In 2016, the enterprise technology market had a wild ride: From explosive IPOs to mega-mergers to surprise acquisitions, it was rarely boring.
Here’s what we think we’ll see in 2017 — the continued rise of Amazon, a new day in the White House, and more.
Amazon Web Services, the retail giant's AUD$17.59 billion (US$12 billion) cloud computing business, is already the most profitable unit in the company.
And yet, pretty much everyone agrees that AWS has yet to peak, continuing to win over large and small companies alike.
In 2016, Microsoft and Google -- widely seen as the second- and third-place contenders in the cloud wars with Amazon, respectively -- made big hires and masterminded partnerships and acquisitions to bolster out their sales pitch to enterprises.
Amazon may be the undisputed leader in the space, but Microsoft and Google aren't taking it lying down. Watch this space: The cloud computing market is still growing, and so vicious competition will be the order of the day.
Salesforce, one of the first (and still the biggest) cloud software companies for the enterprise, is on track to hit $13.83 billion in revenue in 2017.
It's a big milestone for the company, but it also proves that the world is really moving towards cloud computing in general. Salesforce is leading the pack, but it proves a lot for smaller companies, too, even as titans like Microsoft and Oracle rev up their competitive strategies.
In 2016, the Amazon Echo continued its slow but steady infiltration of the living room, as people get more and more used to talking to their technology.
In 2017, get ready for that trend to infiltrate the workplace: We've already seen the first uses for the Amazon Echo and its Alexa assistant in an office setting, and you can expect developers to find more clever uses as time goes on.
Meanwhile, Microsoft keeps pushing the Cortana virtual assistant built into Windows 10, giving it new features for both consumers and business users.
It's going to be a big year for having conversations with your business data, especially given that the Silicon Valley love affair with chatbots is only just beginning.
Related to that first trend, expect artificial intelligence to just keep taking off.
Artificial intelligence, and related technologies like machine learning and deep learning, started to take center stage in the enterprise this year: $12.45 billion startup Stripe released Stripe Radar, an AI-based tool that can detect credit card fraud, while Amazon, Microsoft, and Google all added hardcore AI capabilities to their cloud platforms.
It's a trend that's only going to accelerate. As the huge tech players hire more artificial intelligence experts and refine their offerings, every bit of software — from Salesforce CRM to Microsoft Office — is going to be affected.
And in the startup scene, expect more investment in young companies that enable and empower that smarter business software.
In 2016, Microsoft's futuristic HoloLens, which projects 'holograms' into your field of vision, made its first forays into the real world.
Microsoft signed a deal with ThyssenKrupp to provide its elevator repair workforce with thousands of the headset, helping them do better, faster, and smarter maintenance. As companies like Dell and Asus start to release their own HoloLens-like Windows Holographic devices in 2017, expect them to slowly but surely infiltrate more companies.
Similarly, lots of companies are exploring so-called augmented reality on their factory floors, in their power plants, and in other industrial settings, in ways that help their employees be more productive.
Everything is connected, and there's no exception in business technology.
Literally everything, from factory equipment, to security systems, to thermostats, to the desks you sit at, are getting ever more sophisticated, using data to (ideally) make for a better, smarter, unified experience.
As Amazon, Google, and Microsoft expand the Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities of their cloud products, and as general interest in these IoT devices grows, expect to see a lot more clever uses for these products in the office, the retail store, and the industrial setting alike.
In 2014, a startup called Docker rewrote the rules of the app development game when it spearheaded the push for 'containers,' a trendy and more efficient way to build software. It's a market that's still on the upswing, with Google's homebuilt Kubernetes emerging as one of the leading ways to manage the technology.
Around the same time, Amazon introduced Lambda, a 'serverless' tool that helps developers execute code in the cloud exactly when they need it, no more, no less. It's a little wonky to the nontechnical person, but developers love it, and other cloud platforms are starting to embrace the notion in their own products.
Now, as both ways of building apps are building in popularity, we're hearing increased rumblings from Silicon Valley as debates brew on which is the superior architectural choice for building software. With Docker currently valued at over $1.38 billion, and lots of other container startups springing up around it, one side gaining significant ground could have ramifications across the market.
Change is coming to America, and the enterprise technology market is coming along for the ride.
President-elect Donald Trump's most prominent supporter in Silicon Valley is legendary investor Peter Thiel -- also the cofounder of Palantir, a data-sifting company that's already challenging the way that the Pentagon hands out defence contracts.
With Thiel having Trump's ear, expect a new relationship between enterprise startups and the White House, potentially opening the door for lots of companies closing big deals with the public sector.
As the cloud computing market continues to shake up legacy companies like Cisco and Intel, and as late-stage funding seems to be harder for startups to come by, expect a lot more consolidation and mergers both large and small.
Expect that to carry over into 2017, now that the way has been paved. AppDynamics filed for its long-awaited IPO in the last days of 2016; while $1.38 billion-plus enterprise companies like Okta and Dropbox are considered to be very likely candidates for high-profile IPOs in the coming months.