In the midst of a myriad of new technology solutions available as well as new pricing mechanisms — and the need for those solutions to achieve faster time to market — how can businesses avoid making mistakes in their software purchases? I asked six software experts for their opinions on the worst mistake business software buyers can make in 2015. Here is their advice.
Mistake: Not buying future-proofed solutions
— Dan Miller, general manager of software vertical and vice president of finance, NetSuite
The worst mistake buyers can make in the year ahead is to focus on software that will solve today’s problems. This is shortsighted and has left many companies confronting painful re-implementations or, worse yet, software that holds the business back. Software buyers today need to account for the future.
The pace of change isn’t letting up. Already we’re seeing product companies morph into services companies and vice versa. Companies need software that is future proofed. That means software that is agile enough to adjust to the constant change they confront, whether that’s entering new markets, adapting to new competitors, shifting business models or rapid growth to a public offering. That can be difficult to assess, but software solutions that have demonstrated a proven ability to grow and evolve with businesses undergoing rapid growth or change is a good place to start.
Mistake: Buying what everyone else is using
— Rob Reid, CEO, Intacct
“Don’t believe the hype” has been a pop culture catchphrase for a generation and rings especially true for software buyers in 2015. The best advice I can give is to buy solutions to solve your biggest business challenges but start with the end in mind. The worst mistake you can make is to let someone else dictate what those challenges and outcomes are through their endless hyping of “everyone else is using it; so should we.”
Most business can use technology for competitive advantage. But if you adopt what everyone else is doing, you are not helping your organization maximize your position. Develop an ideal solution for your business and focus on it instead of just going with what others are doing.
Today’s big data solutions, for example, can be very valuable if you have quality data and actionable analytical conclusions. However, only the rarest of individuals and solutions can make good data out of bad, find signal in all the noise or establish causation instead of mere correlation. Before digging deeper into your business, decide what you are looking for and what you’ll do once you find it.
The best business solutions give you the tools to investigate today’s big issues and are flexible enough to help solve the next round of your biggest challenges. And the best software vendors understand your problems before trying to sell you a solution.
Mistake: Relying on traditional purchase criteria checklists
— Suresh Chandrasekaran, SVP North America, Denodo Technologies
The worst mistake business software buyers can make in 2015 would be to select software based on traditional purchase criteria checklists and only from approved software vendor lists. Why? For most leading companies, 70 percent of their revenue streams will come from new customers in new markets, products and segments in 10 years. So buying based on past criteria does nothing to enable their business future.
To avoid this mistake, software buyers should:
- Focus on capabilities that are important for future business enablement as much as for current project needs. Ask business stakeholders about open-ended requirements like “What capabilities would enable you to transform the customer experience?”
- Look for technologies that emphasize agility as the #1 benefit and differentiator while satisfying minimum requirements for performance, security, governance, etc.
- Adopt disruptive collaboration. Choose software that enables or challenges the status quo way of doing things yet is able to connect with and leverage existing investments and resources in a new way.
- Look for vendors that are innovative and passionate to succeed in their field. The vendor should have deep product/solution knowledge and be able to transmit best practices, provide responsive support and train the customers to build and sustain new in-house capabilities.
Mistake: Not having a unified strategy for mobile app design and development
— Paul Giurata, managing partner, Catalyst Resources
The single worst mistake is to not embrace a unified cross-device strategy. Every company by now should have some kind of mobile solution. But that is not sufficient. Companies need to have a unified approach to user experience and application design for every device wherever their users might be (i.e., desktop/Web tablet and smartphone).
Instead of releasing versions sequentially for each device, likely managed by different design and development teams, instead you should strategize, design and develop everything up front to create a continuous cross-device experience using modular panels of functionality. You should release and update all cross devices simultaneously. This gets products to market sooner, reduces development costs and improves user adoption and, consequently, revenue.
Mistake: Trying to keep pace while using on-premises, perpetual-license software
— Jeff Kaplan, managing director, THINKstrategies
The worst mistake would be failing to recognize that traditional, on-premises, perpetual-license software can no longer keep pace with the rapidly changing requirements of today’s businesses. It is imperative that companies adopt more agile, SaaS/cloud alternatives that enable them to capture, collate and share real-time data across their organization, partner ecosystem and customer community.
Mistake: Not replacing legacy systems with modern analytics infrastructure
— Mike Hoskins, chief technology officer, Actian
There’s no denying it — the data tap has been turned on and will never be turned off. The flow of data is everlasting and ever expanding. The worst mistake businesses can make in 2015 is to stick their heads in the sand and think that their legacy analytics infrastructures that were designed in the 1970s will survive the never-ending deluge of data. Legacy infrastructure will crumble under the weight of data.
If organizations do not adopt a completely modern analytics infrastructure, they will fail. They will be left on the sidelines while their competitors steal their customers, out-predict others in the market, create new sources of revenue and solve problems before they occur.
The good news is, the technology exists. It’s out there and ready to be implemented today. Organizations should:
- Look for software that is hardware agnostic.
- Think in terms of both design-time and run-time agility. Choose technology that is designed for and natively operates in the modern era but has a mature, robust management layer and ecosystem.
- Choose architectures that deliver game-changing price-performance capability. Avoid traditional architectures that can only scale through expensive “big wallet” approaches that consume alarming amounts of pricy hardware and software.
Suresh Chandrasekaran is senior vice president at Denodo. Throughout his career in product management and marketing roles at Vitria, Alta Vista, Compaq and as a management consultant at Booz Allen, Suresh has helped businesses leverage information through the medium of technology to deliver a competitive advantage. He speaks frequently at conferences on technology and its business impact, drawing from 15+ years of experience in leading integration middleware and Web companies. Contact him at email@example.com.
Paul Giurata is the managing partner for Catalyst Resources, a user experience and application design firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. He and his teams have worked on more than 450 software projects in Financial Services, SaaS, Life Sciences / Biotech and mission-critical systems. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Hoskins is chief technology officer at Actian. He directs Actian’s technology innovation strategies and evangelizes trends in big data, and cloud-based and on-premises data management and integration. Mike is a respected thought leader who has been featured in TechCrunch, Forbes.com, The Register and Scobleizer. He speaks at events worldwide including Strata, DeployCon, and Structure Big Data. Mike received the AITP Austin chapter’s 2007 Information Technologist of the Year Award for his leadership in developing Actian DataRush. Follow Mike on Twitter.
Jeff Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies, founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace and host of the Cloud Innovators Summit conference series. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Daniel Miller is general manager of NetSuite’s software vertical and vice president of finance. He brings over 25 years of professional experience to NetSuite, most recently as SVP and CFO of Nexant where he managed accounting and IT corporate service groups, and led financing initiatives to support strategic growth plans. He began his career as a senior accountant with Deloitte & Touche, subsequently serving as senior treasury manager for Genentech and corporate controller for Extreme Networks before moving to executive roles.
Robert Reid is CEO of Intacct Corporation, a leading provider of cloud financial management and accounting software. With more than 30 years of experience in the software industry, Rob has a proven track record of driving explosive growth at innovative companies, and has demonstrated a deep expertise in bringing cloud computing to the world of business applications.