Diving Deep into Enterprise Software: A Dialogue with Keith Kirkpatrick, Research Director at The Futurum Group

Can you elaborate on the specific enterprise software market segments that you concentrated on in his role as a Research Director?

In my role, I focus on applications that are utilized by enterprise workers, including CRM, ERP, CDP, field service, contact center, retail, manufacturing, and logistics software, and other line-of-business applications.

What are the key components within the enterprise software market that fall under your research focus?

I look at the underlying technologies that are enabling these applications, from artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and RPA, to iPaaS platforms, API managers, and other utility software, including digital adoption platforms.

We have close relationships with nearly all major vendors in the enterprise application space, (see some of our clients noted here:  https://futurumgroup.com/about-us/customer-testimonials/), and regularly speak with other active vendors within in the market, as well as enterprise end users. Most of our research is available on our site, on major social platforms, and on podcasting platforms, without requiring a subscription or a fee.

According to The Futurum Group, what are the observations regarding the market for SaaS/Embedded AI applications, and how do you characterize its competitiveness?

The market is headed for consolidation, largely due to enterprises realizing they need to consolidate their technology stacks to better manage costs, reduce security risks, and prepare for the ubiquity of artificial intelligence across a greater range of workflows and processes. Large vendors, of course, have the initial advantage, given their ability to acquire, build out, and integrate technology for their customers more quickly. The segment will remain highly competitive in the years to come.

Which vendors stand out as key players, and what factors contribute to their significance in the SaaS/Embedded AI market?

Microsoft has established itself as a leading vendor, in terms of quickly integrating AI – particularly generative AI – into its enterprise and consumer products. They have taken a responsible approach to ensuring that the algorithms are grounded in vetted data sources, as well as establishing guardrails to help encourage responsible use. Other large SaaS vendors, including Salesforce, ServiceNow, Adobe, OpenText, SAP, Google, and Amazon, are also taking similar steps.

I see an increased focus on smaller language models that are tuned for specific verticals or functional areas, as the cost of generative AI compute can be expensive, particularly for high-volume applications (such as contact case summarizations, content marketing, and chatbots.) Large language models will not go away, but increasingly will be augmented in the market by purpose-built models that are embedded into SaaS applications where they are most appropriate.

Keith Kirkpatrick is a technology industry veteran with nearly 30 years of experience across a variety of editorial, analyst, and consulting roles. Kirkpatrick focuses on enterprise applications and their underlying technologies, including machine learning, deep learning, generative AI, natural language processing, and robotic process automation, among others. Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Kirkpatrick was the founder and principal of 4K Research & Consulting, LLC, which provided bespoke research for a variety of customers across the technology, financial services, healthcare, and industrial markets. He began his career as a technology journalist, having worked for CMP Publications, IDD, Ticker, Ziff-Davis, and other technology and finance publications.