Sharyn Leaver By Sharyn Leaver

As we enter a new year, business process & applications professionals who want to stay ahead of the pack need to know what to expect in 2009. Uncertain economic times lie ahead, and those professionals who know what is on the horizon will best weather the storm. Here are some key trends in key process and app areas that our analysts predict for 2009:

Financial Performance Management: Financial management professionals stand in the spotlight as the economic downturn continues and companies cope with weaker demand, price pressures, rising costs, and credit constraints. Technology and process strategies in 2009 will focus on improving planning, budgeting and forecasting, and cash and risk management while under the cloud of a very uncertain and unfavorable tax environment.

Human Resource Management: Many organizations are now faced with the challenges of hiring freezes, cost management and workforce reductions. HRM technology solutions can help savvy HR professionals strategically manage through the crisis and prepare as the climate shifts to the upside. Trends to follow in 2009 include managing and developing talent, embracing HRM analytics, Web 2.0 adoption, and HR technology strategy. Paul Hamerman and I recently recorded a podcast on HRM Trends for 2009. Click here to listen.

Customer Relationship Management: Our recent surveys and interviews with customer-oriented business and IT executives suggest that the business needs driving sustained investment in CRM in the recent past will be even more compelling. Six trends dominate the agenda of CRM professionals: 1) the necessity to adapt to the rapidly changing "social" consumer; 2) the need for more robust CRM strategies; 3) the requirement to build bulletproof cases to gain project funding; 4) the need to reduce CRM project risks; 5) the imperative to unlock the value of customer data; and 6) the battle to redress vendor pricing and licensing arrangements.

Keep an eye out for more 2009 process and apps trends in our research line-up, and let us know what you’re seeing or expecting.