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20/20 Hindsight: A Look Back at My 2011 Predictions

Todd McKinnon

It’s that time of year again. With 2012 upon us, industry leaders, writers and analysts are all placing their bets for what’s to come during the next 365 days. I’m expecting this to be a year of first for the cloud, but let's save my 2012 predictions for tomorrow. For now, I’d like to take a look back at my 2011 predictions to see how I fared.

1. On-demand enterprise software revenue will break the $10 billion barrier

Result: Too early to tell

While the final market numbers won’t be known until Gartner, Forrester and the only analyst firms release their reports, it’s clear from the financial results of leading public companies such as Salesforce.com that on-demand enterprise software made huge headway in 2011.

Along with the momentum of private companies like Box.com, Zuora and Workday, the cloud had a breakout year.

2. The unemployment rate for top talent will remain at 0%

Result: Correct

The market for top tech talent remains as hot as ever. An additional trend that has become clear is that while it is very difficult for cloud computing vendors to hire, it is nearly impossible for companies in different industries looking to build up in-house cloud talent. This will make private cloud deployments difficult and hasten the move to the public cloud.

3. 2011 is the year Salesforce.com will use their awesome market cap to make their first $500 million-plus acquisition

Result: Close, but no cigar

Salesforce.com bought Radian6 for about $325 million. Who would have predicted that Oracle’s purchase of RightNow for $1.5 billion or SAP’s $3.4 billion bid for SuccessFactors would have been the cloud deals north of $500 million? Not me.

4. One of the Big 5 (Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco or IBM) will make a run to acquire Salesforce.com

Result: Wrong

There are constant rumors about this, especially involving Oracle. But I expected something overt and aggressive, which didn’t happen.

5. Salesforce.com transactions will pass 1 billion per day

Result: Progress, but not quite there

Daily transactions are closing in on 700 million per day. Good progress in the last 12 months, but not enough to break into the billions.

6. Amazon will spin out AWS and take it public

Result: Wrong

A bold prediction and just plain wrong. I should have predicted that Amazon would launch the only viable iPad competitor.

7. LinkedIn will be the breakthrough IPO of 2011

Result: Correct

LinkedIn lead the way to a strong year for tech IPOs.

8. Microsoft’s Office 365 will ramp more like Windows 7 or Kinect than Vista

Result: Wrong

The product reviews of Office 365 are strong, but the actual adoption in the marketplace is unclear, and Microsoft isn’t sharing user counts or revenue numbers.

9. Microsoft’s Azure won’t fare quite as well

Result: Correct

Azure is, indeed, off to a slow start. Again, Microsoft is slim on details but most people agree they’re trailing far behind Amazon, Salesfore.com and others.

10. Oracle moves to the cloud — Expect a big acquisition or two, or at least a cloud-laden OpenWorld next fall

Result: Correct

The RightNow acquisition was a big step into the cloud for Oracle. At OpenWorld, the company announced a public cloud offering and cloud versions of many of their applications. Most amazing was how Larry Ellison spent 30 minutes of a keynote presentation talking about how much better at “cloud” Oracle is than Salesforce.com. The cloud officially has their attention.

11. HTML 5 will struggle to live up to its hype

Result: Correct

All the important mobile apps are native, not HTML. I don’t see this changing any time soon. HTML 5 will make progress enriching content-focused websites and providing offline storage for applications such as Google Docs.

Check back tomorrow to read my take on what’s in store for the cloud in ’12.