The technological evolution of IT industry leaders: 2000 - 2020

Last updated:December 2019

Editor's note

The state of IT entering 2020 is vastly different from just two decades ago. Cloud computing is commonplace, 20.4 billion Internet of Things devices are projected to be online, dial-up Internet connections have given way to broadband speeds and consumers walk around with cell phones that have 10 times more compute power than desktop computers did in 2000.

Companies leading the technological evolution have gone through changes, as well: Oracle vies to become a cloud computing company; Cisco has settled into a role as a supplier of internet infrastructure and purveyor of emerging networking technologies; Dell bought EMC, which had bought VMware; SAP has broadened from back-office business software to focus on database cloud services and Microsoft has moved from a desktop OS provider to an AI and quantum computer maker.

This guide explores the technological evolution of some of the leading IT companies throughout the past two decades, including the technologies that have risen to the forefront, from real-time analytics and data management to Cisco's edge computing ambitions.


Launched in 1977, Oracle found its footing in the 80s and 90s as a database vendor. Purchases of PeopleSoft in 2003 and Siebel in 2005 furthered Oracle's technological evolution, helping the vendor gain ground in the enterprise software market. In 2010, Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems was approved, expanding the company's reach into open source technologies including MySQL and Java. Nearly a decade later, Oracle's looking to cement its standing in the cloud computing space. Learn more about its journey.


Cisco kicked off 2000 on a high note, edging out Microsoft in March to become the most valuable company in the world, with a stock market capitalization of $569 billion. A year later, the dot-com bubble had burst, and Cisco shrank to $117 billion. In the 18 years since, Cisco has cemented its dominance in the networking market and is growing its business with a string of acquisitions in the past two years. Find out what technologies the company is watching as it enters the next decade, and more about its evolution.


Dell's technological evolution from PC vendor to a leader in the server, storage and virtualization markets was a long and winding path, built on partnerships and acquisitions. Most notably, the company's $67 billion acquisition of EMC in 2015 -- currently still the largest tech acquisition in history -- helped Dell secure its leadership in the storage arena. Learn more about the company's development over the past 20 years, and discover what its storage and channel leaders anticipate for its future direction.


At the turn of the century, SAP had found a role as an ERP company, fueled by businesses scrambling to consolidate IT on back-office systems prior to Y2K. A decade later, it rolled out SAP HANA, its in-memory database, and followed up with a cloud application buying spree. In 2015, the company introduced S/4HANA, a major write of its ERP technology. As the company enters its next decade, it's focusing on enabling S/4HANA migrations for customers and its intelligent enterprise. Get caught up on SAP's journey.


Microsoft got its start in the 1970s selling a BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800 PC. In the 80s, the company shifted into operating systems, and by 1999 it had grown into a goliath worth $22.9 billion. The past two decades have been marked by leadership changes, and shifts into open source in the cloud. Learn more about Microsoft's technological evolutions, what's ahead for SharePoint and its roadmap for future products.

6Business analytics

The technological evolution of the past two decades has enabled the democratization of data across organizations. Whereas previously, analytics were assessed and distributed by data scientists and data engineers, the Internet and mobile and cloud computing have put information in the hands of users. Find out how the analytics revolution has affected organizations, and what experts think BI might look like in the near future.

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