I've been hearing this week through the grapevine that software companies, including Ariba and Emptoris, had a challenging time closing deals at the end of the second quarter, but I haven't wanted to pull the trigger on saying anything about it.
Just now, though, I got a copy of one of David Dobrin's newsletters.
Do you know David? He is one of the saltiest analysts in the market and one of the least likely to fall for any spin. If you stop by Harvard Square at some-point (that shopping mall in the middle of Cambridge) it’s worth dropping him a line and seeking him out. He knows enterprise software like few others, going deep and broad. If you’re a financial analyst, software organization or end-user looking for particular enterprise apps expertise that is not overly slanted by vendor-speak and vendor-dollars (especially big vendor dollars), seek out David immediately. Don’t pass go. Don’t pay $200 in maintenance. And don’t fall for latest spin.
I can't say exactly what David mentioned in his newsletter -- that's only for subscribers -- but it confirms the rumors that I heard this week regarding the challenges vendors are having and some of the sales-related staffing decisions they're making as a result. And David's confirmation is good enough for me to say something at this time (I've not known him to be wrong in the past on these things.)
There are points where we disagree. David thinks the news might might signal a slowing of the Spend Management market; I think it will see moderate to healthy growth throughout the year. But both of us do agree on what the underlying problem is: vendors are failing to close deals when expected because customers are forcing longer and longer sales cycles. Even after approval, I’ve heard that it’s often taking weeks -- sometimes months -- to get ink. Every deal is getting scrutinized by finance, and in some cases, companies are waiting until the following quarter to commit (based on their own quarterly results).
If you want to hear a bit more from David, without subscribing to his service, check out his blog.