If you listen to Thomas Siebel, the worst has yet to come for business-to-business software vendors. "On the B2B exchange side, I dont think anyone will survive. They are all gone," the chairman and CEO of customer relationship management software vendor Siebel Systems Inc. said at Forrester Research Inc.s B2B Technology Leadership Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz., last week.
But, Siebel added, the resulting consolidation will be a good thing for customers and surviving B2B software developers.
Siebels dire predictions came on the same day that B2B software stalwarts Ariba Inc. and i2 Technologies Inc. warned of lower-than-expected earnings and widespread layoffs. When questioned about the earnings outlook for Siebel Systems, of San Mateo, Calif., Siebel declined to comment.
Siebel specifically cited B2B e-marketplaces and application service providers as the types of B2B companies that will be hardest hit by what he called the "global economic recession."
Technology vendors can no longer count on customers giving them the benefit of the doubt and dabbling in a new technology investment just because of Internet hype, Siebel warned.
That transformation, in the long term, he said, will help rather than hurt the technology sector, and companies that deliver products with the most value to customers-not the most hype-and those that concentrate on customer satisfaction are most likely to survive as customers become highly selective.
Vendors will consolidate, helping customers better wade through what has become an overwhelming number of software options, Siebel said.
"When we emerge out of this next shift, the world will be a saner place," Siebel said. But for now, he added, "you really need to look carefully as you plan whom your partners are going forward."