Innovation World: Karl-Heinz Streibich

First up after lunch at the Media and Analyst Forum was Karl-Heinz Streibich, CEO of Software AG. This is better attended than this morning’s session (which was marked “optional” on my schedule, and likely on that of many others), and we’re hearing from the more senior people in this session.

It’s impossible for any business leader not to talk about the financial crisis in a presentation these days, and Streibich’s focus is on Software AG’s path to SOA leadership beyond the current crisis. 20% of Software AG employees are in the US, which means a potential big hit in licensing and services revenue for them, but he’s bullish on their strategy. He said “the United States is the most important market in the world to Software AG” (I find it amazing that he would single it out like this, since there are critical emerging markets in China and India, as well as the collective EU market), and pointed out that Software AG is now the 3rd largest SOA/BPM vendor after IBM and Oracle. He quoted the projected growth numbers — I think that they’re Forrester’s — that shows the current market of $1.4B growing at around 14% per year to $2.3B by 2012: optimistic figures from last year that I think no longer hold true in the current market as the purse strings tighten around the globe, especially in that “most important market”.

However, Streibich believes that Software AG is relatively immune to the turmoil because of their ADABAS/Natural product line and the strength of the webMethods product suite, and that they will improve their market share. Interestingly, although the ADABAS/Natural products aren’t BPM/SOA, it does provide them with a steady flow of revenue since mainframe modernization projects do well during an economic downturn (when it’s too expensive to rip and replace). If anything, he thinks that the financial crisis will add urgency to BPM/SOA adoption; I agree with this, but don’t think that it necessarily lead to a lot of new sales for the vendors. Software AG has a range of tools, however, to help organizations most from siloed IT to SOA.

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