Over the past couple of weeks, I've rolled out my list of what I believe are the 10 most-influential tech vendors in the world.
A few of you have told me the list was brilliant and dazzling and life-changing (well, actually, no one used any of those terms), while some others, after reading my list, urged me to seriously consider a career change.
I've tried to make it clear that this list based not on revenue size or market cap or stock price, but rather on the the amount of influence each company exerts on business customers, CIOs, and the IT industry overall.
Today's list includes the Second 10: a mix of companies big and small, public and private, hardware and software, some old standbys and some newbies. And once again, the defining characteristic here is influence (with yours truly supplying the non-quantitative judgments).
While this second list of 10—I'll refer to them below as #11 through #20—didn't make the final cut, their impact and leadership in a number of fields make it more than worthwhile for each to be singled out as runners-up.
But first, a quick recap of the Top 10:
And now please meet the Second 10 Most-Influential IT Companies:
#11) Microsoft. My colleagues Rob Preston and Art Wittmann think I'm nuts for not having Microsoft in the Top 10 but I'll again lean on the single criterion of influence as the basis for putting Microsoft at #11. The company is astoundingly profitable, big, pervasive, ambitious, well-known, and busy, and I give CEO Steve Ballmer a lot of credit for what he's done with the company's "all-in" commitment to the cloud and online versions of its products. But, the fact is that the ground no longer shakes when Microsoft walks, and Microsoft no longer sets the course that others must follow. Perhaps that will change, although that'd be a huge challenge for a company of Microsoft's size, and will be even tougher with Ray Ozzie leaving.
#12) EMC. Spanning the dynamic categories of world-class storage to information management and on down to its fledgling move into optimized systems with its acquisition of Greenplum, EMC's got an admirable position in the market, a terrific customer base, and broad set of products and technologies that CIOs depend upon for some truly mission-critical responsibilities. But is EMC changing the game for its customers, and forcing its competitors to react with great urgency? Can it define a new vision for information strategy for the mobile-social-collaborative-ultravideo-always-on world that (a) transcends what EMC currently does and (b) delivers great new business value to customers?
13) Jive Software. The folks that helped make wikis and social media industrial-strength are looking to dramatically accelerate their acceptance among global corporations with their new "social business" strategy. Pairing a range of new products and capabilities with its pioneering technology, and leveraging those with some aggressive new partnerships, Jive has helped lots of big and mid-sized companies take the collaborative-enterprise concept from theory to reality. And, it's the only privately held company on this list—but just how long will that be the case??
14) Citrix. Quietly but assertively assaulting antiquated notions of how IT infrastructures cannot exist without being overly complex, overly brittle, and overly expensive, Citrix has been a trailblazer in virtualization and effective cloud strategies without garnering the fanfare of some of its competitors. But its customers have surely noticed, and CEO Mark Templeton has Citrix closing in on $2 billion in annual revenue as CIOs are placing increasing levels of trust in Citrix to offer not only fresh ideas but also practical and effective technology solutions to the crushing problems confronting CIOs today.
15) Tibco. With several straight record-setting quarters under his belt, and with $1 billion in annual revenue now within range, Tibco founder and CEO Vivek Ranadive has become quite vocal in making the case that the big traditional software architectures designed by big traditional software companies to solve big traditional IT problems are simply not up to the challenges of this second decade of the 21st century. Promising to deliver to customers his "two-second advantage," Ranadive and Tibco are at the forefront of turning real-time business into a reality and giving their customers unprecedented ability to anticipate and eliminate problems, and to anticipate and pounce on opportunities.
Next comes Dell:
16) Dell. A long-time marvel at execution, Dell's become the core for today's new-age data centers stuffed with thousands upon thousands of Dell servers that power some of the world's most high-volume and high-velocity websites. For that, Dell deserves a great deal of credit, as it does for its rejuvenated enterprise business and its acquisition last year of ACS to move into services. But at a time when integrated and optimized systems are looking like the high-performance engines of the future, Dell remains a follower rather than a leader—a fast follower, to be sure, but no longer the cutting-edge innovator it once was when its name was turned into a verb—you got delled!—to describe how its ability to execute overwhelmed many competitors.
17) NetApp. Riding its high-growth traditional business while also becoming one of the core enablers of private clouds, NetApp has racked up some dazzling quarters lately as it's continued to find ways to turn its advanced storage technologies into business advantage by creating systems that simply do more and cost less.
18) RIM. The company whose BlackBerry smartphones used to reign over the enterprise still has a massive chunk of the market and is churning out impressive new products faster than ever before, but will need to find another gear if it hopes to keep up with the iPhone and Android. Its mass has kept its influence strong, but RIM is sitting on the knife-edge—not a comfortable place even in the very best of circumstances—and either it finds a way to recapture the imagination of business consumers or it won't be long before people start asking, "Geez, RIM—whatever happened to them?"
19) Teradata. The data-warehouse kingpin has spent the last couple of years branching into the midrange with a new set of its own products as well as new partnerships with companies like Kalido that expand its addressable market and chip away at the notion that Teradata can only play at the very top of the high-performance, high-price market. This pioneer in optimized systems is seeing lots of competitors adopt its model—can it keep a step or three ahead of the game?
20) CA Technologies. Continuing to specialize in many of the less-glamorous but no less-essential portions of the market, CA Technologies remains a force due to its product breadth, the quality of its technology, and its deep entanglements in data centers where it's earned a position of trust over the past couple of decades. Its early and aggressive move into cloud technologies offers the potential to keep it among the most-influential IT vendors for some time to come.
All right, folks—that's it for the 20 most-influential IT vendors in the world. As always, your feedback is priceless so please keep it coming (and for those of you suggesting I seek a new career, would you mind tossing in a few ideas for what else you think I might be able to do?).
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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