Anyone thinking about starting up an enterprise software company should take a look at IDC’s predictions for 2014.

IDC frames its vision around what it calls the 3rdPlatform, or the natural evolution beyond the client/server and LAN-based solutions that became popular in the past two decades. The 3rd Platform is built on four technology pillars: cloud, mobile, big data/analytics, and social technologies. None of these had much of a presence in the enterprise until just a few years ago, but they certainly do today.  And it’s in these areas that IDC sees the greatest growth and the biggest implications for the way companies will work in 2014.

  • Cloud.  Spending on cloud services will increase 25 percent in 2014, says IDC.  This includes cloud-delivered solutions and the infrastructure that enables them. This is hardly a surprise. Enterprises are moving to the cloud because it offers scale and redundancy to meet virtually any SLA, without requiring companies to buy and maintain their own server farms and data centers. Cloud-based solutions also are inherently accommodating to the next pillar of IDC’s 3rd Platform…
  • Mobile. Smart phones and tablets will account for 60 percent of IT spending growth this year. Workers are increasingly mobile, and platforms that view mobility as an afterthought will be increasingly threatened with extinction. Just ask anyone who’s had to interact with applications that shoehorn mobile functionality into a platform built for desk-bound users.
  • Big data and analytics. The demand for big data and analytics capabilities will lead to a 30 percent increase in spending in 2014. IDC says enterprises are looking for cloud platforms that use real-time data streams to deliver helpful insights.  We’re talking both business metrics from internal platforms as well as external unstructured data like news items, social media feeds and market dynamics. This is further evidence that we’re moving away from relying on dated information that showed us where we’ve been to using real-time data feeds that show us what’s happening right now, and what is likely to happen in the future.
  • Social. Many companies are only now beginning to appreciate how enterprise social networks can become launching pads for collaboration. This is not just a “feel good” capability. When employees collaborate, they share pertinent information, insights, ideas and best practices that previously would have existed only in emails, private spreadsheets or the employee’s memory. No wonder IDC expects 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies to deploy social-enabled innovation management solutions by 2016.

These are more than just predictions for the coming year. They all come together to form a blueprint, a roster of must-haves for any successful enterprise solution. Can you imagine someone launching a product today that isn’t cloud based, or that locks out mobile users? Can you picture a mission-critical enterprise platform that doesn’t take advantage of big data gathered and analyzed in real time? Or envision a thriving platform that’s disconnected from social network activity?

For years, enterprise buyers put up with plenty from solution providers. They accepted complex, expensive, difficult-to-use applications that were too inflexible to take advantage of emerging technologies such as mobile or social business networks. Now that 3rd Platform solutions are the real drivers of IT growth, companies are discovering precisely where their premise-based legacy solutions have been coming up short all along.