This article was originally written by Kathleen Goolsby and published on SandHill.com.

Editor’s note: Software vendors have jumped into action to widen their competitive advantages and grow their market share even more in 2016. We asked several software executives for their predictions about the areas of change in 2016. These aren’t long-shot predictions. So be prepared and make sure these are not threats to your business. 

Q. Aside from the Internet of Things, which of the following software areas will experience the most change in 2016 – big data solutions, analytics, security, customer success/experience, sales & marketing approach or something else?

Suresh Chandrasekaran, senior vice president, Denodo: “I think three areas will experience the most change. First is self-service data services enabled through data virtualization. Second, logical data warehousing – which combines big data, NoSQL, traditional data warehouses, cloud and SaaS sources – will experience a lot of change. The third area is “transalytics” – the convergence of transaction and analytics systems. This convergence will be driven by three major technologies. At the front end will be more in-memory platforms and BI tools. At the back end will be more powerful transaction engines and data stores. In the middle will be “smart integration” tools like data virtualization and caching engines that know “when to push processing to the data and when to bring the data to the front end for in-memory processing.” 

Jon Fisherco-founder and CEO, CrowdOptic: “Augmented reality. We’ll recognize the pairing of IoT technology and augmented reality, especially in enterprise and field services applications. The pairing will increasingly allow for technology that inherits the view, the memory and analysis of other devices to proactively predict – rather than react to its environment.”

Scott Haug, a partner at Waterstone Management Group: “In 2016, security — already a top C-suite priority — will increase dramatically in both prominence and complexity, driven by the accelerating convergence of big data, IoT and mobility. The proliferation of ‘smart’ endpoints, ranging from connected home devices, smart meters, a myriad of sensors and the connected car, and the increasingly affordable access to smartphones stocked with mobile applications that leverage personal information, will continue to rapidly expand the pool of sensitive data that needs to be protected.

The very technologies that are creating an amazing range of customer experience and industrial efficiency breakthroughs will increasingly stress security capabilities. Big data initiatives and the resulting level of information consolidation enlarge the scale of potential breaches. The accelerated movement to public cloud / outsourced IT services will create even more new challenges. For many companies where security was seen as more of a niche asset, it will increasingly be part of the value proposition and brand promise. All these factors — coupled with a severe shortage of security professionals and the heightened reputational risk associated with a breach— will drive a dramatically enhanced focus on security in 2016.”

Andrew Atkinson, senior director of product marketing, Cloud Cruiser: “There is so much ferment in the analytics space right now (and the potential benefits of better insights are so great) that analytics – particularly tools for non-data scientists – will experience the most change in 2016. Arguably, areas such as customer success/experience or the sales and marketing approach may have more need for change or room for improvement; but these are people issues and thus are unlikely to change at the rate of something that is more purely dependent upon technology. There will be more innovation in big data and the Internet of Things, but those will not become mainstream in 2016.”

Avinash Lakshman, CEO and founder, Hedvig: “Storage and security will experience the most change in 2016. Data is the lifeblood of a modern organization. It’s arguably the most important business asset behind people. We’ve focused a lot on the analytics, but how you store and protect that data is as important to the long-term health of a company. With high-profile data breaches happening several times a year, security is becoming more and more important. According to recent surveys, regulators may hold security vendors directly responsible for security failures in the future. I predict this will mean big changes in how security is done.”

Shirish Netkepresident and CEO, Amberoon: Security. The business risks associated with security are incalculably high for the global economy. Innovation around approaches to security will be on a premium in 2016.”

James Malachowski, CEO and founder, NodePrime: “The data center will experience the most change in 2016. The data center is no longer just a facility but the combination of all of the various forms of technology that comprise the ‘consciousness’ of a modern enterprise. With the proliferation of connected devices and commoditization of hardware, hyperscale data center management is not just for Facebook and Google now. Next year, I believe that we’ll see an increasing need for solutions that provide a holistic view into complex multi-vendor data center environments and enable businesses of any size to operate at scale through automation.” 

Walter O’Brienfounder and CEO, Scorpion Computer Services: “Tired of hearing about corporate cybersecurity risks making national headlines? Get ready to hear far more with the advent of the Internet of Things. I believe a software solution that will become the standard in 2016 is default wireless connectivity settings that send employees to ‘guest networks’ or alternative networks that quarantine any financial or other sensitive data.

Further, I anticipate that we will see cyberhacking audits, and a proliferation of accompanying, robust software become as routine as financial audits, coupled to employee training that incorporates best-available practices to prevent cyber attacks. Awareness that leads to prevention we’ve seen time and time again has been the simplest and most cost-effective solution.”

Darren Cunningham, vice president of marketing, SnapLogic: 2016 will be the year of the data lake. It will surround and, in some cases, drown the data warehouse, and we’ll see significant technology innovations, methodologies and reference architectures that turn the promise into a reality. At the same time, big data solutions will mature (read: security, governance, metadata management) and go beyond the role of being primarily developer tools for highly skilled programmers.”

Mike Rozlog, CEO, dbase: The Agile development process will be exposed as not the end all, beat all of software development methodologies. If management, project managers and developers look at the actual numbers behind Agile, they will see that comparing projects prior to 2002 before Agile was being adopted and after 2002 when Agile became the silver bullet, the percentage of successful projects only increased by 1 percent. Thus, project teams will start to focus less on custom Agile and more on talent, tools and frameworks to get better results.  

Joan Wrabetz, CTO, QualiSystems: I think that DevOps and automation will experience more change than any other area. There is still a big group of small, rapidly growing companies in that space. They are well capitalized, and there is no clear dominant player. Meanwhile, the traditional management software companies are failing spectacularly to provide viable offerings in the space. So, we should expect to see lots of growth and activity in this space and some consolidation plays, possibly even an IPO.”

Ron Bianchini, co-founder, president and CEO, Avere Systems: I think big data solutions in particular will experience the most change in 2016. We’re seeing a lot of tools on the market now, especially from public cloud providers, which allow small businesses to analyze large datasets at a low cost and with few resources. We’re going to see this trend continue in 2016, by seeing a lot more research done by smaller and smaller organizations.”

Al Ramadan, Chris Lochhead, and Dave Peterson, co-founders and partners, Play Bigger Advisors:  “Big data as well as sales and marketing technology will see the most change in 2016. We believe that we’re in the early innings in both of these mega categories.”