Singer and pianist Little Richard once said, “It’s not the size of the ship; it’s the size of the waves.” In the waters of enterprise software, ships like IBM, Microsoft, and SAP are well-known names. Their size, breadth of coverage, brand recognition, and market influence reflect their success. As does their revenue. These firms offer broad platforms, unified data models, integrations, and professional services. What else could you ask for?

But combining breadth of coverage and product quality isn’t easy. Our report The State Of The Enterprise Software Giants In 2023 analyzes six of the largest enterprise software vendors: Adobe, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and SAP. In a nutshell, focused giants like Adobe and Salesforce maintain superior product quality over behemoths like IBM and SAP. Here’s why:

  • Customer-centricity is key. Adobe and Salesforce prioritize customer focus in their strategies, operations, and product portfolios. The two firms sport offerings including marketing, commerce, and CRM that require attention and investment towards serving customer needs.
  • Agility is a prerequisite to innovation. Adobe and Salesforce are giants in their own right but haven’t compromised their agility. They have track records of being nimble and have the resources and know-how to be first movers in the markets they serve. Additionally, their focused product portfolios allow them to specialize in their markets. They’re less inclined to bite off more than they can chew and risk neglecting certain coverage areas.
  • Agility and customer-centricity go hand in hand. Customers expect their needs to be met ever more quickly. This is a challenge the focused giants are well positioned to support. Agility breeds innovation, and innovation is best applied to customer priorities.

We marshaled financials and data from Forrester Wave™ evaluations of each of the six vendors over the past five years. Adobe and Salesforce have maintained consistent quality and performance among their more focused portfolio of software offerings. Their strategy of focus and specialization is far more conducive to software quality and innovation than the “jack of all trades and master of none” strategy pursued by larger firms. Through their agility and customer-centricity, the focused giants have punched above their weight. Meanwhile, IBM, Oracle, and SAP have lower performance in both metrics. Even the largest of ships aren’t immune from running aground. However, note that this dynamic is relative – Salesforce is the behemoth versus a niche vendor laser-focused in an area like email marketing services.

Read The State Of The Enterprise Software Giants In 2023 for further analysis on all of these vendors, and how best to work with them.