A big luxury during this time of the year is that I can have a siesta free of guilt . As I came down the stairs and turned right to the kitchen nook – I saw my little Golden puppy Ollie at his favorite. “Thinking spot” in the back lawn , acting as if he is figuring out the meaning of Christmas 🙂
And that set me thinking – what is the meaning of Christmas ? And then on to – does Christmas mean anything to the world of Enterprise Software ? I think it does mean something .
To me, Christmas is all about giving , exchanging and sharing . These are not the first three words that normally come to mind when we think of enterprise software world . These things , barring a handful of cases, are (at best ) after thoughts.
Enterprise software world is mostly a place where every company is out to go all the way alone . Partnerships do exist – but usually in a very tactical sense. Just like in politics – there are no permanent friends and enemies in enterprise land either . Those that partnered in the past would go at each other’s throats , and sworn enemies will make bed fellows . I readily admit that I have taken it for granted too for the most part that this is how things ought to be done.
Every vendor in enterprise space swears they will do what is good for the customer – and sadly, it generally translates to doing what THEY think is right for the customer .
This year – I have no direct sales responsibility . Otherwise , Q4 is the time when I get told repeatedly that every deal in progress needs to be made into a bigger deal . Many careers have been made and lost in this annual quest. As I look back in time – the best “deals that were made bigger” were the ones where one vendor gave up some short term business to another one (or a few others ) and went to the customer with a “deal you can’t refuse”. In the very best category are the ones where the customer is part of the deal making process throughout . Customers buy on price when the value cannot be expressed clearly and quantitatively in a way they trust . Trust is the operative word here . When customer and vendor trust each other – deals become boring and routine, and usually bigger . There is nothing I love more than routine and boring deals 🙂
No one software vendor has a portfolio to solve all requirements of a customer – yet, inexplicably it is only an absolute minority of cases where a vendor proposal includes products and services that are from someone else . That happens only when sales leaders of multiple vendors know and trust each other well , or when customers ask vendors to work together explicitly . Nether scenario is anywhere close to common .
Same is true for services . Everyone takes potshots at everyone else at the drop of the hat . Independents will say big SIs are out to get customers , who in turn will do every thing to keep independents away from projects , unless they are subcontracted through the SI itself . Product people will readily point a finger at services people – and vice versa – for every problem irrespective of merit . I have seen it from both sides – and it is exasperating , and funny too occasionally .
I have had this conversation with several software and services leaders over the years . The most common answer I get is “Power” – as in, the company with the most power (most marketing $$, best relations with customers etc) twists the situation to their sole advantage , and won’t share the “spoils”.
In my mind, nothing demonstrates true power like generosity . The ability to be generous – to give away for the greater good – is the ultimate power . This is true in the society we live in – and I strongly believe it should be true in the world of software too . The entire industry can grow by leaps and bounds if companies are a bit more generous with their products and services .
This is not to say competition should be eliminated , or that software should be open sourced all the time , or that profit making is a bad thing . Absolutely not – those are all fine and ok. My wish is only for some peaceful co-existence in the world of enterprise software .
Wouldn’t it be great if a good chunk of the vast marketing budgets of software companies are repurposed to product development , education , customer support etc ? Wouldn’t it be great to focus a little more on making ten things 90% right and resist the temptation of doing 20 things 70% right ? And how refreshing would it be to see messaging that “together we solve the world’s problems” than “my horse runs better/faster/cheaper than your donkey” ?
Will 2014 be the year when enterprise software companies get their Christmas spirit ? I will eat and drink to that .
Merry Christmas to everyone . Have a great holiday season . And more power to the ones amongst you who choose to be generous .