It is easy to predict what types of technologies will be trendy in the coming months, and harder to predict what developers will do with the technologies to help the enterprise end user. That said, Scott Plewes, VP of user experience at software consulting firm Macadamian, offered up five predictions for enterprise software trends based on his experience with customers.

According to him, the battleground for enterprise software is shifting from what features can be delivered to the usability of a software solution, based mainly on the way companies and individuals work.

Mobile workplaces
The nature of work, Plewes said, is not about mobile technology or applications on smartphones and tablets; it’s about enabling people to make decisions in real time. People don’t always work a 9-to-5 schedule at a desk; they may be changing locations or working in different time zones. Using mobile technologies in the enterprise technology space means that developers need to understand these new environments and allow their solutions to seamlessly integrate into such a workplace.

A mobile workplace, Plewes said, provides different distractions, and it’s important for developers to be aware of creating a user experience that takes these into account. This also ties in with his second prediction, the advancement of cloud computing.

Cloud computing
This is, according to Plewes, best described as the Apple iCloud concept. “The idea is that in the cloud, information is shared appropriately to different devices at different times with the proper security information, without the user noticing,” he said. Seamless sharing, and a security solution for it, will be a trend in the cloud space in the coming year, he predicted.

Context awareness
Developers will have to be aware of not only what types of devices end users are working on, but where they are working, or what  distractions they may have and how the applications can help with these environments.

Plewes said the designer must understand the needs of the user in order to design a proper application. Desktop applications, he said, cannot be simply shifted to mobile apps; some features need to be removed, while others need to be added. Sign on should not be as complex as desktop versions, and security, in some instances, needs to be enhanced.

Data analytics
The amount of data people can consume has not changed, but the amount of data to be consumed has changed, Plewes said. Developers, he added, “need to figure out how to present information quickly so people can interpret it quickly in order to gain the insight necessary to make a business decision.”

Development teams will have specialized sectors, Plewes predicted, that handle different industries as the context and needs of each industry is becoming much different. Vertical industries are developing many more specialized needs that require developers to understand specific business problems in order to create solutions. He said it is similar to the specialization of developers who are experts in a particular language; so there will be trends for developers to be healthcare solution developers, educational developers or financial developers, for instance.

Ultimately, Plewes said it is the job of the developer to work with the entire team to determine what exactly the end user wants and needs. This, he said, will be accomplished by extensive communication between end users and developers, and by proper testing.