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Last year wasn't dull in the world of information management and if even half of these predictions come true, we're in for some interesting days ahead. From the world of enterprise file sync and share, to big data's IPO dreams, to the future of some of the heavy hitters in the industry, there's a little something for everyone.

1. The Enterprise File Sync & Share (EFSS) marketplace will consolidate, rebrand itself and maybe even disappear

There are too many vendors in the EFSS space. According to some sources, there are more than 100 -- that’s about 90 too many. Not only that, but it’s unclear that EFSS is a stand-alone market. Gartner reports that “by 2017, part of the enterprise file synchronization and sharing market will be absorbed into adjacent markets (e.g., collaboration and content management).”

It goes on to predict that less than 10 percent of today's EFSS destination vendors will offer stand-alone products by 2017 and the rest of the vendors will have been absorbed into adjacent markets, such as enterprise content management (ECM), mobility, collaboration and storage. Which vendors do you think will remain intact?

2. Box will work harder to be recognized as an Enterprise Content Collaboration platform

Most of the world still considers it to be Dropbox for Business (and as we have said, Dropbox now owns that title). Once Box’s messaging is effective, it will IPO. If it can’t shed its EFSS skin, it will get acquired or get a new CEO. Dan Lyons, ValleyWag’s new editor makes a good case for an acquisition:

Box isn't working out. Like Twitter, it's a money pit. According to its recent SEC filing, for 2014 Box will take in $125 million in revenues and lose about $170 million. To be sure, that's better than in 2013, when Box lost two dollars for every dollar it generated in revenue. But come on. Box will be 10 years old this year. But come on. Box will be 10 years old this year. If you can't make money after 10 years, what does that tell you? And what is the plan? Is the idea that Box will keep 'investing in the business' and then start making money in Year 15? Or Year 20? Or maybe profitability lies forever out there, beyond the horizon, and everyone says that's okay, like with Amazon? Apparently Box still intends to do an IPO. Maybe that will happen. Even so, Box will end up being acquired. It makes no sense as a standalone business."

Box’s other alternative is to bring on a CEO who can sell Wall Street on its lousy finances. Hortonworks did this when they hired Rob Bearden and he’s done an extremely impressive job. Though it has yet to IPO, Cloudera brought in Tom Reilly to run its growth strategy and tell its story. Aaron Levie needs to let go of the reigns and hand them to someone who is a master. He can still be funny on Twitter and keynote at every conference known to man. 

3. Cloudera and MapR will IPO

MapR is on record saying that it'll IPO in Q2 of this year, but the question is why wait given Hortonworks’ recent success? And Cloudera might be well served to ask itself the same question as its story is already well-polished.

4. EMC breaks up with VMWare and EMC CEO Joe Tucci won’t retire as scheduled

EMC’s activist investor Elliot Management says EMC is weighing down VMWare, so they’re pushing EMC’s board to release it. In a letter to EMC’s board it wrote: "EMC owns great assets, but shareholders and management are not realizing the value they should from the highly attractive businesses within EMC's holding company structure. The potential for a separation has often been discussed, and the benefits from a value standpoint are enormous."

EMC CEO Joe Tucci has promised to have discussions around this early this year. At the Wells Fargo Securities Tech, Media and Telecom Conference he told investors that while EMC could easily spin out VMware as a separate company, EMC staying together as a whole is better positioned for growth. Whether investors buy his pitch is in question. Though EMC’s stock has risen of late (much of it may be based on VMWare/EMC rumors), it hasn’t kept up with other tech firms.

Not only that, but Tucci will likely ask himself if early 2015 is the best time for him to retire -- after all, he’d be abandoning the ship in uncertain waters. It’s doubtful that he’d want this to be his legacy, especially because he’s had such a stellar record up until now.

5. Neither Watson nor the Apple partnership will help IBM as quickly as investors might like

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Kingsbury IBM is the DJIA’s worst performer of 2014 and “the first Dow component to be bottom of the barrel in consecutive years since now-departed Bethlehem Steel in 1995 and 1996.”

At around this time last year CEO Ginni Rometty announced a $1 billion investment in Watson which was being sold as the new hope for IBM’s future. And though its big data crushing, analytical acuity keeps being praised in the media, investors don’t seem to care. The big question is what can Watson do to inspire them?

Here’s a hint: Why doesn’t Rometty ask Watson how to fix IBM?

6. Mobile and messaging are the enterprise’s new hot tickets

Just look at Slack’s growth. As of October it claimed to have 30,000 active teams sending over 200 million messages each month, with more than 73,000 of the daily active users registered as paid seats. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that it’s been out of beta for less than a year.

Needless to say, I could predict more, but I’m more interested in hearing what you have to say. Tweet to me @actbrilliant or write to me Virginia@BigDataGeeks.com

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  Andy Atzert