Much as the Greek goddess Athena emerged from the forehead of Zeus, the marketplace for governance, risk and compliance (GRC) software was birthed in an epic headache. The accounting scandals and subsequent bankruptcies of Enron and WorldCom prompted the creation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and GRC software soon emerged to help companies comply with the regulations.

"If you look at the genesis of the GRC market, it was brought on by the passage of SOX in 2002," says Tom Eid, VP research, at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. "The first GRC solutions emerged in 2004, and at that point the focus was really on the finance and audit function."

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