Lessons for Application Vendors Selling to the Enterprise

By Scott Mackey | April 17, 2010

In the area of product management, you can never have enough knowledge about your customers, what they value most, and how your product/service is contributing to their success.

Leading IT market research company IDC recently studied what enterprises need most from application vendors. Their findings confirm all that we’ve been hearing from our customers at Adlib.

And what are the top 3 most important features that enterprises look for from their IT vendors?

  1. Easy to integrate with existing systems
  2. Most cost effective
  3. Easy to customize to our changing needs

Now… does this sound like every claim you’ve ever heard from a vendor? Probably. So, how does an enterprise decipher between lip-service and real value-add products and services?

Explaining Vendor Clichés

Digging into the IDC study does reveal some deeper explanations of what the following clichéd feature should mean:

  • Easy to Integrate”: This is actually more about ensuring that an application becomes an integrated, interconnected application and user experience. For example, if you are forced to choose between adding transparent, new capabilities for your users through vendor A, and saving a day doing the integration with vendor B, Vendor A should be the obvious choice. A better description might be: “easy integration with existing user experiences.”
  • “Most Cost Effective”: Being one of the most common marketing claims doesn’t dilute its importance for technology decision makers. The hard costs are usually fairly straightforward – licensing fees, annual maintenance, services to implement/deploy/train etc. There are other, often significant costs saving opportunities to consider.

Automating a process can allow more work to be done accelerating productivity – often with measurable results. Using a technology that reduces or eliminates error-prone manual data entry, verification and re-work can reduce time wasted by high-value employees. Measuring the time saved for each employee – factoring in their salary – can add up in a hurry.

Besides, automating a process that required manual effort can seriously improve user satisfaction – tough to measure but valuable nonetheless.

  • “Easy to Customize”: I would suggest this is an accurate statement using inaccurate terminology. Our experience tells us that enabling configuration instead of customization allows an organization to more efficiently deploy and adapt to changing needs.

The IDC report mentions that 30% of an organization’s time is spent maintaining custom code. Our enterprise customers demand flexibility but it must achievable without a lot of expensive customization.

Using an innovative approach that leverages the metadata flowing through an organization, along with a configurable rules engine, our customers can quickly adapt to changing requirements without the need to define, design, build, maintain and train on new, custom code. By the way, this configurability not only provides flexibility but reduces overall costs.

The IDC report contains additional information worthy of a follow up post … or two.  Stay tuned.

Don’t forget to share this post