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Monday, October 13, 2008

The End of Financial Industry ?

It has been 10 years ever since the dot-com crashed. While most of those young people like me who gotten ourselves into the industry while we were in college during that period would admit that it is fate that got us this far, we are often unfazed by the fact that there were so much to lose out had we gotten ourselves into other arenas.

It is now 2008 the world is at it again, this time it is affecting the financial industry. The media has dubbed Oct 2008 as Black October and for the first time in history, we are witnessing big nations coming together trying to solve one problem, to prevent the riches from getting poorer.

Well, fair enough, everybody deserves to protect their own interests. But the problem with this financial crisis is far from beginning. In fact, not many layman would not have had any bad experiences yet so far.

The software industry is going to be affected severely, with anticipation that consumers will cut back on investments into software and even upgrades. Software companies need to plan harder now to keep-alive and cash flow is very crucial. (Well, it is for everybody).

It will be a mistake to think that software industry has immunity from the recent financial industry turmoil because there isn't much requirement for capital in the software business. Point taken, but one can't expect to sell software like selling shoes whereby a finished model is finished and the fate of the sales are in the hand of the sales and marketing department. A software, you still need to provide continuous support and that it unlimited cost. Never buy a software which doesn't have any support team, that is a waste of money.

We have to crack our head now to think about where to find cash flows. We can guess that piracy rate will rise back and free software download will increase. Perhaps, software companies can look into providing at least one service on open-source such as deployment or training. People are definitely going to love their Excel more now and they are sure going to ignore new brands and try out new things.

One thing for sure, people are going to move back to fundamentals and nevermind those add-on features which are going to make you sleep better. And this reinstates the uniqueness of iPhone whereby I guess that the sales will not be affected much for the reason that phone is a fundamental, the app store may be annoying but it is nice that it is there.

Perhaps another way to counter this is to maximize availability and affordability and trade-off profitability. Bigger companies like SAP are going to feel the pinch as well.

Software vendors are going to have to work harder because the sales will come slower and internal IT executives will have to buckle up as well because there will be lesser budget for outsourcing. And all these will give 'lifestyle' a very bad name.

In retrospect, this may create a lot of vacancies in the ICT industry where stress is, because the harsher reality from within and outside of the industry will create immense pressure for the knowledge workers, particularly those in R & D, software development, sales and marketing. Talents would be more willing to shift into less stressful jobs but equally tiring jobs such as supports, customers service, management and consulting.

This will in turn create a gap in the technology innovation area because the smaller guys can't wait for 5 years to see huge profits due to constraint budgets and bigger guys can't afford to pay employees with good pay while maintaining a pessimistic outlook. Everybody it seems, have to help the CEO to bear the burden of this reality.

This technology innovation gap will benefit the following parties:
  • Very big companies like Micrsoft, Google, SAP and etc
  • Gung-Ho Start-Ups who doesn't need much cash-flow to survive
  • Fanatic Students who Dare to Reinvent the Wheel
As a result of this, in another 3 to 5 years, approximately at the turning point of this financial crisis (2008), we may perhaps witness the birth of another Google,Microsoft, Apple alike.

But then again, perhaps this is the time to clear out the old and let the new guys move in. Older guys are definitely going to either stay low-profile or quit the industry totally because 3, 5 or even 10 years will be just too much of a long haul. Now you have to ask yourself, are you old or new ?

4 comments:

visithra said...

brandon this is a well written article - most of us who got out in the last recession are wary of the situation - n i dont think the worst is over

Brandon Teoh said...

Thanks.

I think it is just the beginning.

Michael Tsen said...

financial industry will not end simply because Forex trading is still here and here to stay it seems. To really end this era, forex must be stopped first.

Brandon Teoh said...

Agree.. but just that it is hard to make money in it.