Financial crisis: The tech innovations at risk

Financial crisis: The tech innovations at risk

Analytics, SOA, storage networking, and cloud computing providers face huge fallouts as financial customers wither

Beyond BI and risk analytics, vendors active in such diverse fields as SOA, SANs, and cloud computing can also expect to feel at least some of the effects of a collapsed financial services industry.

SOA infrastructure, for instance, is widely used by financial services firms for transaction integrity and scalability. Therefore, SOA vendors who targeted financial services firms can expect to experience many of the same customer pullback and revenue issues as their BI and risk analytic counterparts. On the other hand, since financial services firms didn't play as big a role in driving SOA innovation as they did in the BI and analytics markets, enterprise customers shouldn't see any serious impact on long-term product development.

The same calculation generally holds true for the SAN market, says Mehra, where vendors over the years sold financial services firms an impressive number of systems for managing and protecting vast data repositories. But, as is the case with SOA vendors, SAN innovation isn't heavily dependent on financial services firms, so the damage shouldn't significantly extend beyond vendors' bottom lines, he notes.

For cloud computing vendors, however, the outlook appears somewhat darker. In fact, next to BI and risk analytics, cloud computing vendors may stand to lose the most from an eroded financial services market. Forrester's Bartels notes that some financial services firms led the way in using cloud computing's vast resources to test novel investment strategies and alternative model scenarios. "Not much of that is going to be happening for financial institutions in the near future," he says. The good news is that cloud computing is a nascent market with relatively few enterprise adopters heavily involved in the technology. As a result, any negative impact should be muted and limited mostly to the vendors' revenue streams.

Small vendors are the most at risk

Financial Insights' Capachin says that across all categories the biggest vendor losers will be the small, innovative firms that have "sold well into the capital markets industry." For at least some of these firms, the loss of one or more key customers could mark the end of the road as a viable business. "If it were me, I'd check with my vendors to see their exposure to the financial industry," she says.

"I just think it's going to be a tough market anyways for tech spending, but in particular if you're not a well-capitalized, well-known firm," she says. For survival, many smaller vendors will likely find themselves driven into partnerships with bigger players, Capachin says.

Conversely, while some small innovators with specialized products and a narrow market focus may be devastated by the meltdown, diversification and economies of scale should help larger vendors like IBM and Sun Microsystems withstand the collapse with only minimal damage. "IBM, for example, says that 29 percent of its revenue comes from financial services -- but only 6 percent of that comes out of the US," Bartels says. Sales in Europe -- whose financial firms have also been hit by the financial crisis -- adds another 5 percent. "So they're going to feel some pain, but it's only a small part of their overall business."

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