According to Forbes, by 2020 the B2B e-commerce market will be worth an estimated—wait for it — $6.7 trillion. There are a number of trends in the software industry in particular that will have a significant bearing on your company’s success in cashing in on this growth. The landscape is changing and businesses must adapt to survive. The following five trends are some of the most important changes we’re seeing, and will likely have the biggest implications for your business practices in 2015.
The Evolution of Mobile
According to Entrepreneur, toward the end of 2014, mobile adoption in the U.S. was expected to reach 90 percent, while tablet adoption was expected to pass 40 percent. (Numbers haven’t been released yet this year to confirm those numbers were met but all signs point to yes.) According to Moxie, approximately 30 to 50 percent of online traffic comes from mobile users. Just as significant, consumers spend 15 hours a week on mobile research.
What does this mean for the software industry? It means that the days of catering strictly to desktop users are a thing of the past. Businesses who want to reach the widest audience must look at their mobile offerings with increased scrutiny. Is the company’s website responsive so that it looks great on any device? Is the company’s software available on the top mobile platforms? Does the application’s interface truly represent the experience mobile users have come to expect, or is it overcomplicated and give the impression of being an afterthought?
This is an era where mobile is king and companies who fail to adapt unfortunately do so at their own peril.
Another significant trend that first made headlines in 2013 is “Big Data”. While the National Security Administration has made headlines for cataloguing vast amounts of data, the corporations whose services we rely on daily often collect troves of data on our web-browsing habits (we’re looking at you, Google), all in an attempt to better understand us as customers.
According to Bell Pottinger, spending on Big Data will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 46 percent between 2015 and 2020. In spite of that, it’s estimated that 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies will not effectively use the data they have to gain a competitive advantage in 2015.
Regardless of how we feel about data collection, it’s safe to say that Big Data is here to stay. In the coming years, the companies who can effectively use the data they collect to better meet the needs of their customers are the ones who will find themselves on superior footing.
It’s estimated that as many as 30 to 45 percent of workers are telecommuters, virtual workers or freelance contractors. Given the continued evolution of mobile devices and an ever-connected global workforce, this trend will likely continue.
This presents a significant opportunity for software that focuses on team collaboration, with an emphasis on helping remote workers be productive members of an organization. All other things being equal, that one factor may be enough to cause a company to choose one software package over another.
With so many monumental shifts in the software industry, companies must be flexible in their approach now more than ever. This applies not only to their own internal operations, but also to how they approach clients and customers. A significant tool in this regard is open-source software.
“First and foremost is flexibility, since open-source code can be modified to fit your needs,” writes Scott Taback, Vice President of Business Development at Highland Solutions. “Catering to a particularly difficult set of buyers? While proprietary e-commerce solutions offer some features you need and a host of options you don’t, leveraging open source gives you granular control over user experience.”
Although the above trends offer many advantages, one potential disadvantage is the security concerns they raise. The rise of mobile devices, the ongoing and increased collection of data, and the widespread employment of remote workers all increase the potential for serious security breaches.
As these trends continue to develop, software and solutions that help companies manage their risk and protect the data they’ve been entrusted with will be invaluable components of an ever-changing landscape.
There’s no doubt that we live in an exciting era of changes. Technology has reached a point where things that once seemed firmly in the realm of science fiction and old Star Trek episodes are now realities that affect our daily lives. In the months and years ahead, these trends will undoubtedly continue to play a pivotal role in the B2B software industry.