The Software 2005 Conference - A Review

The Software 2005 conference is now a wrap. This conference, presented by M.R. Rangaswami and The Sandhill Group, is now an annual event and attendance increased 35% this year over 2004. It is an ideal opportunity for those in the enterprise software industry to see what's new and what's coming, as well as to catch up with old colleagues and make new connections. It is also a perfect forum for startups to gain exposure as well as solicit funding and key partnerships.

According to Sandhill, there were 1500 attendees this year, including 100 press and 100 VCs. Half of those in attendance were CEOs. We spotted a number of them, including entrepeneur/CEO (now a VC) Ken Ross, Indus CEO Greg Dukat, Composite SW and entrepeneur Jim Green, former webMethods CEO Phillip Merrick, and a host of others.

M.R. has a rolodex that anyone would die for, and he put it to good use in attracting the top executives from major enterprise software and services companies such as Oracle, Intuit, McKinsey and others for keynote addresses. There were also a number of breakout tracks on the latest trends in our industry, including SaaS, open source and offshoring.

There were a couple of unique forums made available for select startups. including the Launch and the Funding Forum, where startups were given a fixed amount of time to present their business plan to investors, who were invited back to the conference floor for further discussions if interested. Mark Cosway, a member of our board of advisors and President of ActStream Technologies, participated in Launch, and reported new contacts with a number of interested investors.

After taking in this conference, we think that it is safe to say that enterprise software as an industry is 'cautiously optimistic'. Venture investments are picking up, M&A activity is growing, and the overall buzz was a good one, after the last 4-5 years of doom and gloom. Many of the people that we talked to had taken long sabbaticals after the dot-com bust, and are just now getting back in the game.

All in all, the feeling was that it is a good time to be in the software and information technology business. We hope they're right - we certainly feel that way.

Ash Seha is a partner at The Launch Factory LLP, a consultancy specializing in marketing, sales, and product management strategy for software and IT companies. Their expertise, garnered from such IT highflyers as i2, webMethods, SAP, and Baan, is focused on breaking the growth bariers that stand between high-growth software and IT companies and their revenue and marketshare goals.

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