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January 01, 2011

10 Tech Companies to Watch

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 2011 issue of InfoTECH SPOTLIGHT.

Not terribly surprising given the slumped economy, in 2010 we saw the rise of cloud computing, virtualization and social media. A great competitive equalizer, cloud computing provides immediate access to resources, saves time and money in developing new services and, more and more, addresses infrastructure, platform and software needs.

In fact, cloud-based and software as a service (SaaS) delivery continue to be key adoption factors, and of the more than 80 vendors that Gartner tracks for this marketplace; more than 50 provide social software through cloud-based and SaaS delivery. Cloud-based and SaaS models have many potential advantages for social software deployments as buyers of these services tend to be business executives with specific marketing, R&D or HR budgets, the research says.

Many of our “Companies to Watch” are paving the way for a revitalized 2011, and with the continuing uptick in cloud computing investments to save organizations big dollars over the long-term, many are posed for growth in the New Year. As Forrester’s (News - Alert) Andrew Bartels confirms, the researcher is predicting the U.S. tech industry will grow about twice as fast as nominal GDP in 2011, at 7.4 percent, as investments in cloud and smart computing solutions provide the IT tools for companies to grow profits despite weak revenue increases.

Acer

CEO: Gianfranco Lanci

www.acer.com

U.S. Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

Steve Jobs: Watch out. Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci promises to beat out Apple’s tablet in the next few years.

Research firms Gartner and IDC agree that Apple has now several hundred thousand units more than Acer, its nearest competitor, as the latter has been experienced only flat sales compared to the same period of last year. However, Acer’s Lanci said that his company aimed to overtake Apple in tablets in the next two or three years. His estimation is for Acer to have 10 to 20 percent of the category in a short time after launch and later on to take the lead from Apple’s tablet. The Taiwanese manufacturer is offering three new tablet PCs as well as the Iconica, a tablet-style computer with two screens. Tablet devices are notable for their user interfaces, which focus on touch displays operated with fingers. Acer announced the Windows tablet for February 2011, while the Android devices will be available starting in April 2011.

The latest data distributed by the analyst firm Context, show a growing trend of the LCD display market in EMEA Region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) during Q3 2010 after a fall during Q2. According to the analysis, the third quarter of 2010 the display market recorded a 13.4 percent QoQ growth. In this scenario, Acer confirmed the third place in the EMEA ranking, with a 13.1 percent market share and outperformed the market recording a 42.3 percent growth (Q310 vs. Q210).

Apple

CEO: Steve Jobs

www.apple.com

U.S. Headquarters: Cupertino, Calif.

Research in Motion’s (News - Alert) rival announced its latest revenues of $20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion. Apple sold 3.89 million Macs, 14.1 million iPhones, 9.05 million iPods, and 4.19 million iPads during the quarter making enormous growth from last year’s Q4. During the earnings announcement, CEO Steve Jobs made a dig a RIM, saying “iPhone sales of 14.1 million were up 91 percent year-over-year, handily beating the 12.1 million phones RIM sold in their most recent quarter. We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year.”

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, said looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2011, “we expect revenue of about $23 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $4.80.” Oppenheimer and Jobs particularly mentioned how well the company benefited from international sales noting that it “accounted for 57 percent of the quarter’s revenue.” The sale of iPhones increased 91 percent over Q4 of last year, but, perhaps not so surprisingly, the sale of iPods decreased by 11 percent.

Apple analysts upped their estimates for the company’s first fiscal quarter significantly: revenues raised by $1.12 billion, iPad sales by 1.27 million units, iPhone sales by 1.05 million units and Mac sales by 290,000 units.

Cognizant

CEO: Francisco D’Souza

www.cognizant.com

U.S. Headquarters: Teaneck, N.J.

The technology and business process outsourcing provider reached a key milestone in late 2010: The company grew to 100,000 employees (from 175 employees in 1994). Of its 500-plus clients spanning five continents and every major industry, the Teaneck, N.J.-based firm provides an advanced global delivery platform, Cognizant 2.0 (C2), which helps businesses share knowledge and manage projects across its global delivery network. In the last quarter of 2010, shares of Cognizant Technology Solutions crossed bullishly above its 10-day moving average of $66.62 on volume of 1 million shares. 

Charting its course in reaching the millennial generation, in October 2010, Cognizant partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to launch the Center for the Future of Work, an interdisciplinary research center that has been established at Carnegie Mellon’s H. John Heinz III College. It will focus on technological and social systems that will enable next-generation organizations, with a focus on virtualized or distributed work environments.

Hewlett-Packard

CEO: Leo Apotheker

www.hp.com

U.S. Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.

HP’s latest quarterly results confirmed key trends in the industry, highlighted by a strengthening corporate market, and a softening consumer space.  The technology frontrunner is indeed becoming more diverse: One example is the expansion of its networking division. In 2010, HP introduced the first Converged Infrastructure training and certification program that spans the entire enterprise landscape – from networking, storage, servers and software to printing and personal computing.

And HP’s new CEO, Leo Apotheker, who replaced the embattled Mark Hurd (who shockingly went on to Oracle), appears to be leveraging his European connections, expanding the company’s presence overseas. The firm secured a $1.4 billion contract to provide a range of tech services to E.ON IT, the technology operations arm of German utilities giant E.ON AG.

Motorola Mobility/Motorola Solutions

Co-CEOs: Greg Brown (News - Alert), Dr. Sanjay K. Jha

www.motorola.com

U.S. Headquarters: Schaumburg, Ill.

Motorola announced in late 2010 it will break into two separate companies on Jan. 4, 2011. One company will be made up of Motorola’s remaining consumer products, which now include items such as cell phones and cable top boxes, and the second company will feature such products as radios for law enforcement, as well as barcode scanners. An indication of Motorola’s confidence in the upcoming separation, the company has announced the UAE launch of Motorola Flipout and Motorola Defy phones.

In announcing the company’s split into two separate entities, Co-CEOs Greg Brown and Sanjay Jha said, “We look forward to taking advantage of the opportunities before us as we begin the New Year as two independent, publicly traded companies.”

In mid-December 2010, Motorola Mobility completed the acquisition of software firm 4Home. Company officials said the acquisition will enhance Motorola’s leadership position in the convergence of mobility, media and the Internet with a service framework for enabling converged cross-device experiences and empowering consumers to control and access information for their digital lives.

NaviSite, Inc.

CEO: Brooks Borcherding

www.navisite.com

U.S. Headquarters: Andover, Mass.

With the proliferation of cloud hosted services, NaviSite, Inc., a provider of enterprise-class hosting, managed application services, managed messaging services, and managed cloud services, is one to watch in 2011/ NaviSite provides IT hosting, outsourcing and professional services primarily for mid-market organizations.

The Andover, Mass.-based company’s first quarter, which ended Oct. 31, 2010, was $33.4 million, representing a year-over-year increase of 9 percent and a sequential increase of 2 percent and the cash generated from operating activities for the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 was $6.5 million, representing a 42 percent increase compared to the $4.6 million generated in the first quarter of fiscal year 2010 and representing an 83 percent increase over the $3.6 million generated in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010.

NaviSite offers a number of software as a service options and was at this year’s Cloud Expo to discuss some of the advancements that are currently. The biggest advantage to the cloud is the fact that “it applies to both the cost saving because not only is there a cost saving associated with going from physical to virtual, but now because we uniquely offer it as a truly consumptions based offering there are cost savings to that as well,” said NaviSite CEO Brooks Borcherding.

OPNET Technologies

Co-Founders: Marc Cohen, Alain Cohen (News - Alert)

www.opnet.com

U.S. Headquarters: Bethesda, Md.

OPNET has grown well beyond its original network-centric and capacity planning roots with a strong portfolio that supports transaction monitoring, application flows, and application dependency insights. The company offers an integrated suite of application performance management (APM) solutions for: end-user experience monitoring; application component monitoring; and end-to-end transaction analysis.

The company’s APM products continue to drive sales growth and profitability, and allowed the Bethesda, Md.-based company to achieve total revenue of $36.1 million, product revenue of $17.7 million, and operating income of $4.7 million in its Q2 of fiscal 2011. In mid-December 2010, shares of OPNET traded near a new 52-week high of $26.45. Approximately 56,000 shares traded hands vs. average 30-day volume of 132,000 shares. OPNET Technologies closed at $26.43, approximately 1.6 percent above its previous closing price. It’s possible – even likely – the firm will push through this barrier.

OPNET officials told InfoTech Spotlight that in 2011 the company will advance the state of application performance management, making the promise of true root cause analysis a reality by applying its high definition APM concept. “Our solution suite enables IT organizations to break down silos across the various domain teams so they can collaborate more effectively to deliver services to the business,” said Alain Cohen, OPNET’s president and CTO.

Oracle

CEO: Larry Ellison

www.oracle.com

U.S. Headquarters: Redwood Shores, Calif.

It has been well over a year since Oracle completed its $7.3 billion takeover of Sun Microsystems, and Oracle’s plans for shaping Sun’s computer hardware with Oracle’s software have finally taken shape in recent months. Further, its shares recently cracked $31 per share, the highest they’ve been priced since the dot-com boom a decade ago. The enterprise information management software provider also released the industry’s first complete, open standards-based office productivity suites for desktop, Web and mobile users.

At press time, Oracle was up 5.6 percent to $31.95 at last check, as the Redwood City, Calif.-based tech giant beat Wall Street’s expectations. And not one to be left in the dust, Oracle unveiled its Web-based Oracle Cloud Office 1.0 and Oracle Open Office 3.3 productivity application suites to compete against Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs. On a final note: In 2010, Oracle shocked the industry when, in back-to-back press statements, it announced that President Charles Phillips had resigned and former HP CEO Mark Hurd had been named to replace him. Oracle will no doubt continue to make waves in 2011.

 

Research in Motion

Co-CEOs: Jim Balsillie, Mike Lazardis

www.rim.com

Headquarters: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

With its PlayBook tablet set to launch in early 2011 coupled with its success of the touch-screen BlackBerry Torch, Research in Motion may have its time to shine. The company has clearly been underestimated by analysts: Shares of Research in Motion were up 1.5 percent, after the maker of the BlackBerry device reported a 45 percent jump in profit.

RIM’s Mike Lazaridis is talking as though he wants to take the market leader in bringing its PlayBook QNX platform to smartphones. The outspoken co-CEO shared on record on “D: Dive Into Mobile” that RIM will be taking the PlayBook’s QNX platform to smartphones just as soon as he has dual-core baseband CPUs.

The biggest challenge for bringing this technology to the smartphone market is power consumption. Until this challenge can be overcome, it could easily limit the ability of this technology to drive the ultimate benefit it is meant to provide. Even in facing this challenge, RIM still seems to be fully acknowledging both that QNX is a little too robust for today’s smartphones and the BlackBerry OS is not quite robust enough – but that could easily and quickly change. Until then, RIM is truly in a bind to try and bring this together. Once the dual-core revolution takes hold – and it more than likely will – RIM should benefit considerably, especially if the company can be first to market.

Zenith Infotech (News - Alert)

CEO: Akash Saraf

www.zenithinfotech.com

U.S. Headquarters: Pittsburgh, Penn.

Zenith Infotech, an international company serving IT service providers worldwide, is focused around identify emerging enterprise-class technologies and designing solutions catered to the small and medium business. The Pittsburgh, Penn.-based company’s portfolio consists of three separate yet complementary services: managed services with back office support, help desk and business continuity.

At age 15, Akash Saraf, Zenith’s managing director and CEO, started working with his father at Zenith Computers Ltd. in India. He started Zenith Infotech as a software company in 1996 and made inroads in the Indian banking and financial industry by developing solutions for total branch automation. Today, over 4,000 IT service providers use Zenith as their managed service partner – the firm currently monitors and manages over 150,000 servers, 500,000 desktops and half a million network devices domestically and overseas.

With an increase in demand for business continuity plans and the continued C-level expectation of reducing overhead costs while increasing profits, Zenith stands posed for continued growth in 2011 and beyond.


Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TMCnet, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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