Wednesday, September 12, 2007
So, when should software vendors sell directly to the business and skip IT?
The one movement within IT is the adoption of enterprise architecture and service orientation. Folks are busy at work planning out their strategies, understanding the value of business architecture and mapping out the notion of reusable service catalogs. Likewise, they are also embracing the notion of rationalization whereby they are attempting to eliminate functional, data, platform redundancies.
If we understand not only that words mean things but that perspectives are different then another problem space emerges. One of the thinly veiled chock-a-block eye candy Powerpoint that on one level makes it seem as if the vendors value proposition is in full alignment can actually from the perspective of the enterprise architect appear as a trojan horse.
Consider within the marketplace that there are a variety of products that claim to interoperate within an enterprise SOA but yet few of them talk about how they help enable creating SOAs that feel anything like business architects would expect them to and in essence are merely wrappers upon existing systems that may or may not expose the right levels of granularity.
For IT to have a sustainable SOA that goes above and beyond integration, they have to be more thoughtful in terms of what truly comprises a service. Enterprises understand that sometimes it is better to wholesale rewrite things to the right level of granularity than to reuse something simply because it exists.
Part of the sales pitch is incrementalism which feels good to business customers because they can get things faster while on another level feels fugly to enterprise architects because they know that incrementalism got them to the state of disillusionment amongst the IT portfolio. Enterprise Architects understand that IT is way too expensive and it got to be that way not in one big bang but one step at a time.
I would recommend to vendors who practice these patterns to also consider pursuit of enterprises who may have enterprise architects but don't really know what to do with them. If the corridors of the enterprise is filled with IT executives who came up through the technical ranks then I would cross them off my list as they would quickly spot deficiencies in the story a lot quicker than those in enterprises whose IT executives who haven't written a single line of code in their entire lifetime.
Pay careful attention to where the enterprise architects are on the foodchain for an organization. If they are reporting to a manager-level then by all means, bypass them. If they are reporting to a VP-level position then cross them off your list.
I would also recommend to vendors to use several of the social networking tools such as LinkedIn to figure out how well connected the folks you are dealing with are to other enterprises. If they appear insular in their thinking, then they are ripe for exploitation. However, if they have lots of contacts then they may actually use some of them to better understand how your value proposition truly worked in other customers.
While I am not sure that I may have fully answered the question asked of me, I do hope that I have pointed a few vendors in the right direction...
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