Thursday, February 07, 2008


Ways to confuse software vendors...

I suspect that you know I come in contact with lots of software vendors. Here are some of the questions I ask...

I really get annoyed with well-rehearsed thinly veiled chock-a-block eye candy sales pitches that lack substance. The formula for technobabble nowadays seems to be to mention Gartner as part of your opening, followed strongly by rattling off familiar names of Fortune enterprises without providing any context.

Over the last several years, I have been the lone voice in the wilderness attempting to counter the conspiracy by asking one and only one question to break the monotony of the humorless monotone. Of course the questions vary over time, but I figured I would share some of the questions I ask in hopes that you to can help not only change the conversation, but the value proposition for us all.

Initially, I started to ask vendors what was their interaction with firms such as Redmonk, The 451 Group, Nemertes, Elemental Links and the like. It is well assumed that you are already working with Gartner so nothing can be gained by talking about it. Working with Gartner is like a tax that every vendor must pay with the real question being how much value is derived. At some level, I am looking for insight and this is best accomplished by working with smaller boutique analyst firms.

My question over time morphed into acquiring about what software does the vendor not only use but contribute to in terms of open source as the notion of community orientation is a great predictor towards long term relationship. Earlier last year, I changed the question to start asking something more simplistic such as sending me the URL of your CTO's blog which tends to generate the most heartache as vendors know they need to participate deeper as blogging helps build both community and marketing. I guess some of them feel kinda dumb that they aren't putting aside the proper time.

The 2008 perspective says that we need to stop focusing on features of products and to start focusing on whether software is written securely. The next time you have a conversation with a BPM or ECM vendor, ask them where on the roadmap is support for externalizing authorization or supporting Single Signon via standards? It is apparent to most that remembering yet another set of credentials is fugly to force upon a customer and if end users can place enough guilt on folks, hopefully the security posture will get much better...

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