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Things Are Looking Up

Things Are Looking Up

I have been disappointed by the last few Sybase conferences. Overall they were fine, but Sybase didn't successfully use them to alleviate fears that the company was in decline. The stock price was down, analysts and press were negative, Sybase's vision was a mystery and phantom marketing was successfully keeping the Sybase products hidden from the market.

Nashville in '97, LA in '98, Orlando in '99...we saw a steady decline in the quantity of vendors as well as the waning interest of industry press and analysts. At its worst, last year's press day was canceled without reason. I think it was because so few press and analysts showed up that Sybase was embarrassed by the low turnout.

Things are looking up. At TechWave 2000 there were so many press and analysts that it was standing room only at the press events. I counted over 50 people, and they were a very international crowd: Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Czech, Australian. The only continent not represented was the Antarctic. There was not only good geographic representation, but also industry-wide representation. All the big industry magazines and analysis companies sent representatives.

The press turnout showed that Sybase is once again attracting the attention of the industry. This time it isn't for their database and front-end development tools, but rather for their new initiatives in mobile and wireless, portals and vertical markets. And the recent surge in stock price.

John Chen, Sybase's CEO, stated that "Sybase is now being recognized as a global leader of powerful, reliable, real-world e-business solutions." That seems to be supported by the press turnout. He also said that Sybase has three new focus areas:

  • Enterprise portal: Their e-Portal product is the first to market, and is receiving popular acceptance from a broad range of industries.
  • Mobile and wireless: This is a market that Sybase has dominated through its infancy. Sybase is in a great position to capture billions of dollars in this market as it grows from an estimated $20 billion in 2000 to an anticipated $80 billion in 2003. Analysts say that over the next five years over 80% of corporate applications are expected to be designed for non-PC, wireless Internet devices.
  • Vertical solutions: Sybase has ruled the financial industry and been the clear market leader in telecommunications and health care. They will continue to dominate these industries while broadening their offerings and spreading into other markets. The Internet banking and trading arena is projected to have a 350% compound annual growth rate until 2002, when one-third of the world's population will be banking online. The e-business market will exceed $15 billion by 2002, according to market analysts.
Sybase forecasts annual revenue growth to be 10% for the next three to five years. Tool and database licensing is expected to be flat; most of the growth will come from the three areas listed above. Sybase also recognizes the market potential as China opens up to Western technology. The presence of several Chinese at the press conferences showed that Sybase is getting publicity there. Strategic partnerships with key companies in Asia, Australia and New Zealand underscore Sybase's commitment to expand into those markets.

The press Q&A, interviews and addresses by Sybase management to the TechWave attendees provided a wealth of information on the future directions of Sybase. For more information on Sybase directions as well as on TechWave 2000, see the TechWave review in this issue.

After all is said and done, I think things are looking up for Sybase and I plan on continuing to use, support and promote their products.

More Stories By John Olson

John D. Olson is a principal of Developower, Inc., a consulting company specializing in software solutions using Sybase development tools. A CPD Professional and charter member of TeamSybase, he is co-editor and author of two PB9 books, and the recipient of the ISUG Innovation and Achievement Award for 2003.

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