Almost a decade ago the software as a service concept lived out a hopeful, but exiguous existence under the banner of the application service provider, which came to grief in the dotcom bust.
Ten years on and the IDC is predicting that online service delivery will account for 10% of the enterprise applications market in two years' time. Between then and now looms the rise of Google, which has software as a service written into its very DNA.
In the enterprise, uptake is likely to be on a granular, application-by-application basis. But the growth is fast. Why? Partly, it is the speed of business application deployment that software as a service makes possible. The model also takes the pain out of support and maintenance any additional functionality required simply appears. Moreover, if you operate globally and operate on a 24x7 timescale, software as a service can be of signal benefit.
There is also a new horizon of more specific services that can be delivered on the software as a service paradigm, and these include the outsourcing of specific business processes.
One day all software will be delivered this way - perhaps.
ERP systems have failed to deal effectively with the very granular data needs in this sector. Manufacturers are, consequently, upgrading their ERP systems and deploying business intelligence software to degrees less common in other sectors, such as finance.
Some are also moving to ERP systems that can be offered as a web service.
These service oriented developments are creating a new business-IT nexus of ever-increasing complexity, but also efficiency. It should make for a more and more stimulating environment for IT professionals to develop business careers.