Where’s my boat? My legacy vendor’s salesperson bought it.

Sameer Gulati
by Sameer Gulati LinkedIn
Sep 20, 2018 12:34:00 PM

The technology stack you choose not only supports growth, it shapes it.

Software is such a integral part of the modern work environment that it impacts all areas of your business, from how you do things, to who you hire.

TLDR Version:

  • Companies are at risk if they don’t adapt to customer desire for flexibility
  • Playing it safe on productivity software can inhibit growth
  • Safety means paying for enterprise-software salespeople’s boats
  • Smart companies are reevaluating legacy software
  • Modern approaches lead to better outcomes.


Adapted from unsplash-logoLance Asper

In a bring-your-own-device (BYOD), constantly-connected-world, our work goes everywhere with us, and the tools we use reflect our outlook and business strategy. The choices a company makes around things employees use everyday—like productivity tools (Microsoft or Google) or hardware (PC or Mac)—signal to the outside world how that company really works.

Do your internal software tools reflect the claims made by your external-facing value proposition and brand? If your marketing proclaims your company and products are innovative, agile and responsive, yet the technology running your core operations was designed more than a decade ago, there may be some cracks in your armor.

We now live “in a world of constant price changes, offers and counter-offers, timed promotions, upselling and cross-selling and constant challenges to brand loyalty.” Companies that hesitate to move towards updated, innovative solutions, risk the ability to keep up efficiently with those demands.

The Dangers of Playing it Safe — Shifting Your Margin to Vendors’ Boats

Everyone’s heard the adage, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM,” and it became popular because it is rooted in truth. The outcome of a protracted software RFP process is choosing the most likely suspect—the old, established, big (and often bloated) player in the market. This is often despite considering a wide array of more innovative vendors, many of whom may be a better fit for your business.

The logic is simple. To the person whose job is on the line to make the final decision, the risk of being judged harshly for a failed implementation seems less, if the vendor they chose was a longstanding industry standard. Plus, odds are the months- or years-long implementations will take so long that the buyer will be far removed from the final result.

What if playing it safe is not only holding you back but also stifling your business? Many IBM salespeople and consultants have boats because people played it safe when purchasing software. Being the safe choice means many legacy, established vendors are slow to innovate, hard to integrate, and result in wasted time and higher costs for their customers.

How you do one thing is how you do everything

Companies often overlook the productivity tools and software their employees use everyday as a source of innovation. Reducing waste here, whether in time, money, or both, frees resources up for greater things.

A great example of innovation through software tools is reflected in the the growing number of companies, including enterprise-level organizations like Nielsen with 56,000 employees, opting for Google’s G Suite, over Microsoft 365. Though Microsoft built huge switching costs over time, since the late 1980s, the only time people need Word today is to go back and forth with lawyers with redlined contracts (everyone’s favorite pastime).

The fluid, accessible nature of Google Docs much better reflects and supports the way the modern workforce works—anytime, any device, simultaneously. These types of transitions can create massive efficiencies and happier employees.

Plus, no one has to think about or manage automatic security updates for installed software or deal with subscription license keys that get lost or corrupted. While there are some trade offs to allowing Google access to our sensitive data, there is a reason many growing companies—and a growing list of large companies—choose G Suite to increase flexibility and decrease cost and operational overhead.

Adapting to the new economy

The move away from traditional ERP systems is an example more foundational to many companies. When ERP became all the rage in the 1990s, it was “intended to create a one-stop shop for payroll, invoicing, HR, logistics, supply chains, general ledger and more.” The prospect of finally getting a unified view by connecting all of your mission critical systems was compelling, and the processes ERP systems supported had a long shelf life. This made the often high upfront price tag and long implementation timelines of ERP systems palatable.

Nearly three decades later, recurring, subscription-based business models are rapidly replacing the discrete product, on-prem business models ERP was originally designed to replace. The processes and concepts around which ERPs were built lack relevance for many modern companies. When was the last time you had to deal with WIP (work in process)?

ERPs designed to track parts for Boeing simply do not translate to the operational needs of many SaaS companies. As companies scramble to differentiate themselves and remain competitive in a fast-changing world, they are facing a new reality. Adaptable systems that enable flexibility in this new economy are critical to keeping up, and those systems tend to be software-as-a-service (SaaS) based.

While all-encompassing, cloud-based ERP systems seem like a safe next step for many organizations, the evolutionary approach will result in sacrificing more flexible and powerful  software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings like the Ordway billing and revenue automation platform that mold to your business and could be the key to innovating your operations.

The heavy customization required to make ERPs work for your business may make them incompatible with best of breed third-party software. This is why some companies are taking a new approach to selecting the software driving their organizations.

“A shift to cloud-based ERP is not only changing how companies access ERP tools but how they construct them as well...Cloud-based ERP vendors build apps that are broken into separate modules that can seamlessly connect. In essence, if you need BI and CRM apps, then you can toggle them on. If you don't need HR management and point-of-sale (POS) apps, then you can toggle them off...Because of this a la carte style of ERP suite building, the question has to be asked: Are fully integrated ERP solutions, cloud-based or on-premises, dead? Can you build one ERP suite with a collection of apps from third parties?”

While moving away from your existing ERP system or considering multiple SaaS vendors may seem daunting, consider the cost of keeping things business as usual. Maintaining ERPs is a drain on IT and engineering. Often, dedicated specialists are needed to manage the software, and there is potential for costly consulting services, in the event you need to update your ERP to match updated processes and business models.

“ERP—even the post-modern variant—fails to address the actually issues for which it was initially intended. In our collective failure as a society to master ERP, other technologies (a la blockchain) will surpass and replace enough pieces of the current ERP landscape to warrant either the total removal of ERP or at least bring about the advent of a post-postmodern ERP that looks nothing like its extant brethren.”

Secure, stable, and affordable software is becoming the norm

Now that SaaS is old enough to vote and drink, many of the concerns that initially caused hesitation to move to the cloud have been addressed. In fact, “SaaS solutions employ security controls and protocols that no individual can afford to implement upon their own network or computers.” Combined with the ability to take advantage of economies of scale, the move to SaaS is a huge win for many organizations.

Moving to a modern architecture means a more nimble framework and a lower cost to serve your organization. Generalized API-driven connections make onboarding and setup more effective and minimize the overhead of working with multiple vendors. With this approach, you ultimately get a system that adapts to your business, not a static system that does not reflect how you really work. Today’s bevy of interconnected SaaS options for all business functions means that what was once the fringe, is now the logical for companies of any size.

It means you will see fewer salespeople’s boats on your local waterway, from the view of your Monterey 295SY. More importantly, beyond technical security, modern SaaS solutions bring a safety that comes with knowing they work just how you need them to work, are affordable, and create a team that is happy you are not burdening them.

Topics: SaaS, operations, pricing


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