Predicting the State of Online PM Software: Was Jason Westland Right?

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This is a guest post by Jason Westland. Some links are affiliate links.

At the end of 2013 on this blog, I made three predictions for the future of online software. This is one area of project management that is evolving at a rapid pace, and I wanted to call out the trends I was witnessing.

It’s no secret that project management is a skill in demand. PMI predicts that through 2020, 1.57 million new project management jobs will be created every year. When I read that figure, I initially assumed that senior executives were recognizing the value that mature project management practices had on organizational results. They might recognize that as fact, but they aren’t seeing those results a lot of the time: I was surprised to learn that only 56% of strategic initiatives are successful.

The industry overall has its challenges, but what’s the outlook for project management software? While I didn’t have a crystal ball, I was basing my predictions on my knowledge of the project management and software industries. Let’s look back and see whether my predictions came true.

Prediction #1: Mobility will increase

I knew that we’d see more project management tools offering apps and tablet-friendly mobile sites, but the rate of mobile device adoption continues to be staggering while usage trends are still being studied. already had apps for Android and Apple devices but we redesigned our website this year to be more mobile friendly, with easy redirects to the apps to give users choices.

Gartner’s research into the technology trends of 2015 [link removed — no longer available] supports this, too. Given the growth in mobile device usage, Gartner predicts that it will be more important to serve the needs of mobile users in various situations. They also report that traditional deployment model for on-premises software is expected to significantly shrink from 34 percent today to 18 percent by 2017 [link removed — no longer available]. That, combined with the analysts’ view that by 2018 nine out of ten phones will be smartphones, points to the view that mobile solutions are on the increase [link removed — no longer available].

Project managers need to access their schedules and task lists from remote settings including home, the office and on the road, often in places with limited internet service. At we’ve released a number of improvements designed to improve the speed and performance of our software to make it easier to use wherever you are.

Verdict: Mobile usage is on the up, and usage will continue to be a focus next year too.

Prediction #2: More focus on security

I predicted that there would be more emphasis on securing project and customer data, but I couldn’t predict the large number of high profile data leaks that made the news this year. Security has definitely been on the radar over the last 12 months. PwC say that the total number of security incidents reported in their Global State of Information Security® study rocketed to 42.8 million this year, up 48% from 2013.

However, they also report that companies are investing in security solutions, especially in the mobile arena. Over half of respondents have implemented a mobile security strategy, up around 12% on last year. Project stakeholders need to know that their confidential project records are safe online.

Verdict: With more media attention on data security, project stakeholders will continue to demand security as a high priority in project management. already uses bank-level software encryption and over the coming year we’ll see more and more companies adopt transparent security models that build customer confidence.

Prediction #3: Greater interoperability

I predicted that we would see more interoperability – tools that interact with each other, or interfaces that offer access to multiple tools from one device or portal.

I originally thought that this would be dependent on vendors using standards and formats that provide a common platform, and other vendors potentially offering integration options, but the market has evolved in a different direction with the same objective: big data.

Big data – storing data sources from multiple systems in one place so that they can be analysed comprehensively – has also featured prominently in the news this year. Accenture reports that 89% of businesses who implemented big data projects are using the information to develop new products or services. More than one in three organizations said integrating with existing systems was a challenge, so that’s an area that many businesses will be focusing on during 2015.

Verdict: has definitely moved forward in terms of interoperability. With the big data trend showing no sign of slowing down I think we can safely say that bringing data sources together to provide better experiences for users is on the up.

I still don’t have that crystal ball but with big data solutions on the horizon, companies have more opportunities than ever before to tap into the knowledge in their own organization. They’ve got the power to build their own futures, and to commission the projects to turn those visions into reality. There has never been a better time to be a project manager.

About the author: Jason Westland is CEO and founder of the award-winning business, a SaaS project management software tool that is used in over 100 countries by organizations such as NASA and The United Nations. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Project Management Life Cycle, and he writes a regular newsletter which is read by 320,000 industry professionals around the World.

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