Top Software Vendors of 2008: What Makes a Successful Software Company?

Baseline Magazine has just published the top enterprise software vendors of 2008, the results of a survey of IT executives reported in their CIO Insight 2008 Vendor Value survey.

What can we learn from this list? What does it take to be a successful software vendor in the eyes of enterprise IT customers?

Here are the rankings:

  1. Google
  2. Redhat
  3. Citrix
  4. Adobe
  5. Novell
  6. Salesforce.com
  7. Microsoft
  8. Cognos
  9. Business Objects
  10. Oracle

The vendors were each scored on the basis of Value, Reliability and Loyalty. One interesting miss is SAP, and Oracle also fell quite a bit this year due to low Value scores.

This was the first year for Salesforce.com to be in the top-10 list, marking the first software-as-a-service entry and showing how SaaS use is becoming mainstream even in the enterprise market.

Software Magazine also last month published their list of the top 500 business software vendors by revenue. These were my key takeaways:

  • IBM, Microsoft and EDS were the top three companies by total software revenue, same as 2007.
  • Two of the top three revenue growth leaders were Indian IT outsourcing/system integration services firms: Wipro Ltd. and Tata Consultancy.
  • The largest individual business sector was software integration services/IT consulting (42 companies out of the top 500, compared to 29 in 2007).
  • Other growing sectors were enterprise integration, storage management, vertical applications, learning and outsourcing.

So what does it take to win with enterprise software?

Well, clearly keeping a strong focus on the customer needs is key – whether that is through consulting services (integration, outsourcing or customization), a targeted vertical industry approach, or just having a crystal clear picture of who your customer is and what they need to do with your software.

Also, innovation clearly still drives the software industry: witness the growth of software-as-a-service vendors in the lists, high levels of R&D spending among many in the Software 500, etc.

What will 2009 hold?

In the current economic climate, software that shows Value (easy on the budget) and demonstrable Short-Term ROI will come out ahead. But a number of the growth sectors from 2008 should also be interesting: integration, outsourcing, virtualization among those.

Want to learn more about how to improve your enterprise software sales? Check out this article on how changing software sales cycles could be impacting your business, or take a look at this article on how to influence the B2B technology buyer.

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