The current economic climate is having a devastating effect on almost every business around. In order to adapt to changing conditions and opportunities, businesses will need to use flexible, adaptable systems to survive. The days of expensive year-long implementations of behind-the-firewall software look to be behind us.

I recently attended a Forrester Briefing and listened to comments by analyst Peter Burris, a very smart guy. The company has done a host of studies showing that technology will be a growing part of how businesses compete and differentiate themselves in the future.

While systems and software used to be very “behind the scenes” and often transaction-based, that is the case no longer. Consumers and businesses alike buy differently, consume differently, and recommend differently. Trends such as social networking, video on demand, and e-commerce will continue to force businesses to adapt to keep up with their customers. They cannot rely on systems that take years to implement, and most don’t have the budgets to make large investments, at least they won’t for the next couple of years.

The growing focus on SaaS, cloud computing, application platforms, etc. are all responses to this growing trend in the market. There will be other solutions in the future for mobile, etc. that we haven’t even imagined. They all drive businesses to use systems that they can deploy, change, and retire quickly. In my main job, I remember meeting a venture capitalist who talked about how his firm looks for opportunities in which it sees lots of “wiggling.” He couldn’t describe what that really meant, or how one gets paid for wiggling. I thought he was a lunatic.

In retrospect, he does make a good point. Things happen quickly on the Internet and in this changing global economy. When a business sees wiggling (or opportunities), either positive or negative, they need agile systems to respond. One-size-fits-all software and packaging are going the way of the VCR. I think this will continue to grow in importance and focus as enterprises evaluate new systems and invest in new technology. What do you think?