Quick thought: Uncertainty dominates enterprise software market

City of Las Vegas

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So I figure I’d write a quick post this morning while I wait to catch my connecting flight home. This is also my first post via the iPhone WordPress application, so it’s somewhat of a test from this device.

This week I was at the SSPA trade show in Las Vegas, and it was the quietest I’ve ever seen a major industry event. I don’t have actual numbers, but it seemed like attendance was down. I’m sure some of this reflects general economic softness, but I also think that the dramatic gyrations in the financial markets must have led to last minute cancellations. Either way, if this one data point reflects the level of activity in the overall market, then enterprise software is about to face the biggest slowdowns since the beginning of this decade…at least from a new license perspective.

The week before, Consona had their annual user meeting, also in Las Vegas. While attendance was down, the existing user base in both the CRM and ERP divisions seemed to be energized.

If the two events reflect any larger trend, those enterprise software companies that have a business model that is built on new license sales are in for some very choppy waters…

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Off to India…

It’s been nearly two years since I last visited India [an unusually long gap for me], and seven years since I last spent an entire month there. That is what I plan to do this time, spend the entire month of October in India. My calendar is already filling up with more meetings and travel than a typical work month in the US. Besides for the obligatory visits with relatives, I’ll be attending a course on Venture Capital at the Indian School of Business. Hyderabad based ISB has emerged as India’s world class business school, on par with the top management institutes in the United States and Europe. I know most people would never think of taking a class at a business school while on vacation, but I’m really looking forward to this. It should be fun.

I’ll also be visiting as many startups and early stage companies as possible during this trip. A lot of people would argue that India is in the middle of an economic bubble on the magnitude of the American internet bubble of a decade ago. While that may be true on a certain level, there is a fundamental change underway, led by the rise of the entrepreneurial sprit amongst India’s youngest citizens. These are the people who see the possibilities of the future, and aren’t beholden by the caustic Nehruvian Socialism that plagued India for half a century [Could anyone have imagined taking a course on Venture Capital in India a decade ago?!]. India is changing at an elemental level, and the best way to see that is to observe the real elements of change first hand.

We are also exploring the possibility of moving to India. It has been a long term plan for us, and the timing seems right to seriously consider a move. This will certainly add an additional wrinkle to the trip.

I’ll be blogging extensively throughout the trip, and if I get gallery module to work correctly on WordPress, uploading tons of pictures of the adventure.

…stay tuned…

FedEx dumps Airbus A380, flocks to Boeing

It’s hard to imagine a worse collapse of confidence in product delivery than the one that Airbus is experiencing lately. Not only has its white elephant A380 been delayed numerous times, forcing huge management restructuring, but now major aircraft buyers are canceling their orders and shifting their buying power to Boeing. FedEx is the 1st major that I’ve seen, but I’m sure there will be more:

The world’s largest express transportation company cited Airbus’ production delays and said in a statement that its FedEx Express unit has ordered 15 Boeing Co. 777 freighters with a list price of $3.5 billion and taken options on an additional 15.

Source: FedEx drops A380 order, buys Boeing 777s – Yahoo! News

Being a frequent traveler, I’ve been a big fan of the 777, from a passenger perspective. It seems to be the right size for a jumbo – not too many people crammed in, and the ability to travel great distances with reasonable luxury. Earlier this month Boeing announced a modified 777 that would be capable of traveling from any one point on earth to another point on earth non-stop. I suspect this makes it even more attractive for FedEx, reduced stops leads to greater efficiencies.

From a passenger perspective, last year I took an American Airlines 777 non-stop from Chicago O’Hare to New Delhi. Just a few years ago that would have been unimaginable, but the 777 (and some changes in overflight laws across the former Soviet Union) have made it a reality. While spending 15+ in flight is not something I look forward to, being able to ‘jump’ from the US to India in one shot is unbelievably convenient. I’m sure the FecEx pilots that move cargo all around the world will prefer this approach as well.

The airline sector in India is booming


Boeing announced two major deals with huge implications for the Indian economy and airline sector.  The company will invest over $175 million in repair and training facilities, and will source almost $2 billion worth of products and services from India.  In addition to this huge deal, the company also announced that it had closed a deal with the state run Air India for delivery of up to 68 planes over the coming years, valued at $6.9 billion. Link.

In India, 2005 was clearly the year of the domestic air traveler.  It looks like 2006 will become the year of the international traveler from India.  With the introduction of international routes by Jet Airways (and others), Air-India finally was forced to upgrade its over-worked, aging fleet.  This is great news for everyone, even Jet.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding the Indian airline market.  Beside for this hefty order, rumors have been flying about an impending merger between India’s two largest private carriers Jet Airways and Air Sahara.  Jet already controls more than half of the domestic air market, and this merger would solidify Jet’s place as the primary competitor for the state run airlines, domestic and international.  The state run domestic carrier Indian Airlines has announced a facelift of sorts, shifting its look to a updated logo and name to just “Indian”.  In recent years, I-A’s share of domestic traffic has shrunk to below 30%.

Mainstream migration of Podcasts


Steve Rubel, over at Micro Persuasion, makes a brief mention of new podcast downloads at Fidelity Investments’ Registered Investment Advisor Group.  While not in the true podcast spirit (To access the actual audio, you have to go through a registration process), the fact that Fidelity is offering this service is worth noting.

I think we’re just beginning to see this type of audio-on-demand ‘brochure-ware.’  As more and more people bring podcasts (and vodcast – videocasts) into their daily lives, the medium will serve as a powerful replacement (possibly enhancement) to mass marketing vehicles like brochures and radio advertising.

Venture Capital investing and Wal-Mart

 It’s hard to imagine Wal-Mart as anything but a clearing-house for goods made in China, India, and other developing countries.  The retailer, however, has recently partnered with Aldus Equity Partners to build a small, but interesting venture capital fund.  Since Wal-Mart is only investing a paltry $25 million in the fund, the real question is why Wal-Mart would even waste time and effort to move in this direction?  Well, the fund is aimed at investing in small women and minority owned businesses, and Fortune believes the idea is to placate diversity advocates who have been a drag on the Wal-Mart image of late. Continue reading “Venture Capital investing and Wal-Mart”

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

Charlie Brown

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I know, I know, everything about Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts has been commercialized already. In fact, Charles Schultz built an empire on the proceeds of Peanuts licensing. So, it should come as no real surprise that Ford bought rights to use the Peanuts theme song (known as Linus and Lucy) for the company’s latest television ad campaign, right? I mean, MetLife, the huge monolithic insurance company, has been using Snoopy literally as a part of the company logo for years now. What can be worse than an insurance company personifying itself with the use of America’s most beloved cartoon dog? Continue reading “Good Grief, Charlie Brown!”

Thanksgiving time again!

This Thanksgiving is sizing up to be a real disappointment to the naysayers out there. Despite higher fuel costs, bankrupt airlines, and a perceived general malaise amongst the public, the AAA has once again predicted a banner Thanksgiving travel holiday. I guess there isn’t much that will prevent Americans from cruising out of town to enjoy the four days full of feasting, football, and fun!

Have a great Thanksgiving!