It's the year 2010 and Larry Ellison was right. There are only a handful of big software companies serving business customers. Consolidation, risk-averse strategies from customers, and cost pressures have created a smaller, but powerful, industry. But wait. That's just among the traditional software companies, the ones customers are used to buying enterprise applications from today. Business customers still have plenty of options. They can get emerging-technology services from the same people they buy paper products from. Supply-chain tools from the same companies that ship their packages; supply-chain-execution software from the people who make their Scotch tape; anti-spam software (yes, spam is still around in 2010) and broadband services from the people who build the planes we fly in and the defense systems that protect us; E-commerce-fulfillment software from the same place they buy books and music; document-management services from another package-delivery company. Logistics services from a medical-products distributor.
Back to 2004. Maybe there really won't be only a few traditional software companies around (after all, there's a heck of a lot of innovative, emerging companies). But there most certainly will be a significant increase in nontechnology vendors biting off a piece of the traditional software and services industry. Business-diversification strategies aren't new, but increasingly they're leading to innovative technology businesses.
In this week's issue, we begin a monthly series called Transformers that looks more deeply into the strategies of these industry-changing companies that are using their influence and expertise to change markets, to increase the value proposition for their customers, to set standards, and to persuade their business partners to change the way they do business.
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