The Dark Side of Enterprise Software

lanir-shachamI’m renovating my house—opening a door to the deck and garden area and arranging my garden a bit. Although it’s not a huge project, it still requires the coordination of a few contractors. Now, I can complain and moan all day about how the contractors are not returning my calls, give me excuses, or don’t show up – but this isn’t new territory. The prime contractor is a great guy – he’s very talented, has very fair prices, and is simply a happy and friendly guy. The only problem is he has no ability to manage time and work doesn’t begin whey he says it will…my point is that nothing can replace good service. You may have an amazing product and great prices – but service is everything. For great service I am willing to pay more. Much more. My contractor is about to lose the project because of this, although in all the rest of the skills he is very highly ranked.

You’d expect the same will happen in the software business. Guess what – you are wrong! Poor service, bad software, nothing to show – and still enterprises keep buying the same piece of junk from the same vendors – technology and service – that they bought last time around. Oh, I forgot, only they pay more the next time around. It’s amazing. I see it every day, I just witnessed it again this week and it’s been on my mind.

I’m starting to realize there are two different markets. There’s the open, free, “everything goes market,” in which amazing services such as salesforce.com or bugzilla are created, bring valid business models – online service or open source – and customers eventually get value for their effort, whether the effort is dollars or time invested – they get value. We use both of these services in Correlsense, and others as well. This is the kind of market that creates Google and Facebook. The land of the free.

But in a different place still lurks the dark side of the software industry. This is the place where huge seven to eight digit deals are closed by shaking hands and only God knows what other things are shaken as well—and these deals have nothing to do with technology, innovation, value or service. They have to do with personal interests, “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” and they probably are justified somehow but they make no sense. In fact, when you look at them closely, they really don’t make sense, and there are those that try to shout it out loud – and they can find themselves on the street as a result. I’ve witnessed that as well.

It’s monkey vs. gorilla world. If you look back at my first post I wrote “I am a freaking monkey!” I still am, and proud of it. But sometimes I really feel that in enterprise software, it’s gorilla country with gorilla rules, and these rules are played out not just by the vendors—as I always believed—but also by the customers. The actual enterprises that are supposed to love buying great software with great service and pay less money…well guess what? That’s not how it plays out.

I may be naive, but this really hit me only this week.