Friday, June 06, 2008

Vendor need to adopt "Common Sense" Strategy

A lot of vendors are jumping on the band wagon about the latest jargon such as SOA, Web 2.0 (or Enterprise 2.o), BPM and now WOA(?). It does make sense from a marketing point of view, however they also need to adopt a "common sense" approach.

Following are a few of suggestions to the large ISVs (Independent Software Vendors).

The Platform is the application:
This is true and that a majority of IT organizations are demanding, starting right from the CIO down. This is true not only for enterprise solution but also for consumer solution, resulting in all major Internet (what do we call these companies now? ) companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, eBay and are taking this approach. For this discussion I shall limit it to the large Enterprise ISVs.

All the major ISVs have announced and invested heavily in developing their next generation application based on a unified middle ware. The message I am hearing from these vendors is that they will support the current version for quite a while (so if you have PeopleSoft 8.x you may be fine until Oracle decides to pull the plug) but they do expect you to upgrade (migrate - and yes! this cost you a bundle!!!!) to the next generation.

This approach really puts the IT organization (customers) in a spot, more so from people skills point of view. First, it will take time for the current staff (or SI partners) to come-up to speed with the new tools sets and second, the early adopter may pay the price to finding major bugs in the field, especially for their mission critical applications such as Finance, Order Management, Supply change, etc. Don't want to have major problems there. I would like to once again repeat that vendors need to incorporate SOA infrastructure in legacy application. If this does not work for them, they why not support the existing (legacy) applications from the next generation development ?

Lets take the case of an IT organization using PeopleSoft 8.x. Why not provide the PeopleSoft developer to developer to develop/modify existing work flow/application logic using their SOA Platform development tool? Agreed Oracle will have to invest in making this backward compatible for deploying the solution to PeopleSoft 8.x. However, this approach will get the existing support engineers up to speed on the latest tool resulting in faster adoption of the next generation platform.

End-to-End Life cycle Management:
Most ISVs, especially the large ones, do not provide an end-to-end life cycle management for their product stack(s). Of course, they will definitely claim that they do - but not really. How many software companies provide the capability for CIO and the IT leadership team keep track of all their major investments? also, how many of them provide the capability to get realistic feedback of the solutions deployed? None - as far as I know. Most of the Strategic IT organizations have been able to put this in place by procuring multiple solutions (IT Governance tools, EA tools, BPM, Enterprise Monitoring and Management Solutions, BI, etc.) and a lot of $$$ to stitch them together. Wouldn't it be great if the ISVs put something together that could be plugged in? Even if it just only for their solutions?

Provide Complete Solutions:
ISVs must provide complete solutions - not just point solutions that requires a lot of time and resources to customerise the solution. Lets take the case of Master Data Management (MDM) - all major vendors provide this solution (and one of them has 4 MDM products, including UCM) but is only a point solution. Why don't the ISVs integrate their MDM solutions with at least all their major (if not all) applications such as CRM, Order Management, Finance, Supply chain and Customer Support? Also, why not also provide the customer with a list of best practices and governance models (for free)?

It may may help if we all collectively push back on the large ISV and also have their Products Managers from ISVs spend 3 months in an IT Organization. Just a thought.
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