For decades, competition among the world’s largest enterprise-software companies has been unbelievably fierce. With billions of dollars in private-sector and government contracts in the balance, these giants will resort to all kinds of hardball tactics—even unbelievably expensive lawsuits—in order to win what many executives perceive as a zero-sum game. The advent of the cloud introduced even more competitors onto this battlefield.
For many technologists, working in this high-pressure environment can also yield substantial opportunities. It’s not just the money, although companies such as Oracle have a reputation for paying their specialists extremely well; you also have the opportunity to work on projects that potentially impact thousands of companies and millions of people.
With all that in mind, we decided to look at how much some of the longest-running enterprise-software companies pay software engineers who are in the early-middle stages of their careers. For the data, we turned to levels.fyi, which relies on self-reported crowdsourcing; while this isn’t the most scientific method, the levels.fyi numbers tend to align with those presented by other sources, such as Glassdoor, so we feel somewhat comfortable with them.
Before we break down the chart, there’s one other thing to mention: We’ve excluded certain companies from this mix, including IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon, which also have substantial enterprise-software divisions. While we might spin up some of those comparisons later, for this article we wanted to focus on companies known for almost exclusively focusing on enterprise and corporate backend software. With that in mind:
If we take these numbers as indicative of these companies’ broader compensation trends, it’s clear that some rely far more on stock than others (our previous analysis of Oracle and SAP pay throughout the arc of an engineer’s career suggests that these trends in salary, stock, and bonuses remain consistent). For technologists who like equity, that’s potentially good news.
At first glance, it also seems like ServiceNow and SAP pay far less than Oracle and Workday. However, as with any aspect of the technology industry, compensation is highly correlated with skills and specialization—pretty much any company is willing to dispense a hefty paycheck if a technologist can demonstrate they have an in-demand skillset, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.). Given the immense scale of the projects at these companies, solid knowledge of project management is often essential, as well.
Over the past decade, the enterprise-software giants have migrated (with varying degrees of speed and success) to the cloud. This has disrupted those companies’ traditional roadmaps, which relied heavily on on-premises tech stacks, and sparked competition with rising cloud providers such as Amazon and Microsoft. For technologists with cloud skills, however, that transition has proven a potentially lucrative thing—if you’re a cloud architect or engineer, there’s a good chance that an enterprise software company could use your abilities.