About the last thing I expected three years ago was that opportunities for new vendor success and startups in information management would be so wonderfully obvious and diverse as they are (really) at this very moment.
And that's what I was thinking before the banking and real estate industries imploded. In that prescient incapacity I qualify as a dismissed former C-level executive. But let's put this in perspective. Well behind the last MDM acquisition spree of Siperian and Initiate etc., it was Oracle that couldn't stop running up its tab and grabbing Hyperion, IBM buying Cognos and SAP with BusinessObjects.
It happened coincidentally with the downturn but business intelligence and performance management were already maturing fast. It was old news software slated for desktop productivity with the attraction of appliances, performance gains and delivery options. Oracle, IBM and SAP were big old companies consolidating mature technologies. Along the way BI seemed to lose its appeal as a luxury-priced item and it felt like we'd already moved on.
And now, a lot of that noisy competitive marketing is gone. You can put a new front end on something and call it new only for so long, and it's especially tough when people are convinced there's more bang for the buck downstream in the market.
Rob Hertzberg covered the entrenched information management market in our recent IM 50 index. That's still where most of the money is though it's never easy to manage growth and opportunity in a mature group of companies like IBM or Oracle or Microsoft (and as of now we seem to have thrown Google right in there with them). Right now they're back in focus groups looking at the next consolidation round.
And today. I'm just wrapping up a list of 40 smaller and newer companies to watch for our July edition, and my chief observation is that there are way too many good ideas on the market for us to account for.
A lot of inventions in software and services just needed time to mature. My 40 companies list started with about 180 vendors, based on reading and chatting up customers and analysts, and because things are happening so quick, I eliminated whole categories I won't deny are absolute cash cows at this moment. These include data warehouse appliances, columnar databases, cloud resources and a variety of open-source BI -- they work, they sell, and a lot of my acquaintances aren't going to be happy with me for this list.
This one's more about buzz and gut instinct and comes with no guarantee. Here is what I think are some of the new or reborn categories: virtualization and infrastructure management, social CRM, just about every flavor of Web, sales or channel data integration, specialized and large-database analytics number crunching.
Don't hesitate to shoot me down when this list comes out in a few weeks. It's not a crystal ball and I'd love to hear your take. Big customers still have long-term plans, but more and more, the bottom end of information management investment is creating the use case for what feels like where we're all headed.