But all of this unstructured data could also be a huge opportunity for other, non-traditional ERP players to move into the market. For example, the unstructured data market is virtually owned and operated by Google. What about a Google play in the business applications space? At the Gartner IT Symposium 2009, CEO Eric Schmidt made no secret of the fact that Google has designs on the enterprise market space. Schmidt thought that the enterprise business for Google can be a multibillion dollar one -- terming it "humongous." The 11-year-old company has its sights set on Microsoft; it has recently made its hosted Google Apps suite more enticing to large government users by announcing plans to tailor its cloud computing services for various federal agencies, according to a Computerworld.com article. Google Wave has taken dead aim at the collaborative apps space (hello, Microsoft Sharepoint), and Android is going after the mobile space by extending the enterprise into portable devices. Still, for many CIOs, at least now, Microsoft is the devil you know, rather than the one you don't.
Jon Reed, an independent analyst, SAP Mentor, and blogger at JonERP.com, has trouble envisioning Google building an ERP suite or acquiring an ERP company -- "that's extreme," he says. However, "if a Google type of company can present a way of pulling together all this unstructured information in a cloud-based environment, and then somehow connect that to a structured platform -- uniting the unstructured and structured information -- then that's a big, big thing," Reed says. "Think how pathetic these big companies are right now. They have no visibility into that."
Adds Accenture's Hayes: "We will we look back five years from now, and realize that the unstructured data [issue] was another disruptive force that will have to be reckoned with."
The future of the supervendors
Behold the supervendors! It sounds like something out of a Transformers movie -- there's OptimusOracle, IBM-Bot, MicroScream and MegaSAP. (Don't ask whose "side" they're on.)
High-tech juggernauts Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle, and HP (collectively known as "MISOH") have reshaped the enterprise software industry with bold, strategic, and expensive acquisitions that have led to massive consolidation. As a Forrester Research figure shows, in the ERP space, SAP and Oracle outpace the other vendors.
Oracle, in particular, has never shied away from making a splashy purchase (leading one financial industry observer to call Oracle the New York Yankees of the enterprise software industry). With $8.8 billion in cash on hand and "good deals" still to be had, one can expect Larry Ellison & Co. to make more shrewd acquisitions.