Where Enterprise Apps are Headed in 2020

Chris Sherman

Updated · Dec 24, 2019

As the saying goings, hindsight is always 20/20, but with the new year coming there is plenty of foresight and predictions for 2020.

The enterprise applications space has undergone significant disruption in recent years, which is likely to continue for years yet to come. In this 2020 predictions roundup, EnterpriseAppsToday has assembled insight from industry experts on what to expect for the year to come.

Application Security

“The industry will start to ‘think right to shift left.’  

There are more apps in production than before, and the risk of apps being breached at this stage is at an all-time high. Apps in production are most vulnerable, with a higher time to fix and window of exposure. Plus, with most development teams short on resources, it’s often hard for them to focus on the security aspect. Therefore, these apps are easy for hackers to exploit. In fact, an average of more than 50% of apps are always vulnerable for organizations that don’t have the right secure development practices in place.  

When you ‘think right’ you are:

  • Starting with highest-risk apps in production to find and fix vulnerabilities
  • Incorporating security measures at the most critical points in the software lifecycle (SLC), starting with production
  • Integrating security throughout the SLC from production all the way to development  

In 2020, we will see this approach being adopted more widely.”

— Setu Kulkarni, VP, Strategy and Business Development, WhiteHat Security 

AI/Machine Learning 

 “Most artificial intelligence (AI) technology today relies on the cloud, and makes decisions based on the collection of data that is stored in the cloud it is accessing. However, this can cause latency as data has to travel to data centers and then back to the device. For example, this can be problematic for self-driving cars, which cannot wait for the roundtrip of data to know when to brake, or how fast to travel.  

As a result of this, more organizations are turning to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and edge computing to capture data at the source of creation, specifically to support high-performance use cases, such as AI. The implementation of HCI and edge computing in AI will see the industry reduced form factors, since HCI allows for technology to operate within a smaller hardware design. In fact, some companies have already announced that they will be launching HCI edge compute clusters that are no bigger than a cup of coffee.  

By 2020, it is expected that 80% of all devices will have an artificial intelligence (AI) feature. While the cloud has provided AI the platform it needed to grow to the level of being available on nearly every technological device, the combination of HCI and edge computing will give AI the tools needed to evolve to the next frontier, with smarter and faster decision making for organizations in 2020.”

–Phil White, CTO, Scale Computing

The Dawn of Hybrid Apps

“A hybrid app is an application that's more or less an aggregate of various microservices. It’s a way to build best-of-breed applications and differentiated services that can help organizations stand out from competitors.   

Imagine the ability to leverage data services from one cloud provider and machine learning or analytics to another. Or perhaps you have a business partner who has built services that want to run adjacent to your data. For organizations, innovation is no longer limited by what can be offered from a single cloud provider. A platform (like what we offer at VMware) can bring all these heterogeneous services together and run these in ways you just can't do anywhere else.   

Meetings with IT leaders throughout 2019 showed me there’s an appetite for the flexibility to build applications that combine the best native cloud services and open source technologies.”

— Chris Wolf, VP of VMware's Advanced Technology Group


“2020 is when the reality of autonomous teams is going to hit. The majority of enterprises are changing their software development organizations to have durable, multi-year funded, 2-pizza sized teams that have transformed from project oriented to real product teams. These teams are self-directed with high-level goals that they will implement iteration after iteration. That transformation is going to be even more pronounced in 2020.   

Managing risk, compliance and governance will create friction to their success.  If you want an analogy, this isn’t all that different than giving car keys to a teenager. The goal is that we have to get teams to a place so that they can act autonomously, but they don’t do damage to anyone else they are sharing the roadways with. We want everyone to drive on their own – and now is the time when we actually figure out how to make it happen.   

While Agile practices help solve problems in planning, new problems arise around risk & compliance, governance and activity coordination between teams. Agile practices alone can’t solve these problems but rather a systems approach dealing with Agile and DevOps practices enable the product teams of the future. Product management will expand in caring not only about the features they deliver, but the efficiency of the software factory that produces them.”

–Jeff Keyes, Director of Product Marketing, Plutora


“In 2020, we will (finally) understand what observability is *for*. 2019 was a breakout year for ‘observability' as a term, but most of our industry still doesn’t know why they need it or how to develop a strategy around it. In 2020, we’ll hear more about how high-quality observability enables more frequent releases, a faster end-user app experience, reduced downtime, and other critical product and engineering objectives.

At the same time, we will stop confusing high-quality observability with high-quality telemetry: in 2020, the CNCF’s OpenTelemetry project will both standardize and automate the collection of traces, metrics, and logs, moving our evaluation of effective observability beyond the bits and bytes of the raw data, and instead towards the real-world use cases that actually drive business value for the enterprise.”

– Ben Sigelman, CEO and Co-founder, LightStep

From Whiteboard to Boardroom – Making Data Matter to the CXO:

“In the next decade and beyond, data will continue to be a key driver for businesses across various industries. From financial services to the retail industry, data will become the business. However, these companies–and their employees–need to understand the role of data decision-making, enabled by artificial intelligence, in order to drive their business in a positive direction.

To start, businesses will need to invest in education. By training their overall workforce on AI, ML, and data as a whole, they will be able to keep up with the industry shift from code-based solutions to data-based solutions. Many companies are unable to pinpoint their business challenges because they are unable to understand their data, resulting in losses that could quite possibly have been prevented if the data had been analyzed properly.”

–Irina Farooq, Chief Product Officer, Kinetica

On redefining the independent software vendor (ISV) in the age of AWS

“In 2020, the independent software vendor will come to mean independent of Amazon public cloud dominance. We will see the emergence of a strong cohort of vendors that succeed and flourish amidst public cloud dominance. They will have at least three of the following characteristics and any with all five will prevail in its market: 

Focus: as an ISV you will be more focused on your specific domain vs. Amazon who covers the gamut in a basic way.

Pervasiveness: An ISV is able to be multicloud and also exist on-premise. Amazon will never be multicloud, and they are highly unlikely to be on-prem. 

Ecosystem: ISVs are capable of a segment specific ecosystem. An ISV can cultivate a better ecosystem for its specific segment of the market.

Data: As an ISV, you have an opportunity to productize proprietary datasets to fit your domain that can be included with independent offerings as a value-added, third party, starter data set.  ISVs have the depth of knowledge and focus on their market and are more likely to understand how to apply these to support the buyer's journey. While Amazon could technically do this, they are more likely to have a broad understanding across the stack rather than a specialized understanding.

Vertical integration: ISVs know their domain in an intimate way than Amazon can ever achieve, ISVs can integrate more vertically to support the practitioner/buyer’s journey.”

–Emil Eifrem, CEO and Co-founder of Neo4j

In 2020, SaaS fatigue will start to set in

“In 2020, we will start to see SaaS fatigue set in as the landscape becomes overcrowded and overwhelming. Costs will begin to reach a point where the CFO will get involved. As the initial euphoria wears off, the C-suite will need to coordinate on where SaaS is becoming more of an inhibitor than an enabler. That means SaaS companies will need to make sure they're proving their value every minute of every day.”

–Gainsight CIO Karl Mosgofian

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseAppsToday and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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