Conversely, while some small innovators with specialized products and a narrow market focus may be devastated by the meltdown, diversification and economies of scale should help larger vendors like IBM and Sun Microsystems withstand the collapse with only minimal damage. "IBM, for example, says that 29 percent of its revenue comes from financial services -- but only 6 percent of that comes out of the U.S.," Bartels says. Sales in Europe -- whose financial firms have also been hit by the financial crisis -- adds another 5 percent. "So they're going to feel some pain, but it's only a small part of their overall business."
Life after death: Integration, compliance opportunities abound
Given the severity of the current crisis, it's comforting to know that there may actually be a faint silver lining on the horizon. As the financial services industry enters a new and -- in all likelihood -- very much downsized era, several fresh opportunities could arrive to benefit at least some vendors and their enterprise customers.
As banks and other institutions swallow each other up, industry consolidation may itself open new doors. "The need for integration software will be very high, because a lot of these [financial services] companies will want to change their business models," Keane's Mehra says. This trend could help spur the development of better integration software, leading to products and services designed to help merging businesses in industries beyond financial services.
Vendors with productivity-enhancing and cost-cutting technologies may also prosper. In the foreseeable future, sellers in a wide array of tech sectors -- everything from call center automation to virtual meetings to environmental controls -- should be able to take advantage of a financial services industry driven by a need to ruthlessly slash expenses. "A vendor that sells software to help cut or reduce IT cost may still be in a good position," Bartels says. Furthermore, many of these solutions will likely appeal to a broad spectrum of enterprise customers.
Mehra expects that increased government oversight will power a growing market for compliance applications in the financial services industry, just as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act did several years ago for a variety of enterprises affected by the corporate corruption scandals. "I think business intelligence will start to benefit right away because, from a regulatory standpoint, [there will be a need for] more transparency of information," he says. As a result, better and easier-to-use compliance tools could eventually become available to all enterprises.