by Thomas Wailgum

“ERP Undercover”: A Reality TV Series Whose Time Has Come

Jun 10, 2010
Enterprise Applications

Move over housewives and crab fishermen: My new series will feature sales sharks, needy IT guys and delusional project managers.

Here’s what we all need right now, because there certainly are not enough of these today: A new reality TV series!

What’s that, you say? There are already too many of those damn shows (nearly 300, according to, and who really cares about enterprise software?

Take it easy there, Omarosa, and just hear me out: “ERP Undercover” will combine elements of “Survivor,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Amazing Race” and “The Real Housewives of New York City” into one fast-paced and fun 30 minutes every week.

Just see all that the show would offer:

You want intrigue: Witness SAP and Oracle sales reps sweating it out over a million-dollar ERP commission during a Fortune 500 bidding process … “Deal or No Deal?”

You want tension: Watch as the CIO and the business users get enticed by the SaaS sales guy, and then the on-premise sales reps unleash the FUD to win the deal … “Temptation Island”

You want drama: Implementation milestones start to slip and project managers, consultants and vendor reps begin the blame game … “Project Run-away”

You want finger-pointing: Watch as the customer’s IT team assails the lack of experience in the “JV” system integrators and contractors sent to work on the back-end integration work … “The Apprentice”

You want deceit: Behold the lies as the childish customer tries to fib about just how much it misrepresented the state of its infrastructure (in actuality, “cobbled-together with duct tape”) to the implementation team during the RFP process … “The Nanny”

You want spectacle: Watch how tech consultants attempt to soothe-say the customer on project delays, unforeseen technical hurdles and cost overruns … “Extreme Makeover”

You want divas: Revel in the in-fighting among the in-house project managers, developers, architects, analysts and database pros as they jockey for post-launch praise and promotions and try to avoid any blame from the CIO … “Real Housewives”

You want crises: Stare in awe as the software vendor and integrator back-pedal on the technical skills claims they made during the RFP process … “So You Think You Can Dance”

You want celebrities: We’ll have industry experts (such as IT failure guru Michael Krigsman) come in and judge how each implementation is faring: criticizing poor planning, technical strategy and leadership all as it’s in progress … “Fear Factor”

You want action: Witness how the implementation team bludgeons its way to meet the deadline for rollout, cutting corners here, there and everywhere, and leaving out key functionality desired by the business users … “The Amazing Race”

You want high stakes: Watch how the entire implementation team poorly plans the supply chain rollout timeline and then fails to get the system up and running for the upcoming holiday season—resulting in $100 million in lost sales … “The Deadliest Glitch”

And when the $500 million lawsuits start flying around, we’ve got TV Gold! (It’s gold, Jerry, gold!!”)

“ERP Undercover” certainly wouldn’t have any problem signing up sponsors: All those software megavendors, who only have had the opportunity to advertise during pro golf tournaments and the Olympics, would flock to advertise during this must-see event.

Now, I admit, the one glaring problem with my idea is, of course, that most of Middle America wouldn’t have a clue what the hell everyone was talking about. Viewer: What the heck is an ERP? Did he just say an “end-to-end Java-based middleware solution”? NetWeaver…isn’t that the new rock band that Timmy likes? Cloud Computing?! They keep talking about tools, but I haven’t seen one hammer, wrench or screwdriver yet!

And, unfortunately, most of the dramatic in-fighting would sail right over the heads of even the most fanatical and tech-savvy TV watchers, such as when Doug, the integration consultant, confides this to his coworker Bob: “Their people think we’re using an SOA-based backbone for ERP and back-office application integration, but that ain’t happening.” Bob: “Yeah, I know. Such idiots.”

But hey, if aspiring cooks, cranky crab fisherman and sketchy pawn shop owners can get their own reality TV shows, why not the ERP industry!

Call me. I can host. Let’s make a deal!

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