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4/7/2010
07:54 AM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Top 10 Most Strategic Vendors' #1 Challenges

Ten of the market's leaders made a colleague's "Most Strategic" list, and here are the single biggest challenges each one is facing.

Several weeks ago, my colleague Rob Preston compiled a compelling list of the companies he believes make up the Top 10 Most Strategic Vendors. As we see and hear more signs of increased purchasing activity among CIOs, it's important to understand the primary challenge faced by each of the 10 companies on Rob's list.

So for each of Rob's 10, here's a list of their #1 challenges.

1) IBM. While displaying excellent financial management as it's moved aggressively into services and software, IBM is now facing some very direct competition from both Oracle, which has vowed to take IBM on in the business of integrated and optimized systems, and from Hewlett-Packard, which is impressively weaving its services and infrastructure strategies together. Now that IBM has completed its strategic transformation and shown its ability to deliver great financial results, can it generate the top-line growth needed to satisfy investors and remain ahead of HP and Oracle?

2) SAP. Some very public management changes and admissions of operational problems have marked the first few months of SAP's 2010. With those spectacles now behind it, here's the question: Can SAP become a much faster and nimbler company while also leveraging its incredible database of customer best-practices to become a strategic supplier of cutting-edge technology *and* market insights?

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3) Microsoft. The company stumbled around a bit the past few years but seems to have found a rallying cry around cloud computing. And CEO Steve Ballmer has declared unequivocally that when it comes to cloud computing, Microsoft is all in. Will Ballmer be able to drive his personal passion and commitment through a large and sometimes-disjointed organization to deliver breakthrough products and services that grab not only the attention but also the wallets of CIOs?

4) Oracle. Having just posted very impressive financial results, Oracle seems to be making very good progress with its integration of Sun. Question: Can Oracle withstand the heightened competitive pressures already coming from IBM and sure to come from SAP and HP and others while also delivering to customers the level of flexibility that CIOs are demanding here in 2010?

5) Cisco. As we noted earlier this week, opinions are split about where Cisco's current strategic arc will take the company: some feel John Chambers is doing a great job of leading the company into growth markets while others feel Cisco's core businesses are flattening out faster than its new opportunities are ramping up. Question: Can Chambers drive the appropriate level of self-sufficient intensity through Cisco's wide-ranging businesses—from FlipCams to TelePresence to Unified Computing System—while still presenting corporate customers with a single, customer-centric approach?

Next: HP

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