1. The cloud grows bigger and implementation innovation becomes more important
Cloud implementations offer the potential for simpler, smaller deployments with shorter cycle times and reduced risk.
A significant part of the risk reduction associated with on-demand software occurs because the scope of these deployments tends to be smaller than full-blown on-premise implementations. In that sense, a simple cloud / on-premise cost comparison isn't fair. For example, a basic Salesforce.com CRM implementation will naturally be faster than an SAP ERP deployment.
Nonetheless, cloud software can pull time and effort from customer implementations, leading to lower cost and risk. I disagree with those who think the cloud is pure panacea -- it's not -- but when a vendor's software as a service (SaaS) offering matches customer needs, the results can be great.
This trend will accelerate through 2010 and beyond, forcing established enterprise software and services firms to figure out innovative ways to improve implementations.
2. SAP takes steps to reduce implementation time, cost, and risk
The company most associated with complex enterprise software has initiatives underway to manage those costs. SAP's mid-level package, called Business All-in-One, already offers a number of innovative techniques to reduce implementation time. Among these are packaged content, called SAP Best Practices, and an impressive customer configuration tool.
During a recent conversation with SAP Executive Board member, Jim Hagemann Snabe, we discussed some of SAP's future directions to improve implementation time and cost. I suggest keeping track of Business All-in-One as a leading indicator for SAP's efforts in this domain.
More significant implementation cost reductions will eventually happen when the All-in-One lessons migrate up to the larger Business Suite product. I don't think that will happen during 2010, but very likely in the two to three years following.
3. Cultural norms evolve to reflect social networking
We are currently in an era where enterprise social computing is expanding rapidly. As more folks use social networking, it will become even easier to make direct contact with others irrespective of location, social position, or professional standing. The implications of this for social and professional fluidity are profound.
Cultural norms around tools such as Twitter will evolve in 2010 and beyond, causing truly positive changes in society and business. I'll be writing about the impact of these changes during the coming year.