings of the popular app stores. If you are not there, you are invisible.

But the fact that one single facebook app distributor has close to 100M monthly users instantly shows the power of networks as distribution channels. As the Apple app store continues to lose market share, we will see powerful new viral app distribution channels emerge around social networks – but also in the enterprise space.

2013 will really show how Big data is not as much about size as it is about availability. We are always connected and always able to act – but we need the data to back our actions. Bringing that real-time revolution about, both for the small business and the enterprise, will be a continuing trend in 2013.

And to bring it alive, it needs to be freed from it’s application or enterprise silos and picked up right where it is created — in the network of interactions that take place every millisecond. Then, essentially, it must be put directly into the hands of those who can act: the network of people within the companies.

We will see the first HTML5 app frameworks emerging that will allow services to be deployed on both mobile, web and tablets.

We will see network platforms with strong, viral engines for distributing these inherently social and interactive apps.

Networked platforms will serve both as the funnels for big data and the conduits that make it available in real time through this new breed of networked apps.

To put a face on all this, the revolution in user interaction patterns from apps and mobile form factors will be fleshed out in HTML5 to change the face of applications forever.

In some ways things are coming full circle. What blew my mind away when I first encountered the Internet through a small, black and white terminal window in the early 1990s was the first encounter with real people sitting thousands of miles away from me at a similar terminal. The magic of interacting with them in real time through this simple interface.

It seems that the enterprise world is about to rediscover the Internet power source of real-time personal interaction – tearing down data silos and application paradigms along the way that have stood for years and years.

Few technologies have changed the world by themselves- it’s often about the fragile chemistry between them. 2013 may be remembered for the buzzwords but the unsung hero will be the way those technologies interact and become so everyday that their usage and the benefits they offer go without saying.