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Enterprise Software, the Cowboy, the Horse and the Dog

 

June 20, 2013

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Bear with me on this analogy that explains how major Enterprise Software/ERP companies view end-user customers.

A cowboy on his horse was crossing the Nevada desert on his way to California. (Perhaps Silicon Valley was his destination). He saw in the horizon, a dog walking a diagonal path. Eventually, the paths crossed. The dog stopped in front of the cowboy and said:"Hello cowboy."

The cowboy said: "Hello, dog." The dog continued on his path while the cowboy sat stupified on his horse. Eventually the dog was out of site.

At this point, the cowboy said aloud: "I didn't know dogs could talk."

To which the horse replied: "I guess you learn something new every day."

Customer Centric ERP Company: An Oxymoron?

The cowboy is much like the typical software manufacturer: superior in every way. Takes credit for things that go right. Can't be blamed for what goes wrong. (Or, has deniability.) Tends to be cavalier (pun intended).

The horse, of course, is the systems integrator doing the heavy lifting. The customer is the dog: to be captive through vendor lock-in. (And, to be pleased with the opportunity to be played with.)

The dog is attached to the ERP supply chain. Some of the dog's needs are recognized by the horse. These demands are filtered by the horse. And, the cowboy pays attention to some of these needs. But, the cowboy dictates what the dog's needs should be. (These are also known as best practices, a prenicious euphemism if there ever was one.)

It is interesting that many large enterprise software companies have "re-discovered" America – by re-discovering customers. Many are rushing to claim expertise in customer experience and customer-centric business processes. Yet, evidence shows that most of these companies still treat customers as a resource to plunder through forced upgrades, increased maintenance costs and software audits.

Meanwhile at OK Corral

Given the marketing hype these days, most observers are likely to see the ERP market as a fight between two principle gunslingers. (Or, families of gunslingers thanks to all of the acquisitions.)

The value proposition for these two gunslingers seems to be the size and shininess of their guns. We are meant to admire these guns for their complexity. And, these guns are so polished that we often fail to notice that they are built on legacy technology – client/server base. The guns are packaged in a way to distract us from that fact.

Notice that these guns are not known for agility.

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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