Software vendors are going to have to get better at standing out from the crowd and with showing greater flexibility with their channel partners if they are to take advantage of changes happening in the market over the next few years. According to Gartner's latest insights into the global enterprise software market, which it expects to increase by 7.5% and go past the $253bn mark in 2011, the analyst house has made some predictions about the future encouraging vendors to modernise applications in the light of the growth of SaaS and the cloud. Cloud, virtualisation and SaaS are all expected to grow as is the use of social media and networking but the emphasis will be on taking advantage of those developments without spending large amounts of money. Gartner expects the current weakened global economy to persist this year with the focus from customers remaining on tight budgets and upgrading existing systems rather than splashing out on new technology. "In this shifting landscape, vendor differentiation in more competitive markets is crucial to survival. This requires a fundamental understanding of the market forces and business models needed to achieve profitable growth and sustain products and service, marketing programmes and channels," said Tom Eid, research vice president at Gartner. The analyst house highlighted five broad areas of change for the next couple of years with a theme of adapting to changed circumstances but acknowledging the current financial constraints being the main message. The first trend is increasing globalisation with more consolidation expected shrinking the number of software vendors along with an end to the fragmentation of some local markets. The cloud and SaaS will continue to change the way that software is delivered and how services around applications is offered and those developments will go hand in hand with a move by customers towards more modern systems that are designed to automate more business processes. Social networking will grow over the next few years as software is used to enable greater collaboration between employees and context-aware and presence-based computing will be more popular by 2015. Finally the other trend identified by Gartner, software vendors will face opportunities from verticalisation being able to develop then redeploy applications for specific markets across a wider user base. Alongside the Gartner predications Information Builders was also putting its own forecasts out around business intelligence. The vendor expects business intelligence tools to become more widely used and a demand from users for predictive analytics to help them make better decisions. Peter Walker, UK country manager at Information Builders, is dubbing 2011 as "the age of information enlightenment" expecting customers to want data that is more widely available, accessed in real-time and of a very high quality.
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