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We work on a technology landscape built around cloud computing, social applications, big data and mobile computing, according to Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corporation (IDC). It's the basis for the development of new solutions for the next 20 years, IDC researchers told us as they discussed the top technology trends for 2015 and beyond.

They're not the only ones with a tech vision. Boston-based Nucleus Research has a different take on how things are shaping up in tech:

"Increased transparency and the ability of every business user to increase their influence and impact on IT priorities will shape changes in the way vendors interact with their clients beyond the sale," researchers wrote in their 2015 analysis released this week. "These trends will impact the core application pillars that support the management of people, customers, production and financial management."

Here's how Nucleus sees the 2015 tech scene shaking up.

Forget Custom Code

Fear not: you won't have to custom-code much longer. Applications have become more mature, Nucleus researchers say, and vendors have delivered more functionality.

"At the same time," they wrote, "the evolution of cloud applications that are configured instead of customized has raised awareness of the benefits of limiting customization and custom code on both an initial and ongoing basis. Using toolkits, wizards, and configurators instead of coding accelerates time to value, increases predictability, and reduces risk associated with projects."

Mobile Reality

Mobile's here -- to stay. It will soon be the primary access point for enterprise applications.

"Going mobile for more than read-only access is requiring new thinking about access rights, security authorizations, and the blur between personal and company devices as well, driving spending on mobile device management," researchers wrote. "Mobile has already impacted many applications and job roles, but we’ll see an increasing impact of mobile on workforce management as companies adopt and understand the benefits of using employees’ mobile devices to understand when and where they’re working."

Commoditization for All

Standalone ECM and analytics vendors must pay more attention to vertical solutions and usability (such as mobile) and also "thought leadership in how their applications deliver enough incremental value on their own to justify the cost of deploying and supporting them," according to Nucleus researchers. 

Web CMS vendors with 7-figure maintenance contracts are likely, according to Nucleus researchers, to be hit hardest in the short term.

"Commoditization is happening at the application level but also at the CPU level," Nucleus researchers say. "In the on-premise world, failing servers are replaced, not rejuvenated."

Vertical Requests

Buyers want today capabilities like real code, configurability, blueprints and reference guides. In addition, they are looking for a community of peer references to make decisions and share best practices.

"Verticalization is not new, but a few harbingers for a new level of investment include Infor’s push for microverticals in its new cloud applications, investments of analytics vendors in prebuilt industry solutions and the rise of Salesforce.com’s industry solutions group and industry partner ecosystem," Nucleus researchers wrote. "Although the most visible verticalization investments will be in CRM and ERP, standalone analytics vendors will get in the game as well to differentiate what they provide beyond core (increasingly commoditized) functionality."

Here Come the Breaches -- and E-Commerce

Nucleus expects to see at least one and perhaps a number of high-profile security breaches in early 2015 that will "raise questions about security and reliability of in-house applications to the C-level."

"Given the brand impact and other repercussions associated with a security failure, and the increased likelihood of even the best IT departments falling victim," researchers wrote, "we expect demand for new e-commerce cloud projects to be a rising priority on 2015 schedules and budgets."

More Mr. Smarty Pants Machines

2014 brought more machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities. In 2015, Nucleus predicts, we’ll see more, and they'll "support the management and triaging of new volumes and sources of data, more transparent integration of machine learning and NLP into enterprise applications to drive faster, more intelligent user actions, and a spate of new applications and vendors with innovations in smarter software."

Believe in the IoT

Believe the hype. The Internet of Things (IoT) is for real -- and will make people money.

"The investments leading vendors have made in database design and data mapping, interconnectivity, and blueprints and roadmaps for projects in customer care, operational management, marketing, and other areas will accelerate the delivery of real IoT projects with measurable returns in 2015," researchers wrote.

HR Software to See Challenges

Organizations need Human Capital Management-related business intelligence data to act as one.

"However, it cannot when data sets from acquired technologies struggle to integrate and communicate with those in vendors’ native products," Nucleus researchers said. "Customers experiencing data latency, backward-looking instead of predictive reporting, and less-than-agile applications will face greater risk and higher costs in managing their labor pool. They will also face competitive challenges as those that have chosen more modern integrated applications can rapidly adopt and take advantage of new innovations and capabilities in areas such as NLP and machine learning.

Amazon Factor

Everyone wants to be Amazon. Or at least thinks they need to be like them. 

"Most inventory optimization (IO) tools still rely on sales orders as the trigger for inventory replenishment," researchers wrote. "As companies seek to master demand marked by high volatility inherent in a global, digital economy, they will need to incorporate demand sensing into their calculations for inventory holdings."

More vendors will release IO tools that can capture demand signals directly, Nucleus researchers predicted.

Apple Must Change

Steve Jobs passed. Samsung litigation. A poorly-handled security breach. And these bad habits: overpriced products, new releases without compelling reasons to upgrades and forced proprietary formats that limit customers’ rights to use the digital content.

Not-so-great trends for Apple.

Said Nucleus: "These missteps, coupled with increasing competition in the tablet space -- yes, while it took Microsoft a few tries, it came up with a compelling tablet in the Surface that can be both laptop and tablet at a fraction of the price of a Macbook -- mean that without some real changes in direction Apple will face declining fortunes in 2015 and years to come."

Title image by James Vaughan  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.