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2016's top trends in enterprise computing: Containers, bots, AI, and more

Blair Hanley Frank | Dec. 22, 2016
It's been a year of change in the enterprise software market.

It's been a year of change in the enterprise software market. SaaS providers are fighting to compete with one another, machine learning is becoming a reality for businesses at a larger scale, and containers are growing in popularity.

Here are some of the top trends from 2016 that we'll likely still be talking about next year.

Everybody's a frenemy

As more and more companies adopt software-as-a-service products like Office 365, Slack, and Box, there is increasing pressure to collaborate for companies that compete with each another. After all, nobody wants to be stuck using a service that doesn't work with the other critical systems they have.

Over the course of 2016, there has been an avalanche of partnerships aimed at enhancing products for joint customers. For example:

  • Slack and G Suite have teamed up to make the chat software work better with a business that uses Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
  • Box continued to work with just about everybody it can. The cloud storage company announced support for storing Google Docs and unveiled a new app made with the help of IBM.
  • SAP and Microsoft expanded their partnership to offer the HANA database in Azure, along with integrations for Office 365 with Fieldglass, Concur, and SuccessFactors.

And that’s just scratching the surface. As it stands, even tech titans like Microsoft can't own the entirety of a customer's software business. It wouldn't be surprising to see more announcements and see more companies connecting services from vendors that are direct competitors.

The good news is these partnerships are beneficial to customers. Two companies working together to improve their products can help make both more useful for joint customers. There are still some lines that haven’t been crossed (don't expect an Office/G Suite or an Oracle/Salesforce tie-up anytime soon, for example) but just about anything else seems possible.

Machine learning is like sriracha -- it goes with everything

The rise of cloud computing has made wide-scale machine learning possible. Now, enterprise software companies are using those advances to bring intelligent systems to everyday folks.

Salesforce is using a set of machine learning-driven "Einstein" features to enhance its platform. Microsoft is using machine learning to upgrade Office, Google is using it in G Suite, and the list goes on. Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have each launched APIs allowing developers to easily bring intelligent capabilities into their apps without much work.

Machine learning has facilitated some major innovations this year. Google's AlphaGo system beat Go grandmaster Lee Sedol at a game many people thought was too complex for a computer. 

And that’s just a sampling of what’s been launched, unveiled, and pushed this year. This is one of the major battlegrounds for application vendors and platform providers, so expect to see even more in the future.


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