Software surprises sure to abound

The year ahead for the enterprise software space promises to hold some of the most intriguing storylines and surprises of any market within the Information Technology arena.

One of the more intriguing microcosms of this space will be that of Business Intelligence and whether it can make the kinds of inroads its vendors would like to see it pull off, both in terms of the actual technology and in terms of increasing the number of customers using the software to better understand just what their businesses are doing, and how they’re doing it.

Most Business Intelligence vendors are looking to move their products out of the pure statistical analysis and display realm and more into the area of providing customers with tangible, easy-to-digest business strategies rendered in everyday business language. Such offerings promise to allow customers to get past the reams of data that older versions of BI software typically spat out and take them a step further.

Instead of simply indicating how many widgets were sold by how many stores across the country, the new Business Intelligence promises to take that information and offer advice on what actions are possible, given the statistics that have been produced.

This coming year should give industry watchers a good idea as to whether this type of product is going to sink or swim in the enterprise. It seems likely that such higher-level information will be of utmost value to the enterprise as discussions around IT and its importance move up the corporate food chain and into the boardrooms of corporate Canada.

Upper-level management usually has little time to interpret the multitudes of data that CIOs might be tempted to use to support their arguments for a newfangled Voice over IP system or an overhaul of the company’s aging storage farm, for instance. Utilizing more accessible business advice provided by the new Business Intelligence offerings should make this task of the CIO somewhat easier.

Other trends that could make 2006 a highly-charged and memorable year in the enterprise software space include the release of Microsoft’s Vista operating system, the developments around service-oriented architectures, and the ongoing developments around enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM).

While this isn’t to denigrate the other categories of IT in which a multitude of eyebrow-raising happenings will occur, those observers looking for a host of surprises needn’t look much further that the software space.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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