TIBCO Software (NASDAQ:TIBX) CEO Vivek Ranadive didn't mince words in his keynote for this week's TIBCO users conference, TUCON 2013. Like the famous opening of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, these are the best of times and the worst of times for modern businesses.
In this age of transition, it's a golden era for nimble data collectors like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). But if your business isn't taking advantage of the opportunities that the Big Data revolution brings, you're part of the old guard getting crushed under the wheels of the new winners.
Ranadive noted that Apple's iTunes store is the world's No. 1 seller of music, but you won't find iTunes record stores at the local mall. Likewise, Amazon is the world's largest book seller but doesn't own any bookstores. Qualcomm sells more chips than any other company, but farms out manufacturing to specialized foundries.
The common denominator between these three companies is that each upended an established industry by replacing physical gods with digital data. Apple knocked out compact discs and vinyl records, replacing them with digital downloads. Amazon has done something similar with hardbacks and e-books. In the process, both Apple and Amazon built massive data stores of their customers' preferences, shopping habits, and of course, credit cards. Both companies mine their rich customer data collections to plan their next moves.
The Qualcomm example is a little different but no less radical. The company saw the mobile and Big Data revolutions coming, and decided to focus on accelerating that revolution with a torrent of chip development in related areas. It's wireless radios, GPS chips, sensors for real-world data, power management tools. Name a mobile chip category, Qualcomm is probably a leader in it.
The "fabless" operating model allowed Qualcomm to focus on product development instead of manufacturing worries, which makes an exponential difference if you get started early. The company is also a large TIBCO customer, because TIBCO's data analysis and integration tools help Qualcomm's many development teams work together more efficiently. The resulting sector-leading products took Qualcomm all the way to the top of the semiconductor unit sales charts in 2012, and the company ranks third in revenue.
As these examples show, Big Data analysis tools can help ordinary companies make the leap into market-leading excellence. TIBCO is not the only company to provide these game-changing tools, but Ranadive would argue that his brand is the best of the breed. TIBCO's results back up Ranadive's words as the company often beats much larger household names in head-to-head comparisons.
The Big Data megatrend is happening whether you like it or not. I'm a TIBCO shareholder because I see the company as a leader in this important space. Feel free to drop your own favorite Big Data investment in the comments box below.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Tibco Software. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, and Tibco Software. Check out Anders' bio and holdings or follow him on Twitter and Google+.
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