If you live north of the equator (are the words "north vs. south" politically incorrect like "right vs. left" are?), this is the season of growth. Depending on how far north you live, either get your tomato plants in this week or hold off because of the chance of one more frost. Turning the map upside down, I guess this is the time to clean up leaves, prune back growth and turn over the gardens (although I don't see enough land mass -- vs. ocean -- far enough south looking at the map this way to make such activity a major task).
But for the enterprise software analyst, this is announcement season. There is no time to either sow or reap.
- IBM is running its major WebSphere event May 3-8 and will be announcing products and services in SOA and business process management (BPM).
- The Americas version of SAP's Sapphire user group meeting runs May 11-14.
- The masters of marketing at Oracle - despite the fact that May is its big "end of the year" sales month - will counter-announce something for sure, just to hold down the competitive noise level.
- The leading enterprise-software supplier, Microsoft, averages a couple of press releases per day no matter the season.
Astute marketeers at smaller enterprise-software suppliers (the four mentioned above account for 40 percent of all enterprise software spending) will tag along. The timid will hold off, afraid of being lost in the ether of the blogosphere (it's good advice to hold off unless you have something to say; press releases about how your enterprise software supports "green-ness" are especially tiring).
So the messages will go something like this:
- We have the software for hard economic times.
- We protect your investment better than the other guy.
- You can do more with less (people, servers, square footage, you name it) than the other guys' software.
It will not matter what the actual product, service, feature or function being announced does.
The message is the key, not the functionality, but the functionalities you're going to hear about are cloud computing, virtualization and BPM. Expect the cloud to be mentioned prominently (I'm doing that too over at ebizQ). If you're in the market, distinguish between private and public clouds. Look to see if the enterprise software you are considering was built to take advantage of cloud architectural features.
You can't avoid a virtualization announcement or two. If you're in the market, figure out whether you want memory/storage, server, desktop or application virtualization. All virtualization software is not created equal.
BPM - or simply process management if the supplier is talking about managing IT - is the application buzzword of the year. If you're in the market, consider whether you want workflow, straight-through processing, case management or a hybrid of all three. Is your process flow data- or event-driven? (And is it likely to remain so?)
So get into enterprise software announcement season. Or just sit back and smell the grass growing (or leaves burning).