HCM (human capital management) and marketing software companies may particularly find themselves being courted. Oracle, SAP and Salesforce.com have both invested heavily in these areas already, but the likes of IBM and HP may also feel the need to get in the game.
A less likely scenario would be a major merger between SaaS vendors, such as Salesforce.com and Workday.
SaaS goes vertical: "There will be more stratification of SaaS apps as vendors build or buy with the aim of appealing to particular types of end-user firms," Martens said. "In particular, vendors will either continue to build on early industry versions of their apps and/or launch SaaS apps specifically tailored to particular verticals, e.g., healthcare, manufacturing, retail."
However, customers will be burdened with figuring out just how deep the industry-specific features in these applications are, as well as gauging how committed the vendor is to the particular market, Martens added.
Can't have SaaS without a PaaS: Salesforce.com threw down the gauntlet to its rivals in November, announcing Salesforce1, a revamped version of its PaaS (platform as a service) that couples its original Force.com offering with tools from its Heroku and ExactTarget acquisitions, a new mobile application, and 10 times as many APIs (application programming interfaces) than before.
A PaaS serves as a multiplying force for SaaS companies, creating a pool of developers and systems integrators who create add-on applications and provide services to customers while sharing an interest in the vendor's success.
Oracle, SAP and other SaaS vendors have been building out their PaaS offerings and will make plenty of noise about them next year.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com