Industry Update

By Geoffrey James

Here’s what the big vendors did last month and what it means to you.

IBM announced the launch of a front end for their collaborative solutions on a variety of client devices, including PCs to mobile devices, enhancements to Lotus Notes and Domino, new WebSphere Portal and Workplace solutions, new Workplace development tools and a new hosted solution for IBM collaborative software on demand.
Analysis: IBM remains in a difficult position. Although the company still has significant market share in office automation, the company has been losing share to Microsoft for several years. This is an attempt to shore up the company’s product lines.
Advice: Software firms who act as third-party integrators need to examine whether their relationship with IBM’s software organization will continue to be profitable as the company’s market share in key collaborative applications, such as email, continues to decline.

Microsoft announced plans to enhance its antipiracy engineering, education and enforcement efforts by expanding the Windows Genuine Advantage program, which checks the authenticity of a user’s software and provides access to popular software.
Analysis: This is supposed to help customers receive greater reliability, faster access to updates and richer user experiences, but the real purpose is to increase Microsoft’s revenues by gradually forcing bootleggers to pay for their pirated copies.
Advice: Software sales reps usually are aware of which customers have spawned licenses for which they have not paid. Now that the Internet makes it possible to check for application validity, this might be a good time to revisit customer sites and give them a heads-up that they might need to purchase more licenses.

Oracle announced a reduction of approximately 5,000 to their workforce of about 50,000 as a result of the PeopleSoft acquisition. Oracle plans to retain more than 90% of PeopleSoft product development and product support staff and made a commitment to continue to support PeopleSoft product lines until 2013.
Analysis: We told you so. Layoffs after a major merger are par for the course and inevitably create fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) both inside the acquired firm and among the acquired firm’s customers.
Advice: Despite Oracle’s reassuring noises, Oracle’s purge of Peoplesoft management will have repercussions throughout the Peoplesoft development organization. If you resell or partner with the erstwhile Peoplesoft, join the Oracle chorus and keep your base from jumping ship. If you compete, go aggressive, emphasize the FUD and steal as much business as you can while things are in turmoil.

SAP announced an offering for its customers running solutions from PeopleSoft and JD Edwards (JDE) with a road map to move more applications and infrastructure onto SAP. The offering provides companies a safe passage away from the uncertainties arising out of the acquisition of those software brands by Oracle Corporation.
Analysis: SAP’s management, among the best in the industry, clearly sees the opportunity here. (Note: This is exactly the kind of aggressive step we’ve been recommending for the past few months.)
Advice: Partnering with SAP is a good way to break into Oracle accounts. This program offers smaller software vendors an excellent justification for approaching SAP with joint selling opportunities.