Dear British Airways

I have standardized all my travel on BA. It’s a conscious decision based upon the following experience:

  1. When you reach Gold status then you get an extra baggage allowance and extra weight. That matters when I travel with heavy studio equipment.
  2. The BA lounges in London are among the best in the world. The shared lounge in Sydney is truly world class. Others are less so. The one at Malaga, shared with Iberia is pathetic. Earlier this week I was in the Concorde Room at Heathrow and was able to bring a colleague into the same space on my card. He was able to benefit from the same facilities as myself. Another bonus.
  3. BA staff are among the most courteous in the world. They know who their frequent flyers are and address them personally. There is for instance nothing nicer than to be greeted on board with something like: ‘Good to see you again Mr Howlett, we hope you enjoy your flight.’ It isn’t fake – they mean it because their livelihoods depend upon people like me coming back for more.
  4. You can have a proper conversation with BA staff, whether on the ground or in the air about issues that matter. They’re chatty, candid and have no qualms about telling you where management are messing up.
  5. While the ‘golden days’ of BA travel are gone for staff, those who remain and are in long service provide a thoroughly professional service.

All of which contrasts wildly with the low cost airlines who seem to treat passengers as little more than a vehicle from which to extract as much cash as possible. I am sure that’s at the behest of management.

But…like so many other businesses, there are key parts of BA service that don’t work so well.

Critique

  1. Right now there is a labor dispute in Spain with Iberia staff. BA and Iberia are part of a mega corp that is imposing much needed change on Iberia methods and systems. Staff don’t like it and are striking at certain intervals. Iberia staff are effectively grounding many flights in and out of Spain. BA staff for their part don’t seem to know what’s going on or only have glimpses of the right information. There is no coordination between management and staff such that passengers get a clear message. BA doesn’t communicate directly with passengers about possible disruption. It is chaotic.
  2. I get that labor disputes are fluid situations but having a clear communications strategy in these and similar circumstances would do much to reduce passenger tension.
  3. BAs training policies are slapdash. At least part of the Iberia problem is that staff are having to learn a new system after 20 some years of using their own. This is never an easy task but there seems little on the ground support. BA staff tell me they have similar problems. This goes to the core of managing your people effectively. To their credit, BA staff solider on as best they can but it isn’t optimal. BA could use its own staff to help their Spanish colleagues, but I see no evidence of that.
  4. BA has a nice Twitter presence. However it doesn’t seem well equipped to answer questions and especially not deal with gripes. This is customer care 101 and again, BA could do itself a lot of good by learning from the candor that front line staff share with customers.
  5. BA occasionally asks passengers to complete surveys. Passengers are rewarded for doing so with generous Avios additions to their account. However, the surveys I have seen are methodologically unsound. They point towards providing BA management with ‘feel good’ feedback rather than honest appraisals. How does that help BA improve its service? I don’t get it.

Suggestions

This month, BA has a very good entertainment package with films like Argo, Skyfall and Lincoln all on the menu. However, everyone gets those choices. Would they be better differentiating classes of travel through different entertainment options? I think so. Would that represent a genuine value add for business and first class passengers? I think so.

Arriving in the US is always a tortuous business. Could BA improve its service by negotiating fast track clearance for business and first class travelers? How much of a value add would that be when the alternative is queuing for an hour in circumstances which are only going to get worse as the year progresses?

Concluding thoughts

Digital business and media puts the passenger in a position to render opinions and thoughts that no business can control. As you can see…I am sure BA ‘gets’ that but its responses are patchy. It tries to ‘game’ some of its passengers like me, by giving us upgrades and the like. That is all to the goos and, in truth, is their only real way of encouraging positive feedback. The First Class experience is definitely up there with the world’s best but there are more ways to improve service.

12 things to know about #evilplans

ssshJust checking in and noticed that I’ve not posted a thing here for 10 days. Has it been that long? Wow.

Anyhoo – the ‘real’ #evilplans have been consuming 90 percent of my time and so it has been really difficult to get content out other than a clutch of videos I shot recently. Add in the fact I’ve bounced back and forth between countries in Europe and you can see how cranking out content might be a tad challenging.

To make matters worse, I am now on the first leg of a monster piece of travel that will see me in multiple locations in the US, Australia and South East Asia between now and the end of the month.

The hope is I have shoehorned enough time into the schedule to publish stories here but right now I can’t guarantee that will be the case or that it will be a regular diet. In the meantime, please bear with me. There’s a shedload of things going on in the background that I think will surprise a few people, flummox others, delight a good few and irritate the heck out of those that won’t understand what’s going on. All of that is OK.

Rather than keep teasing though I’ll give a few hints.

  1. It ain’t just me. There’s a ‘gang of five’ (noooo…not the C5 of a past era)
  2. The team has a combined ‘age’ of 125 in terms of experience.
  3. Some of us write or have written code.
  4. We are so not corporate types. Each of us has a wee rebellious streak.
  5. We each have a distinctive ‘style’ that should make reading our ‘stuff’ interesting at the very least.
  6. We are building a wholly new media model which has not been done before but which is so obvious when you think about it that some folk will say ‘ah-ha.’ Experience tells me those obvious things are often the best things.
  7. The model can be replicated but not easily given the way media operates. We’re finding out just how hard it is but it’s fun along the way.
  8. Here’s one thing for those of you who hate advertising – we won’t have any. Period.
  9. Here’s another. It will be content driven. Nothing else.
  10. We’re chewing off some big hairy problems but if our model works then everyone wins.
  11. We have a declared launch date of 1st May. I really hope it doesn’t slip. If it does then all are encouraged to beat me up for failing.
  12. I wanted to call the new thing #evilplans for real. Wiser heads explained that it might attract the wrong kind of attention. Oh well, can’t win ’em all. So what’s it called. That’s for later but think two things: digital and economy. Go figure from there.

More later…

UNIT4’s central UK government deal implies a shift in thinking around shared services

unit4 screenHot on the heels of winning an important deal with other government departments and pivoting its own business model, UNIT4 announced its first central government shared services deal, this time as the solution provider to the Department of Transport. The deal, which is rumored to run low eight figures over the life of the services agreement, sees UNIT4 make its first major strike against the SAP/Oracle hegemony.

Arvato, a German business process outsourcing provider is the main contractor in the seven year arrangement. It is the first time that the UK government has chosen to outsource a shared service center to the private sector.

According to Information Age:

The “planning assumption” of the project is that other government departments, including Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government, will in future also use the outsourced function as a shared service.

Commentary

This is an important deal at multiple levels. Here’s why:

  1. The accepted SAP/Oracle hegemony is now under question. Calls to Oracle partners suggest they believe the UK government will never be able to get away from using their software because they are so deeply entrenched within government. Only recently, it is said that Safra Catz, Oracle president cut a substantial deal with government over payroll upgrades. The Arvato deal puts a question mark over those assumptions.
  2. While UK government might well continue to award large contracts to the ‘usual suspects,’ the planning assumptions outlined above suggest a different strategy that gives a seat at the table to smaller, more nimble and cost effective alternatives. In essence, those large contracts will now come under increased scrutiny.
  3. None of the parties to this deal are disclosing costs or anticipated savings. This should not surprise given the UK government’s long history of failed or expensive projects. However, UNIT4 does have a track record of success in this area. In Norway for example, it has 115 departments running off a single shared instance. In Australia, it counts Queensland as a success, contrasting with IBM and SAP’s recent troubles at Queensland.
  4. UK government has set itself a stretch goal of £600 million in IT savings over the coming years. Sources say the low end of expectations is in the £128 million range. Much depends on the ability of departments to learn from project success and collaborate with one another. That is always difficult where politics are involved. However, the changed mood suggests that in the UK at least, government is determined to wring significant change out of its IT investments. Whether this translates into strong growth for firms like Arvato and UNIT4 remains to be seen.

The chaotic world of mobile

MWCThis week has been Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As events go, it is by far the largest I attend, with around 1,500 exhibitors spread across nine halls and an estimated 70,000 visitors. This year I got a sense of panic, chaos and bewilderment in an industry that seems befuddled by conflicting standards and an inability to rejig itself for the 21st century – at least in the developed world.

There were no blockbuster announcements but a heck of a lot of upbeat yap. There was a mass of innovation, mostly among the small vendors. There was a lot of talk about how opportunities in Africa are leading to amazing new business models, and especially around mobile finance. There was emphasis on the smart city enabled by mobile devices, applications and infrastructure. But scratch beneath the surface and you quickly find a lot of confusion.

For example, I met with Deutsche Telekom which has a partnership with IBM and SAP for the connected public sector. Each provides a great brand name. Each brings special skills and technology to the party. But ask who leads the deals and you are met with blank stares. DT think they do because they already have the customers. Ask IBM and you get the same answer. Ask SAP and they are darned certain they lead because of the applications. But in reality, nobody really knows and they have as yet to figure a way of collaborating sensibly in the deal space so that everyone wins.

Contrast that with PHB Development, a tiny mobile financial services and microfinance outfit based in Belgium that spent the last year or so building out mobile payment technology in Nigeria for Orange. There is a video to come but it is a great story of how financial services and carrier companies could not figure out how to reach the unbanked. PHB worked it out for them.

Then there are the carriers. I have a special interest in Vodafone because as far as I can tell, their service is going from great to garbage at a fast clip. I went on their stand to find out if it is possible to aggregate routers as a way of cranking up my bandwidth. The answer? The folk I needed were all at lunch. ‘Come back in an hour.’ And this on a stand consuming acres of space.

Meanwhile, Volubill based out of London was talking about systems that help carriers to create tailored offers for consumers based upon predictive analytics. The system can provide a policies based scenario in less than 15 minutes, saving the carrier millions in consulting and custom code. It’s going down a storm in developed countries but is almost impossible to make work in developed countries. Why? The carriers cannot get from underneath their fixed rate plan mentality.

Monetising for the business world

The biggest problem however remains in the area of monetisation as it relates to mobile services that address business issues. It seems to be finally dawning on the application vendors that making money from mobile applications per se is unlikely to lead to any pots of gold. Instead, value will be derived from the services that create and enable new applications plus some sort of fee for connected devices. That makes sense in a world that is far removed from the 99 cent Apple Store. Why is this the case?

Talking to a number of vendors, the consensus is that pricing per app was commoditised by the Apple App Store long before business application vendors came on the scene. That meant there was no real way to price in the enterprise environment on a basis with which they are familiar. However, you can establish benefits for particular projects and then price accordingly.  It is a fair way to approach this problem but it is still very early days.

The carrier problem

As I went around listening to carriers, developers, appliance makers, infrastructure people and service providers, it became clear that those with the biggest problem are the carriers. Data is exploding around them. YouTube decides to make some new HD video facility available and the carriers have the headache of matching bandwidth needs at ever increasing cost. How do they solve that today?

In the developed world it is all about nickel and diming the customer with complex plans that cannot keep up with the needs of consumers or business. In my own case, simply browsing, checking GMail and floating around on Twitter and Facebook for less than two weeks and I consume 500MB of data. Want more? Sure – but pay for it in chunks I may or may not use. Want to use VoIP? No chance. That service gets throttled, driving me back to voice – the legacy cash cow the carriers are desperately trying to cling onto.

Even so, I got a sense of panic among the carriers who are finding that not only are costs out of their control but customers are unwilling and unable to pay the exhorbitant prices the carriers want to charge. As they see millions of users switch to the virtual operators, the mainstream carriers are left with few cards to play, ending up in a double bind from which they cannot extricate themselves without wholesale rejigging the business model. No-one wants to be the first one to blink.

My sense is that it will take significant pressure through social channels for the carriers to come up with alternative methods of pricing that satisfy demand yet preserve their EPS. But change may happen sooner rather than we think. The imposition of new European rules around roaming charges in 2014 means that the carriers will see their premium pricing for roaming disappear to a large extent. They will no longer be able to impose bill shock. It will be interesting to see their response.

Another response might be to pay closer attention to those who are working on ways to make the delivery of rich media more efficient and less consuming of bandwidth. We met with Kontron, a specialist development company out of Canada that is talking about technology it can embed inside Intel chips and inside server racks that helps crunch down the requirements for high quality video. They anticipate selling into content delivery network providers who in turn can then offer better services at lower bandwidth consumption levels.

The developer angle

Mobile development for business is still in its infancy. One organisation we met said that most of the ‘shops’ they come across consist of a handful of developers. Bringing them into large application ecosystems is a tricky business because as outlined above, the business models going forward cannot realistically be developed along the lines of the Apple App Store or Google Play. It is also expensive, requiring a significant upfront investment that isn’t easy to justify at a time when the models are unclear.

I suspect that the likes of SAP, Infor and others will start to figure this out over the coming year. Simply making the comparison to consumer App Stores and then deriding them as poor cousins fails to recognise the reality for everyone involved in the value chain.

Bright spots

There were some truly interesting application scenarios on show. One that I will return to in a video looks at the whole supply chain for vending machines. It doesn’t start and stop with using the mobile device as a payment mechanism although that is cool in itself. They’re looking at dynamic pricing based upon numerous variables like the weather, time of year and so on. They’re also thinking about tying sales of soft drinks to suggestions for snacks delivered as push notifications and alerts to mobile devices. They’re talking about using the data that comes back to feed into replenishment systems. That in turn leads to intelligent routing information that can be fed to delivery fleets. It’s heady stuff.

Concluding thoughts

Mobile is one fo those areas where the imagination can run riot. The possibilities are truly astonishing. Sensor information is now taking on significant importance as the business of mobile monetisation moves to the machines as in machine-to-machine communication of the kind implied in the vending example above. It is an exciting future and one that will stimulate important discussions between lines of business and technologists. That is a good thing.

Curiously, it is the kind of development I believe will help to drive transformational value in ways we can barely see today but which will be vital to economic growth and success in the future.

CIOs and CMOs in a tug of war? Doh!

via hermetic golden dawn

via hermetic golden dawn

It is rare for me to call out and out foul on a fellow commenter but Dion Hinchcliffe’s piece: A new reality between the CMO and CIO is the closest thing I have seen in a long time that I can describe as garbage.

In a piece that provides not a single statistic or example, Hinchcliffe manages to weave a yarn that starts with the polemic:

Today’s rapidly shifting marketplace is pushing business innovation and agility to new levels, while the rising primacy of digital engagement and all data related to it undergoes a tug of war between the CMO and CIO. How will businesses recalibrate these strategic roles for this new reality?

Larding the argument with ‘analysis’ and ‘belief’ I can find little of redeeming value in the piece. If anything, it is typical of the kind of drive by summary that takes a tiny slice of experience and then generalises to the whole world, often in an effort to ride a buzzword driven wave. It demonstrates the kind of methodologically nutty ‘analysis’ that pervades much of the fashionista commentary that pollutes our media and which adds little of practical value.

Contrast that with Vinnie Mirchandani’s perspective. He provides both broad and specific examples of what he concludes as:

The CIO and IT have long been morphing. And hearing greatly exaggerated rumors of their demise.

I take a different perspective. While some of Vinnie’s arguments are compelling and especially where he says:

Most CIOs I know do not like the current IT status quo, and some are pretty vocal about it

…..it is important to understand those views are skewed towards his innovation agenda. Nothing wrong with that and always good to hear but let’s understand their context before generalising.

From everything I see, CIOs have a problem that vendors do little to help solve. The tech industry is laden with marketing buzzwords that promise the earth and yet often comes up short in key technical areas. Some of those shortcomings are temporary, others more fundamental. A great example comes in the shape of responses to SAP Business Suite on HANA.

As background, SAP launched BS/H to great fanfare in January. As the weeks have rolled by, questions have emerged. I asked about one aspect of this technology. Jim Spath, who works for Black & Decker asks more mundane but crucially important questions. In a piece entitled Fast Is Not a Number, Spath throws out a simple question: where are the numbers for a specific process (SD) so that he can benchmark the results for a transaction system?

Comments in the thread are interesting. I can sum most of them up as implying: ‘it doesn’t matter because the overall benefits are good enough to justify the investment.’ That argument might work well when selling a $65 a month application to a line of business person but it doesn’t cut the mustard when the CIO is required to implement AND justify all the paraphernalia that surround a substantial investment. What almost everyone is missing in the discussion is the fact that Spath only wants to know the numbers. He doesn’t wish to place a judgment on the technology per se. In other words, Spath wants to contextualise a piece of the BS/H puzzle.

Avoiding these problems via marketing statements that serve to exclude the CIO help no one. If anything, they are likely to give rise to exactly the kind of ‘tug of war’ that Hinchcliffe implies, lead to a defensive IT organisation and preface disappointment

Quo vadis?

The time has come for both line of business and IT people to put down their weapons of mutually assured destruction and recognise that each has something of equal value to bring to the business value party.

Mirchandani’s examples point in the right direction. On the one hand, the companies he profiles are edge and leading edge cases. On the other hand, the adventurous CXO should also be celebrated. Dave Smoley, Flextronics’ CIO was an early adopter of Workday. It was a risk, but one that has paid off and saved money. It is easy to attribute the whole of that success to the solution but that would be to ignore the thinking behind the investment and the manner in which Smoley assured success.

When technical folk ask pointed questions the default answer should be: here are the answers or we’ll get back to you.

It all comes down to this: the tech industry is awash with fantastic (and fantastical) ideas. Many will fail. That’s the nature of IT innovation and a reality everyone should embrace. I suspect that far fewer ideas would fail if there was a sensible conversation between IT and those who want to try new things. We need a different dialog. We need conversations and stories that envision outcomes that both benefit the business but which also recognise the crucial role our internal technology partners play in both delivering solutions and releasing resources for the kinds of innovation Mirchandani envisions.

When that happens, IT does not simply become an enabler but a value added service to the business. Line of business people anxious to deploy new technology for (name your business campaign here) might not be happy with that prospect but then I wonder if they will be so quick to shoulder the responsibility of failure?

I’d much rather have the Spath’s of this world publicly asking questions born of deep experience than simply ignored because their view doesn’t slot into the marketing messaging of the latest technology fashion statement. On the other hand, I want to see more of the Smoley’s of this world showcasing not just their solutions but their experience.

UNIT4 continues to pivot with subscription services

rev by category - unit4Earlier today, UNIT4 held an analyst call to discuss its full year 2012 results. While overall revenue only rose 4.5 percent, the company was at pains to point out that its transformation to a subscription based business hides the long terms growth. During the formal presentation, the company said that what it describes as ‘subscription and SaaS’ revenue now represents about 10 percent of its overall business. Traditional on premise new license sales represent 16 percent.

Despite the modest amount of revenue from subscription sources when compared to the whole, the company clearly signalled that this is its model for the future. It should come as no surprise then that UNIT4 was peppered with questions about FinancialForce.com, its pure play cloud offering. Numbers from the presentation and discussion:

  • Annual subscription run rate accelerated from €46.8 million to €57 million between June and December 2012.
  • SaaS/subscriptions grew 25 percent in 2012, expected to be 30 percent in 2013. Taking out FinancialForce.com, UNIT4 grew subscription revenues by 17 percent.
  • FinancialForce is on a current €17 million run rate. The company projects this will rise to €70 million by 2015.
  • The company lost €9 million on FinancialForce in 2012 but implied break even by 2015.
  • UNIT4 expects to continue investing in FinancialForce.com from its own resources with no mention of additional external funding.
  • FinancialForce now employs 150 people, many of which are located in the US.
  • Despite being US centric, the company counts customers from 45 countries.
  • FinancialForce.com is now seeing many more enterprise deals.
  • UNIT4 is not averse to seeing FinancialForce.com grow by acquisition.

Commentary

  1. FinancialForce.com has proven that a European applications vendor can go to the US and succeed in the cloud market. This should be welcome and an encouragement to others in the SME space. Xero, BrightPearl and FreeAgent have all made moves in the last year or so to establish a presence in the US.
  2. Having visited the company’s San Francisco offices, met a number of its staff and listened to management’s plans over the last couple of years, my sense is that FinancialForce.com can do very well. Its plans are ambitious but there’s nothing wrong with that in a market where there is plenty of opportunity.
  3. Riding on the back of the Salesforce.com platform has accelerated time to market in a way that is not possible for other vendors who have to build out their own infrastructure. The flipside is that FinancialForce.com is captive to Salesforce.com’s own development. This has, at times, held it back but again, my sense is that as it grows Salesforce.com management will pay more attention to FinancialForce.com’s needs.
  4. While still considered an SME play, the company is making inroads at the enterprise level. That’s important because it elevates the company’s ability to take a seat at the bidding table. In the short term it won’t win too many of those deals and will likely find that it is not sufficiently feature complete in some areas. Even so, that will encourage the company to run as fast as possible to address functional white spaces.
  5. Its acquisition of Appirio’s professional services business in late 2011 has clearly paid off. That line of business continues to be expanded while its relationship with Rootstock for manufacturing also helps to broaden the addressable market.
  6. It was good to hear UNIT4 affirm continued investment in the business. It is always tempting to resist bold investments when you have a significant recurring revenue business. It is encouraging to see that management is transparent about what this means and how it works. The stock chart shows that well run companies that act in this way are rewarded – even when in transition. That bodes well for the future.

Disclosure: FinancialForce.com is an ongoing product strategy client

Why cloud vendors are hard to beat

via recoveringyou

via recoveringyou

Recent conversations around vendor relationships got me thinking about the reasons why cloud vendors are doing so well in relation to the rest of the tech sector. Buzzword bingo and analyst fuelled hype aside, it seems to me that there are certain characteristics that set cloud vendors apart.

Before getting into this, I need to point out that ‘success’ is relative. When we hear that a cloud company has grown (say) 90 percent, then what does that mean? For instance, FinancialForce.com’s results were highlighted in a press release that said:

Within one year, FinancialForce.com increased annual revenue run rate by more than 90 percent, from $9 million in 2011 to $17 million in 2012

Impressed? Of course. But this is only part of the overall UNIT4 annual results announced yesterday and which talked about subscription services revenue (which includes cloud services) at €50 ($66, £44) million run rate. That’s a much bigger number. But even that pales into insignificance when you consider UNIT4’s total revenue for 2012 was €470 ($624, £410) million.

Among the larger players, Salesforce.com showed growth of 34 percent in Q1 of the current fiscal year, raising its outlook for the rest of the year:

The company broke even in the first quarter on revenue of $504 million, up 34 percent from a year ago.

But when you look at the mega vendors, they only have to grow in single digits to surpass the absolute dollar values in revenue achieved by the likes of Salesforce.com. Even so, the financial markets are rewarding the cloud players ahead of the mega vendors. Salesforce.com for instance is valued at around $25 billion on a revenue run rate of $3 billion. SAP is valued at $98 billion on revenue run rate of around $23 million for 2013. A big part of that reward turns on growth but what supports growth?

panoramam type of ERPMany people have taken the view that cloud businesses represent an opportunity to shift capital expenditure to operational expense while making savings. While that might be an attractive argument for cost conscious businesses attempting to navigate a recession, it is only one element in the sales cycle.

Things that matter

Cloud businesses are fundamentally different to traditional software companies and those differences are far less obvious than you might think. Here is what I observe across all sectors:

Cloud vendors understand that even with a three year lock in, common at the enterprise level, there is no guarantee that your customers will renew. Cloud companies therefore have to continually earn your check.

Service matters. Cloud companies obsess over service to an extent you almost never see among traditional vendors. The traditional vendor sells an upfront fee plus a maintenance contract and then more or less walks away. They will dispute this, talking about keeping customers close. But the cloud vnedor relationship exhibits a very different quality.

Culture matters. Like it or not, the mega vendors have acquired something of a reputation for entitlement and being a tad uncaring. Whether it is beating up on a partner who questions the company line or insisting that a customer buys more licenses to get a deal on discount, it boils down to a cynicism that leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Cloud vendors cannot behave that way. They have to treat their customers well. Why? If you don’t treat customers well then you don’t get paid. It’s that simple.

Values matter. All vendors like to talk about the values they bring to the table. But it is the cloud vendors that live them. Ask anyone who has met Dave Duffield or Aneel Bhusri, co-CEOs at Workday. They ooze care for the customer. At the SME level, Chris McGrath, co-creator of Thoughtfarmer recently told me that nothing goes into its solution unless it meets three criteria:  good, wholesome and accessible. You can only believe that when you see it and from everything I have seen, Thoughtfarmer delivers on its promise.

Brand doesn’t matter. If brand mattered then the smaller cloud vendors would not survive and thrive. One of the biggest complaints I hear from cloud vendors is: we’re not known, we don’t get the coverage. Ironically, the mega vendors have image problems. The flip side is that despite their (relatively) small size, when they do get in front of analysts and other influencers, cloud vendors almost always make a great impression. It is interesting that Panorama reports that 26 percent of those surveyed (login required, free sign up) in its latest research say they selected SaaS and cloud ERP. That is significant.

Add it all up and it reads like an unbeatable proposition. Life is never that simple but it’s a compelling thought.

What should buyers consider?

Making a buying decision should never be based upon fluffy stuff. But the relationship between customer and vendor is important. Some say it is the most important factor.

  1. It used to be the case that functionality trumped everything. That is no longer the case in all circumstances. I frequently see customers make decisions based upon the things that matter. They are betting on a better further tied to a solution release cycle with which they can live and thrive. Will you make a present sacrifice for an improved future?
  2. I am increasingly seeing customers who have been loyal to (name your vendor here) questioning whether the cloud players provide a better overall experience. That should be a wake up call. In one case, the customer felt the incumbent vendor had become entitled to a place at the table. They lost out to a functionally inferior solution. There was a lot of money involved. Is your vendor entitled or earning your business?
  3. In the large enterprise, IT is no longer running the show in the way it once was. In the SME space, the professional accountant is no longer as influential as they once were. The ones who remain influential and are growing their businesses are those that have responded positively to the new value propositions that cloud brings. Do you trust your vendor enough to bet on a transformational future?