The year 2014 belonged to Dell with its end-to-end solution portfolio, post-privatization enthusiasm and channel momentum. In 2015 Dell will have to accelerate its market penetration with converged infrastructure, cloud client computing, security and new IT services offerings.
• Key question: Can Dell align its "breadth" capabilities with the "depth" required to position, deploy and support an increasingly-complex portfolio – and can it do so at scale?
IBM began to regain its lost glory in 2014 with rapid-fire Cloud announcements – SoftLayer, Cloudant, Bluemix, Watson analytics, Verse and Cloud Marketplace. IBM is in the best position to cement its place at the CIO table with its Cloud offerings. In 2015, IBM's biggest challenges will be to make all offerings work together instead of "ticking all boxes". Its GBS (Global Business Services) group has to announce bite-sized packaged services solutions, analytical services and performance-based pricing to disrupt the market.
VMware remained relevant in 2014 driven by SDN messaging, AirWatch and Horizon 6. However, VMware is still very focused on leading sales strategy with technology instead of business issues. In 2015 it should try and transition to a "business-pain-point" led sales.
Citrix continued its march in 2014 towards mobility throne with its "any-ness" approach resting on its three pillars of XenDesktop, Netscaler and XenMobile. In 2015 it must announce some major advancements that deliver on the promise of Mobility Delivery Infrastructure (MDI) comprising of three distinct, critical solution pillars: endpoint tracking and security, collaboration and sharing, and app delivery and management.
In 2014, aided greatly by Hana, SAP clawed its way back from a position as an on-prem software monolith to a cutting-edge supplier of cloud-inclusive solutions. The biggest compliment for SAP was the attention it got from competitors and the willingness of other IT companies to partner. In 2015, SAP should focus on integrated-real-time-analytics and simplify the muddled naming of its SMB focused ERP solutions.
2014 saw NetSuite adding deeper focus to e-Commerce (omni-channel), global financial reconciliation and industry vertical implementations thereby enabling SMB firms to be truly competitive in a global market; leveraging speed and agility to outperform larger slower companies. In 2015 NetSuite must integrate mobility and analytics to continue to ride the wave of cloud ERP adoption offering flexibility, low investments and faster implementations.
Salesforce.com is like a runaway train, very difficult to stop and is on a trajectory to reach a US$10Billion business. Its Force.com is a leading PaaS platform, and in 2014 it announced its Analytics Cloud which has tremendous revenue potential. However, 2015 onwards, Salesforce's biggest challenges will be sustaining growth while increasing margins. Salesforce.com has also to figure out moving its CRM offerings from a deterministic model to one that is stochastic. That is, SMBs' sales processes are not sequential but random and the solutions should enable the randomness.
Oracle has quietly acquired companies that complement its portfolio of cloud offerings attacking sales, marketing and analytics. It now has one of the most complete offerings for Sales, Marketing, Analytics and ERP solutions. Its challenge is to make itself known to the SMB community who really do not consider Oracle to be more than a database or ERP provider.
Amazon's AWS has built the most powerful position in the cloud: it is the resource of choice for developers, who in turn deliver application to users who consume AWS cycles. It has frightened other market participants with its "race to zero" pricing actions, while more quietly adding capabilities that deliver PaaS-like capabilities on top of its market-leading IaaS. No Cloud conversation is complete without mentioning Amazon. There are worse challenges than being the leader in the high-growth segment of the market, but there are still challenges: firms ranging from competitors with comparable offerings (e.g., Microsoft, Google) to those with different managed platform approaches (Salesforce, CenturyLink) to those with entirely different market strengths (such as IBM) will all look to chip away at AWS.
HP is the behemoth that wants to be more nimble. The biggest news from the company in 2014 was its splitting into two discrete businesses: HP Inc., focused on its steady (and in the case of print, higher-margin) legacy businesses, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, focused on its higher-growth opportunities in enterprise technology and cloud. Its challenges now revolve around the need to make each business capable of gaining share against their focused competitors, and the corresponding need for accountability to ensure that newly-empowered staff actually deliver on the promise of better returns on HP's investments.
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