The Year in Review in Software & Services

What were the top professional services and application software stories of 2009? Here are my votes for the top 10.
Written by Brian Sommer, Contributor

2009 had some interesting twists to it as far as the software and services industries go.

Here are top five services stories of 2009.

1) The breakup of BearingPoint – BearingPoint had some big bills to pay this year. When the time came to do so, they couldn’t. The company began the process of selling off parts of itself and now little of what once was BearingPoint still carries that name.

2) Satyam – This was a fairly shocking fraud story. The founder of the company confessed to a number of problems that eventually resulted in the company being acquired. Unfortunately, a lot of employees (and maybe some clients) got burned in the process but jail terms are likely for some of the Satyam executives.

3) Tiger Woods and Accenture go splitsville – Tiger Woods was the ‘high performance’ gold standard used by Accenture in its advertising for years. In a matter of weeks, Tiger has lost the Accenture endorsement amid some startling claims others have made about his love life.

4) Layoffs – Layoffs were big news. Accenture, IBM and other service firms axed/rightsized their headcount to meet the requirements of a down economy.

5) H-1B – This visa is much desired by many non-Americans yet this year we saw legislation being proposed, new enforcement actions by the US government and a massive decline in applications for these visas.

In software, there was no shortage of stories here. But these were more thematic and not tied to specific firms.

1) SaaS – There were loads of stories about software as a service. Almost every vendor (and there were 200+ of them) at a major HR show was offering SaaS products. Salesforce.com and NetSuite made a lot of noise with their Platform-As-A-Service offerings.

2) PPM – Vendors in the PPM (Project Portfolio Management) and PSA (professional services automation) spaces saw a flurry of innovation and acquisitions. Some really strong financial enhancements to the PPM products were particularly noteworthy. CA, Planview and others had big announcements. NetSuite’s OpenAir group acquired QuickArrow.

3) On-Premise ERP – On-premise ERP vendors had a really boring year especially when it came to innovation. That didn’t stop a lot of writers discussing the lack of value delivered, the slow pace of new functional enhancements, etc. 2009 marks another year where we’re still waiting for a big Fusion release.

4) Technology Vendors and the Cloud – Most major hardware and systems management vendors found the cloud this year. New systems management tools came out with integrators, outsourcers and hardware providers coming up with a large number of tools, solutions, etc. to help CIOs get applications up on the cloud.

5) Software Maintenance Margins – In 2009, everyone found out that software vendors make 90% margins on the software maintenance fees they collect from customers. Now that everyone knows this, will 2010 be the year where vendors face much more defiant customers over these charges?

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