4 Driving Forces That Will Shape The Tech Market In 2011 And Beyond

1. Technology Designed for Everyone

The technology world enlarged in 2010. Consumers fell in love with the intuitive user interfaces and versatile technologies of the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google. “I love it” is how most users describe their iPad or iPhone. Now consumers want their enterprise applications to offer a similar user-oriented experience.

Consumers want to use technology to connect and collaborate with others. No wonder social networking and mobility is such a compelling combination for businesses and end users alike. Facebook’s mobile users spend twice the amount of time on Facebook than do non-mobile users. This trend is set to accelerate. Hence SAP acquired Sybase for its mobile apps platform, rather than its database technology.

Traditional consumer brands such as Sony (Vaio) and Samsung (Galaxy) and Amazon (Kindle and EC2) sense there is more money to be made in Tech. As do a vibrant new group of entrepreneurs who have developed well over a million consumer apps on various platforms. There are no barriers or caveats to entering the software market anymore.

2. Making Technology Easy to Consume

How do you turn 5 keystrokes into 3? How do you make software that is immediately intuitive and makes obvious sense to users? Can you eradicate training courses and user manuals? Some enterprise software user interfaces look like a flight pilot’s cockpit instrument panel.

Steve Jobs, the Tech industry’s top CEO, loves a clean design and simplicity for Apple’s users. The iPod has 5 keys; the more modern iPad has 3. Jobs launched the iPhone 3G using only 11 presentation slides, only one of which contained any words. BBC Radio 4 recently praised Apple’s use of clear, plain English in its product descriptions, in contrast to Microsoft’s “techno-babble” that can alienate potential customers.

Facebook starts product development from the premise ‘how does this product enable users to communicate and collaborate?’ Features and functions become outputs rather than inputs when viewed in this manner.

3. Getting the Price Point Down

High price is the last great bastion of the technology industry. But now many vendors offer similar ranges of products to address similar markets; the key decision-making criteria has become availability, brand, and most importantly, price—especially as vendor pricing is increasingly transparent and available on the Internet. There are now many options open to vendors who want to offer more customer value and encourage product trial.

BI vendors such as QlikTech, Tableau, TIBCO Spotfire, and MicroStrategy offer generous free trial product downloads. Open Source vendors such as Jaspersoft, Pentaho and SugarCRM offer free entry-level products. Spiceworks’ network management software is free if you are prepared to accept the advertisements that come with it. Many excellent applications, such as Google Analytics for example, are totally free of charge. Virtually every kind of software platform, application and service is available for rent as a SaaS service in the Cloud.

4. Be different

Competition from now on will be intense and hostile. Recent aggressive moves from industry titans such as HP, IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft set the tone. Product innovations are easy to copy and vendors are now stepping on each others’ toes. To insulate themselves against this trend the top Tech companies have transformed themselves into brands. They hope to encourage a sense of community and belonging, customer loyalty and advocacy, and a feeling that customers cannot do without them.

Brand Finance now rates Apple, Microsoft and IBM as 3 of the most valuable ($) 5 brands on earth—ahead of Coke, Mars, Persil and all the other household names. Six of the Top 20 valued brands are from the Tech industry. The thought-leadership, business model innovations and brand distinctiveness that characterise these vendors are now becoming essential pre-requisites for success in Tech.

Those that are truly market-oriented and customer-centric will thrive. Those that remain product-led will find it increasingly hard to attract new customers. Business agility will be key to vendor survival. ‘Be fast and be bold’ as Facebook says. Vendors, customers and users should endeavour to embrace this dictum.

If there are vendors or others who want advice in any of the above, drop me a comment in the box below and I will be glad to help. It is Xmas after all ;-) And a happy New Year to all our readers!

Gerry Brown is an analyst (BI and CRM/Digital Marketing) at Bloor Research. Gerry has 25 years of experience in the software and services industry, and has worked in senior marketing and sales management positions for Xerox, Fujitsu Services, Hyperion and MicroStrategy. He was Marketing Director at Hyperion Solutions and Head of Marketing at MicroStrategy. Gerry is also a visiting lecturer for the London School of Marketing and lectures at top academic institutions such as Imperial College and Birkbeck College. He lectures in Strategic Marketing, Analysis and Evaluation, Managing Marketing Performance, and Strategic Marketing in Practice on the Professional Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing course. Gerry is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM), has a DipM (the equivalent of an MA) in Marketing, and received his BA (Hons) Business Studies degree from Sheffield City University. Gerry regularly presents on behalf of Bloor Research at international business conferences, roundtable discussions, user group meetings, vendor seminars, and Webinars and Podcasts.