Nothing stings like getting slapped with the "old guard" label. In an era defined by the blistering pace of IT innovation, that's exactly the indignity that tech titans like Microsoft, IBM and Research In Motion have been suffering lately.
As business IT grows more social and mobile, Microsoft has lagged behind social enterprise startups and big rivals like Apple. Yaacov Cohen, the CEO of Harmon.ie, a social collaboration software maker, said that next year, the tides will turn in Microsoft's favor and that of its fellow stalwarts.
Cohen argued that Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer and strategic investments in the cloud will start to pay off in 2013. It also helps that Office has a huge user base.
"Microsoft and cool are two words which normally don't go together. But with Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer, Microsoft is now in the driver's seat to deliver the social experience to the millions of Office users," offers Cohen in a statement.
Microsoft acquired Yammer in June in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. Despite some missteps—and potentially irking partners by gobbling up the popular enterprise social media specialist—Microsoft stands poised to deliver a more integrated social experience to Office users, says Cohen. "Yammer, combined with other Office products like SharePoint, will make Office social and for the first time combine business processes with social activities," he adds.
Cohen notes that IBM is charting a similar course by investing heavily in social enterprise initiatives. In terms of software, Big Blue will ride Microsoft' coattails with Office-compatible software like IBM Connections 4.
Microsoft's big cloud push will further help the firm stave off irrelevance. In addition to providing a mobile-friendly computing platform, familiarity, scale and affordability will win out in the end, predicted Cohen.
"Microsoft's entrenchment in the business world will pole vault its new Office cloud to becoming a serious player very quickly. All the advantages of a SaaS offering, attractive pricing and a familiar set of tools will make it hard for competitors to rival Microsoft in the enterprise cloud arena," said Cohen.
Cohen is also encouraged by the comeback plan put together by Research In Motion, the embattled BlackBerry maker.
Once the standard-bearer of enterprise mobility, RIM has seen its market share crumble under the enormous popularity of Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems. But there's a glimmer of hope with the release of a more inclusive BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10.
"With this release, RIM is going back to its roots as the leading secure mobile enterprise solution. Initially, it was through secure proprietary devices. This time it is embracing its rivals by securing all mobile devices: iOS, Android and the new BlackBerry 10," said Cohen.
"The strategy of supporting competing devices will not only grow the iPad market, but it will also be the impetus for RIM's comeback," Cohen said.