12 Massive Changes That Will Transform The Software Industry Within 5 Years

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The software industry is going through the kind of perfect storm that only happens once ever 30 years.

The last time this happened, it created the giants of today, like Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. It also created massive new industries — like computer security software.

The same thing is happening now and in the next five years, the next crop of industry giants and new technologies will arise.

Cloud computing changes how companies buy software.

What's changing: Instead of spending a chunk of cash buying software licenses every three to five years, companies are buying subscriptions and getting their software delivered over the Internet. Most (but not all) enterprise software will eventually be delivered this way.

Who wins: Companies with cloud in their DNA like Salesforce.com, Google Apps and startups who deliver cloud-based point products (OnLive, Workday, Zendesk, etc.)

Who loses: Traditional software players like Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP. They are all investing heavily in cloud computing, but so far, none has made the transition in a significant way. We'll see if they can.

Bottoms-up marketing tactics change which software companies buy.

What's changing: Software is being bought in by the employees who use it instead of by IT professionals. IT folks call it 'rogue' software, but those selling it that way call it 'bottoms up' marketing.

When enough people use it, a company is 'forced' to negotiate for an enterprise subscription to save money or get features that will make the product more secure and manageable.

Who wins: Any company selling directly to employees. This is how Microsoft SharePoint got so popular. Employees were buying it themselves. But services that make it easy for employees to share stuff, like Dropbox, Asana, Hootsuite, Evernote are also big winners.

Who loses: IT departments and sometimes their companies. There are no controls in place to make sure that employees aren't breaking rules like sharing confidential information, or downloading software that has viruses. Expect new technologies like desktop virtualization to rise in reaction (see next slide).

Desktop virtualization changes how companies deliver software.

What's changing: People want to work on their own devices and use software they like. Companies need to control software and protect important data. Desktop virtualization does this. It is like your entire hard drive -- operating system, software, settings -- delivered as a service over the Internet. It is often called Desktop as a Service (DaaS).

Who wins: Companies like Dell, Wipro, VMware, Red Hat, Citrix, and a whole bunch of new DaaS companies like Wanova, Dizzion, countless others.

Who loses: No one. Microsoft licenses Windows per device, so it doesn't lose money -- though if enterprises aren't careful, it can cost them more than using a regular PC. However, DaaS requires a full-time network connection so isn't good for many employees, especially if they travel.

Windows 8's 'Metro' interface will change how people use Windows.

What's changing: Everything about Windows. Microsoft has introduced a new Metro interface that won't work with older Windows apps and has a totally new user interface geared for touch.

Who wins: PC makers, who will be able to use Windows 8 to make Windows-based tablets that are more competitive with the iPad. New Windows developers, as Microsoft is making it easier for them to write applications for Windows. Consumers, who will get more choice in tablets.

Who loses: Microsoft's faithful who hate to relearn how to use Windows. Potentially Microsoft if there's a big backlash against Windows 8 like there was against Vista.

The move to Web apps is breaking Microsoft's monopoly.

What's changing: New web technologies like HTML5 mean that great software can be written for the browser and not a particular operating system like Windows.

Who wins: Cloud/web companies like Google, software developers, and Linux vendors like Red Hat and Canonical.

Who loses: Microsoft and its most established Windows software developers, but maybe not permanently. Microsoft is reworking Windows to make it more relevant to the Web and introducing cloud software like Office 365 and cloud services like Azure. Don't count Microsoft out.

Mobile computing changes where software is used.

What's changing: Software needs to be accessible anywhere on any device and can't be stuck in one place anymore. People want to be able to access work while at the beach or soccer field.

Who wins: Just about everyone. Employees. They get the freedom to work anywhere. Device makers like Apple, HTC, LG and Android owner Google because people own multiple devices. Also network companies like Cisco, Verizon, AT&T.

Who loses: Only companies stupid enough not to see this giant wave of mobile coming. We can't think of any. But we can't predict if giants like Microsoft, Oracle, or SAP will do a good job with their mobile apps and that's the risk.

App stores change how much people are willing to pay for software.

What's changing: Apple's app store has trained consumers to pay a lot less for software than we used to. We're forking out $0-$10 instead of $30-$100.

Who wins: Consumers. Startups with alternative business models: Rovio, Zynga, and so on.

Who loses: Traditional desktop software makers who focused on Windows apps.

The death of the mouse changes the software user interface.

What's changing: Touch and gesture interface is changing how we interact with software.

Who wins: Our wrists. People with disabilities. Plus gesture-based computing has created a whole new class of cool apps like these Kinect Hacks.

Who loses: Trackball makers and mice makers like HP, Logitech, Microsoft, and Apple. Traditional PC makers who haven't yet built any tablets competitive with Apple's iPad.

Open source changes how software is written.

What's changing: Software is being written by a crowd -- anyone who wants to contribute -- not controlled by a company.

Who wins: The people and companies using the software. Open source foundations like the Linux Foundation, Mozilla, Apache Foundation, Outercurve. Open source projects from companies like Red Hat, Opscode, and Rapid 7.

Who loses: Traditional proprietary software makers who have to do all the work themselves including Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle. All of these companies have had love-hate relationships with the open source community.

Open source changes who controls software.

What's changing: Many open source projects require that the software must always remain open and available for anyone to see the code and change it.

Who wins: The people using and contributing to the software. Open source companies like Red Hat and Canonical.

Who loses: Proprietary software vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, or CA. They have to be very careful not to accidentally use open source software in their products or they could wind up having to share the code with the world.

Big data changes what can be done with software.

What's changing: New technologies like noSQL databases and Hadoop allow massive amounts of data to be collected, stored, and analysed inexpensively. This allows all kinds of new software to be created.

Who wins: Cloud software companies that service consumers and have to scale big: Zynga, eBay, AOL. Enterprises that want to analyse trends but couldn't afford old fashioned data warehouses. Storage equipment makers like EMC who will sell a lot more disk drives. Data warehouse companies with new products like Teradata. Hadoop startups like Cloudera and MapR

Who loses: For the most part, big data doesn't really replace anything, it augments it. But some forms of it, like noSQL databases, are taking a chunk away from traditional databases built by Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft.

Social media changes how software is used.

What's changing: Social media is being embedded into everything, from our spreadsheets to our televisions. People want to work together, discuss, find experts, get immediate feedback and so on.

Who wins: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Yammer, file-sharing services like Box, Salesforce, social media monitoring tools like Lithium, Microsoft with social tools like Lync, and any other company adding social features to their software.

Who loses: Most companies are finding ways to cash in.

Want to cash in on all these changes? These startups are doing just that ...

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