Here in Philadelphia, New Year starts with a bang; firework displays are all around, literally as impromptu, dangerous, and illegal displays are launched from roofs, between parked cars, and from the sidewalks. Come to New Year’s Day itself, Mummers take over the streets, parading and competing for prizes, and once darkness falls, drinking and partying till dawn. I don’t know how they do it; many are drunk well before noon. But we know with certainty in South Philly that New Year’s will always be loud and memorable. However, the last few years in the tech sector have been far less predictable and full of uncertainty, change, and turmoil. But if there is one thing we do know for sure, 2024 will be a pivotal year for enterprise software.
2023 brought us heady vapors of success, dreams, and aspirations in the form of Generative AI; 2024 will bring us back to reality with a thud. All in all, that is a good thing, as beyond the constant headlines of 2023, there was a sense of desperation and uncertainty in the community. Moving forward, a heightened sense of where things stand, what needs to be done, where opportunities lie, and where hazards should be avoided has become clearer.
Let’s start with the awkward topic of money. Plenty is sitting around if you want to raise money for your business, but speculative ideas and business plans will struggle to unlock checkbooks. A path to profitability and strong revenue are prerequisites for Series A & B funding rounds; gone are the days of burning through mountains of cash year after year. The IPO market has been moribund for a few years now, and though crazy valuations are likely off the table in 2024, we will almost certainly see a significant lift in the number of tech IPOs this year. Similarly, we will see PE (Private Equity) firms starting to offload and, in some cases, break up the business portfolios they have spent the last decade building. They have to, as they are sitting on an eyewatering $2.8T in investment. In short, instead of everyone sitting around waiting for somebody to make a move, as has been the case for a few years now, there will be movement, and I suspect quite a lot of it in the coming year.
From a tech standpoint, the challenge and opportunity will be to find viable, profitable, and practical business cases for AI. The second challenge and opportunity will be to look beyond the same old buyers and industry sectors for growth. Ironically, the world of enterprise software, which prides itself on its history of innovation and disruption, often finds it hard to innovate and disrupt beyond the technology itself. We know that the total addressable market (TAM) for Information Management and automation is far from saturated; it’s the opposite: it is a large greenfield market with minimal penetration. Yet, to hear startups and established vendors talk, you would think the opposite: they are all trying to sell to the same small group of potential buyers. Let me put it this way: we have more than enough options for automating accounts payable. Beyond traditional markets, you will find opportunities left, right, and center in supply chains, healthcare management, construction, engineering, etc. In short, plenty of businesses and new opportunities are out there, but it will take effort to understand their needs and connect with them.
This means that at Deep Analysis, we will spend 2024 helping folks navigate these new waters, finding and connecting to new markets and investors. We are already doing just that and will continue throughout the year. Similarly, our door will remain open to any and all that are looking to tell us about their latest and greatest, bitch and moan about all they perceive to be wrong in the tech sector, or just looking for an honest, unvarnished, blunt, and as near as possible unbiased opinion. So, as the traffic disruption and mountains of beer cans are cleared from ‘Two Street,’ we wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year and look forward to meeting you, in person or online in 2024.