Q: Is there enough energy to effectively resist the shift toward the emergence of a Microsoft-type vendor because of the complexity of enterprise solutions, economies of scale, mergers and acquisitions, and failures in the enterprise technology space?
A: The answer to this question rests with you and your peers. Many CIOs answer no. As a result, the demand side has become complacent and has taken a defeatist point of view. The movie Network (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”) comes to mind and gives us a sense of optimism. Your actions can make a difference because markets are transformed by the combined impact of many small changes in buying behavior. We are confident that new vendors will emerge because they can see, as we all do, that people are paying too much for too little. The future vendors will probably not be the ones that are dominant today-for the reasons articulated in Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma. Successful companies have a difficult time retiring their current products and marketing practices in spite of smart management and healthy R&D budgets.
Q: How much of this “abuse” is purely the domain of the software vendors? How much comes from consultancies that continue to push the enterprise software agenda, sometimes regardless of client needs? Despite all the current hype about applying their deep industry knowledge, the majority of consulting houses make the lion’s share of their revenue from enterprise software implementations.
A: Your experience is in line with Mike Clifford’s and many others. As we all know (but sometimes forget in the heat of the battle), consultants and vendors work for their shareholders-not yours. It’s their job to try to sell you what they have (and sometimes don’t really have), and it’s your job to know what you need, select your vendors and define transaction terms that work for you.
To see more reader questions and answers from Susan H. Cramm, go to www.cio.com/leadership/agenda.html. Cramm is founder and president of Valuedance (www.valuedance.com), an executive coaching firm in San Clemente, Calif. You can contact her at email@example.com. Mike Clifford is vice president and CIO of Whole Foods Market.