Thursday, September 18, 2008

WSJ Report - mostly upbeat for tech companies

The Wall Street Journal reports that, although some big names are starting to feel the heat from the current conditions, there are some definite bright spots in the picture. Dell announced that demand is weakening for their products. That's to be expected as buyers in every market respond to uncertainty by scaling back on capital expenditures. Consumers are less likely to make big purchases amid all gloomy news, and businesses will probably start to conserve cash more aggressively now that raising funds is getting more difficult.

On the other hand, technology companies with a diversified offering are expecting a good year, in spite of everything that has happened. Cisco and Hewlett-Packard both announced that their upbeat forecasts are in line with expected performance for the balance of the year. Gartner forecast $3.4 trillion in overall IT spending for 2008, up from $3.2 trillion last year.

Put these limited data points together, and I conclude that 2008 will end up being a decent year. It won't necessarily be a great year, but consumers and businesses will find themselves a little better off than when the year started.

Here is the link to the WSJ Article (may require registration): Dell Forecasts Soft Demand, but Rivals are Upbeat

Monday, September 15, 2008

Seeking SAP Skills??

As an interesting follow-on to one of my posts last week, it seems that people who have SAP expertise are in increasingly high demand. An article published at notes that even non-certified talent is seeing big jumps in pay over the past six months.

Other technologies are in high demand as well, but Exchange skills are not as attractive as they once were. I attribute this to several factors. First, Exchange is now far easier to administer than it once was. Furthermore, it has become something of a commodity product. And finally, there are several competing email server applications in the open-source market that have rendered Exchange a bit irrelevant.

But on the SAP side, I believe that there a few primary factors at work. First and foremost, SAP has done an excellent job of expanding marketshare over the past 24-36 months... especially in to the mid-cap space. These companies have likely gotten all they can out of an out-of-the-box implementation, and are seeing the value of customizations. This will represent an increase in demand for people who can execute those customizations, and I believe that the change in demand will hold for at least the next 3 years. Second, the larger organizations - being affected by this increase in demand - are having to up their offers in order to entice the talent they need. This will continue as the business leadership continues to expect more and more adaptation of the systems to their changing requirements. Like the mid-sized players, this reflects an increasing sophistication on the part of business leaders, and can be expected to continue.

Link to the article: Demand for SAP skills keeps rising

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

IT spending absorbs some blows

According to an article on C-NET, Goldman Sachs has released a study predicting that some aspects of IT spending will soften in the current period. The expected growth rate will not be quite as robust, coming in at 4% instead of 6%. Of course, like all economic news, not all sectors fare equally. Plus, the article does not address professional services, such as consulting or staff augmentation.

Nevertheless, there are definitely points of interest. For instance, Microsoft and Apple are neither losing nor gaining wallet share. Two vendors in the thin-computing space - VMWare and Citrix - are on the plus side, along with (shhhhh) Red Hat.

To me, this combination means that the desktop operating system is becoming less and less relevant to the corporate IT decision maker. Application availability, regardless of location or client platform, is gaining favor. And finally, it appears that Microsoft is starting to lose its stranglehold on the corporate computing environment.

Another point of interest is the presence of SAP on the upside. Those who predicted the demise of the proprietary ERP seem to have missed the target there.

I look forward to your comments.

Link to the article: Report: IT spending to drop, but Red Hat and Oracle to clean up

Monday, September 1, 2008

Salesforce and Telephony Integration announced the purchase of Instranet, a maker of call-center technology. Customers who have begun projects to integrate their PBX systems into Salesforce should take heed. Even though they will promise to maintain high quality integration with call-center systems from Cisco, Avaya, et al, it's clear that their priority will shift towards their in-house solutions.

Technology decision makers should also remain diligent in vetting call-center technology, regardless of its integration with a CRM. Tying the systems together is a great benefit. However, it is a rare customer who will directly interact with your CRM. But nearly every customer will have a direct and significant experience with your call-center technology. Be sure to understand what the true extent of the integration benefit is before launching into the project. It's a time-saver, and .... well, that's about it. Time is a precious commodity, to be sure, but get an accurate picture of how much time will really be saved as a result of the investment.

View the press release from CRM Daily: Salesforce acquires Instranet