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M&A, IPOs, in-memory tech, and end of a feud mark top software stories

Emergence of human capital management software also marks year for enterprise tech

By Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service
December 05, 2013 01:52 PM ET

IDG News Service - It's been another busy year in the enterprise software industry, marked by high-profile acquisitions and IPOs, the rise of in-memory computing, a red-hot HCM (human capital management) market, and even the apparent settling of a long-running Silicon Valley feud. Here's a look at some of the highlights.

In-memory databases going mainstream: SAP has been hyping its HANA in-memory computing platform for a few years now, but the clamor around in-memory got even louder in 2013.

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In June, IBM introduced in-memory features for its DB2 database and the new Microsoft SQL Server 2014 also includes in-memory capabilities. But perhaps most telling was the in-memory option Oracle announced for its flagship database, which has long held the most market share, during the OpenWorld conference in September.

[WHAT THEY SAID: The year in quotes]

The in-memory option will provide "ungodly" database speeds, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said during a keynote at the event.

SAP has been attempting to migrate customers from Oracle's database to HANA, promising them better performance and simplified deployments, and the in-memory option certainly seems like a hedge against this.

While Ellison didn't attack HANA during the keynote, expect some chest-thumping from the CEO next year, when Oracle's in-memory option is scheduled for release. IBM, Microsoft and others won't be silent either.

HCM (human capital management) heats up: HCM (human capital management) was one of the hottest enterprise software categories this year, particularly in SaaS (software as a service) form. While much attention went to Workday's successful IPO in October, plenty of other HCM vendors had strong years, said analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research.

Companies have been running their legacy human resources systems for 20 years, and the replacement cycle is revving up, Wang said. "There's a whole life around this stuff that didn't exist before. There's so much interest and pent-up demand."

Customer experience, not CRM: CEM (customer experience management) emerged as a defined category this year, as vendors made strings of acquisitions in order to build out software suites that combine sales automation with customer service, social media analytics and marketing.

The common goal: Sell these unified technologies not to CIOs, but to chief marketing officers that want to build stronger and ultimately more lucrative connections with customers.

"People realize the age of digital business is here," Wang said. "Every interaction is an opportunity to sell or impart an experience. We don't sell products and services anymore. Customers are buying experiences and outcomes." announces Salesforce1: During the Dreamforce conference in November, announced Salesforce1, a new version of its development platform with a particular focus on mobile applications. Although partly a rebranding effort, Salesforce1 pulls together the company's original platform along with development tools from its Heroku and ExactTarget acquisitions.

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