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November 17, 2010

Empty vessels and the mortal peril Ballmer, HP, SAP and Google are, apparently, in

Some of the biggest names in tech are in the firing line of one of the lesser-known analyst houses. Gary Flood looks at Nucleus Research's 2011 predictions

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What’s that phrase about the squeaky wheel being the one that gets the most attention? That came to mind when we checked out the rather hairy-chested set of 2011 predictions from one of the lesser-known ICT industry analyst groups this week – Nucleus Research.

To get attention – a ploy we have of course fallen for, as we’ve chosen to comment on the stuff in this forum – it’s puffed out its chest and said some quite provocative things, especially about our friends at Microsoft, SAP and HP. Oh, and it thinks social media is rubbish, too, by the way.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Let’s get to the meanest bits first, though. First off, it’s time for Microsoft head Steve Ballmer to pack his personal effects and leave the building. "Microsoft is at a turning point: the company needs an inspiring visionary or a tactical general or both — and Ballmer is neither." Why? Even though some parts of the company continue to perform well, "they’re tarnished, not aided by corporate missteps and a visionary vacuum". Ballmer is no Bill Gates, not cutting it as either a technology leader or a market-shaker.

Ouch. There’s more. SAP is doddering, with "business intelligence (from the Business Objects acquisition) the feeding tube keeping the old man alive" and the firm running serious risk of customers defecting as they "contemplate costly upgrades or inflexible maintenance"; while its competitors "consolidate to be more agile," SAP has "no new generation to offer," it warns.

HP boss Leo Apotheker

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Must be time to beat up – HP! "With its real strengths in hardware and especially printers, Hewlett-Packard needs to get beyond boardroom scuffles and define what it is in the modern software world. Time will tell if HP can establish a new direction in 2011," it growls. This research group is also less than convinced its new head, former SAP leader Leo Apotheker, is "the man to bring HP back to greatness". (This last snipe is based on some comment about those who know him not being that convinced, apparently. Oh, ok.)

Having finished off all in line of sight in the grown up enterprise ICT world, who’s left to have a go at? But of course; the company whose name rhymes with, er, ‘oogle’. "Beyond search (where Microsoft is encroaching), Google is in trouble," hampered, by "an attention span [that] can’t make it through a product roadmap". Decision makers can’t and won’t wait around for it to "grow up," it snaps.

Blimey. So who does Nucleus like? It htnered up with Oracle or IBM should look quickly to do so, or they may find themselves without customers when the dance is over".

Oracle head Larry Ellison

We’re sure that not all of this is meant 100% tongue not in cheek – and there are some valid, or at least debatable, points in all this. Still, there’s a fine line between bluster and proper argument and we’re not sure Nucleus has got that one locked down.

Does that make us fuddy duddy old Brits? Happy so to be. We like stimulating opinion at CBR but we hate posturing for the sake of it. As, we suspect, do you.

Go here if you’d like to read the predictions in full and make up your own mind.

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