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I’m a Gladwell fan. All of his books have a theme, dragging you in and never letting go. In the Tipping Point, he analyzes products, events, and phenomena that reach “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point …” This isn’t a guide to how to get there, but the stories of Hush Puppy shoes, the NY City Crime Rate, and Six Degrees of Seperation resonate. Oh, the Kevin Bacon game was so fun to play. It’s the movie A Few Good Men that makes the game work. Hard to believe the kid who just wanted to dance stands tall in the center of the acting universe.

In the technology industry, Tipping Points are so important, especially in the enterprise market. Because the industry moves so fast, it’s easy to track hype cycles. Once a technology reaches 30 to 40 percent share, it can roll the market. Big companies want to know somebody has done this before. It really doesn’t matter what this is. Take the following:

  • The database wars. There was a period where Oracle, IBM, Informix, and Sybase ruled the market. When Oracle hit 40 percent market share, it rolled. In most quadrants, they still lead today; although, open source and other non-relational technologies are beginning to chip away.
  • In CRM, Salesforce is fast approaching the threshold.
  • For email management systems, Microsoft controls almost 90 percent of the Fortune 500 market. That’s tough for newcomers to overcome. 
  • And in the CMS market, WordPress runs over 27% of all websites, gaining momentum and becoming the fabric of the web.

When the wind is at your back, it’s hard (not necessarily impossible) for the competition to retake the lead.