It Doesn’t Matter How Strategic The IT Vendor Is …

This post originally ran on April 1, 2010, which is ironic as this post was as serious as you can get.
And, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is technology selection week as it’s that time of year when many of you will be renewing your technology solution provider agreements or looking for new ones. Since SI has already given you a lot of the secrets in these classic posts, I’m reposting them to set the foundation for my Technology Selection 2012 post. So be kind, refresh, and rewind.

It Doesn’t Matter How Strategic The IT Vendor Is … it matters how strategic the solution they offer is! I shouldn’t have to point this out, but after encountering a recent article in Intelligent Enterprise on the 10 most strategic IT vendors which basically just tooted the horn of the usual suspects (IBM, SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, HP, Teradata, VMWare, and EMC), I feel that I have to because most of their primary offerings — namely operating systems, hardware, networking products, and virtualization software — are not strategic to your business at all! Even relational databases and ERPs on their own are not strategic anymore. Everyone and their dog has a database these days, and ERP is open source software now (think Compiere). You can even get a professionally managed solution with unlimited records in the cloud for as little as €99 a month from providers like Erply.

And just because no one ever got fired for buying IBM, it doesn’t mean it was the right decision. The value isn’t in the name, it’s in the solution that is being delivered and the returns you are able to generate. If SAP or Oracle was everything you need, why would
Global Data Mining,
all the way through Wallmedien, and hundreds of other companies have successful businesses when they all have solution offerings that are fundamentally based on the analysis of transactional data stored in relational databases? Because the “strategic” is in the advanced analysis that the big-name vendors offering old-school solutions don’t have yet, or only have through acquired solutions (as SAP has acquired Ariba and IBM has acquired Emptoris since this post first aired).

So don’t get suckered by the name or the market size. What’s important is what the solution can do for you and whether or not the vendor is financially stable and will be around to support you on it. If the ROI is there and the vendor’s not going anywhere, after confirming that the solution meets your (global supply management) needs, you go for it. Simple as that!