Executive Viewpoint 2013 Prediction: UNIT4 Business Software

By Shelley Zapp (Profile)
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Thursday, January 31st 2013
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Companies Will Re-evaluate the Need for Corporate Data Centers

Many companies will continue to rely on on-premise data centers for select purposes/operations. However, in 2013, expect to see clear evidence of the growing corporate comfort with off-loading data into the cloud for routine and repetitive purposes. A hybrid approach is emerging for many companies in 2013 that will enable the redeployment of valuable organizational resources into activities more germane to business building and efficiency supporting. Software and services companies that offer “choice” of multiple deployment options will best satisfy the market as these data center decisions are made. For more sensitive functions such as accounting and HR, organizations will look at cloud offerings that provide extremely good security and that can enable them to make changes – back to on-premise or to maintain a hybrid solution (part cloud/part on-premise) – depending on how their needs and experiences evolve.

We also think companies will need to be aware that "operating in the cloud” means different things to different companies – from solution developers to customers.  A big challenge will be for organizations to truly understand the benefits and risks of the cloud as it applies to each application.

Cloud-based Deployment Options Will Help Companies Avoid “Lock-In” Policies

Some vendors require their customers to lock-in on an approach, leaving organizations either a PC or a Mac… or managing their data either on-premise or in the cloud – but not both. Vendor-specific lock-in policies limit business customers' options to respond to rapid change circumstances. Expect that to change in 2103, as customers demand hybrid solutions as well as solutions that allow them to respond to rapid change. In addition to lower costs (as compared to corporate-run data centers), companies will increasingly favor options that provide “post implementation agility.” Options to port deployment in and out of the cloud, and to continuously reorganize/restructure without major cost/disruption, will be favored over all-cloud and/or rigidly coded software options that won’t change easily. Another benefit for customers is that they will increasingly be able to reorganize or restructure without major costs and disruptions that had been the case during the locked-in era.

Excellent Customer Service Will Be a Competitive Advantage

In addition to bristling over expensive and limiting lock-in policies, customers will also expect excellent customer service -- in part because of the reduced control that accompanies cloud deployment. Gone are the days where the CTO can phone his/her team at home – customer service is the new lifeline. In 2012, many cloud- and app-based companies offered minimal customer service, tending toward spotty self-help forums that provide uneven and unproven support. In 2013, we expect customers to increase their due diligence into the companies handling their critical data, and will expect customer service to be part of the value they receive. A SaaS model encourages good customer service because switching to a new vendor is less disruptive.