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Enterprise application spending: Where's all the money going?

Worldwide enterprise application spending is expected to rise, driven by modernisation, functional expansion and digital transformation projects, according to Gartner.

In fact, it is expected that worldwide spending will grow 7.5% to reach $149.9 billion in 2015, increasing to more than $201 billion in 2019.

"The majority of spending is going towards modernising, functionally expanding or substituting long-standing business and office applications with cloud-based software-as-a-service," says Bianca Granetto, Gartner research director.

"Projects have been approved and budgeted for, often over a multiyear period, meaning the pace of spending and adoption isn't subject to any impending urgency," she says. 

The market subsegments showing the highest growth during the forecast period of 2014 through 2019 will be marketing, e-commerce and advanced analytics software, according to the analysts.

Gartner has identified a number of key trends in the application software market that affect the spending forecast:

Modernisation of core enterprise applications

In a recent Gartner survey, 45% of respondents said one of the current top five IT project priorities is "application modernisation of installed on-premises core enterprise applications" and a further 41% indicated that "extending capabilities of core enterprise applications" is a top five priority.

Transitioning to new consumption models

As subscription-based alternatives and particularly Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) are being adopted by organisations, a more predictable revenue pattern will emerge, says Gartner.

According to a Gartner survey, alternative consumption models to traditional on-premises licences are accounting for more than 50% of new software implementations. These include SaaS, hosted licence, on-premises subscriptions and open source.

The rise of digital-business-related market dynamics

Competing successfully in the digital industrial economy is rapidly becoming a leading strategic imperative for businesses all around the world, says Gartner.

This shift in business priority and focus brings a new perspective regarding applications. For example, the need to compete on an increasingly global scale stimulates enhancement, rationalisation and re-engineering of supply chains, leading companies to modernise their supply chain system or adopt the latest supply chain management applications, according to the analysts.

Organisations will extend or replace human capital management systems with SaaS

Gartner predicts that by 2019, approximately 28% of installed human capital management systems globally will be SaaS-based, up from 13% in 2014.

The inflection point globally will occur over the next five years as organisations replace their current systems or extend their current systems with SaaS-based solutions.

Application purchases will increasingly be ‘build’, not ‘buy’

Gartner predicts that by 2020, 75% of application purchases supporting digital business will be ‘build’, not ‘buy’.

Gartner's research shows that many organisations already favour a new kind of ‘build’ that does not include out-of-the-box solutions, but instead is a combination of application components that are differentiated, innovative and not standard software or software with professional services (for customisation and integration requirements), or solutions that are increasingly sourced from startups, disrupters or specialised local providers.

Reaching the cloud office tipping point

Gartner estimates that during 2015, 15% of business users are provisioned, in whole or in part, with office system capabilities from the cloud. Gartner expects this percentage to grow to around 60% by 2020.

Since mid-2014, Gartner has seen a sharp acceleration in client inquiries regarding cloud office adoption.

From a revenue growth perspective, the widespread move from on-premises to cloud office will disrupt the traditional revenue flow as more organisations pay smaller increments over a longer period of time, the analysts say.

Advanced analytics adoption to grow

Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 75% of organisations will deploy advanced analytics as part of a platform or analytics application to improve business decision-making.

Companies are accelerating the shift in focus of their investments from measurement to analysis, forecasting and optimisation. Deployment of advanced analytics technologies will become critical to achieving those aims, says Gartner.

Customer relationship management continues shifting to the cloud

Adoption of CRM via the cloud is becoming commonplace, with organisations increasingly utilising a hybrid model of on-premises and cloud products.

However, SaaS adoption in some emerging regions is constrained by network and data centre infrastructure, government regulations on customer data moving across borders, and the lack of local-language SaaS/cloud offerings.

Build-out of data centres by vendors and investment in local-language offerings are now on the rise and will begin to bear fruit, Gartner says.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, about a quarter of organisations in emerging regions will run their core CRM systems in the cloud, up from around 10% in 2012.