Almost to the day, two decades ago, I got a recruiting call. A few weeks later I was a Gartner analyst and over the next 5 years was part of the roaring 90s of ERP projects stoked by Y2K, reengineering, client/server architectures and other drivers.
Last week I drove with 3 other analysts at the Plex Summit. They reminded me I was the youngest in the car. Each has vivid memories, from their varied perches, of that phase. I am going to the Oracle HCM event this week, and notice the Diamond sponsors are Accenture, Deloitte and PwC. Brings back memories of my alma mater and other Big 8 firms.
There are throwback signs every where. That’s goodness in those memories if customers learn from history. Buzzwords from that era are showing up again…so here comes the reminder “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
“The Suite always wins”
History - The Suite salesperson won. The Suite buyer ended up with shelfware. Which funded acquisition of similar functionality which was supposedly already in the Suite. Whose integration took another few years. In meantime, the brochures continue to talk about “integrated, wall to wall…”
History - You thought that had something to do with payback on your investment? It was French for King. You anointed several minor princes in software and outsourcing world. And “Value Engineered” their portfolios.
History - Few of the outsourcers/SIs have acquired Chinese construction companies who can raise a skyscraper in 15 days. They are still incented to bill by the hour, work 4 days a week, and charge you 25 to 30% of fees in travel expenses.
History - For a brief moment in the 90s, enterprise software caught up in look and feel with your PC apps. Since then it has lagged your social apps, your mobile apps, and increasingly your car and home apps. Try screaming at your enterprise software. Make a nasty gesture. Unlike your car or Nest, it won’t even understand you are not happy.
History – the phrase was perfected by consultants who had never set foot on a shop floor. In a warehouse. In a delivery truck. Entered a multi-line customer order with a unique promotion code. Explained what negative inventory means. And IFRS. And Octroi. And SPED.
History - The outsourcer proposals were splattered with terms like Six Sigma and CMM Level 5. In the reference calls, the customers laughed uncontrollably when you asked how much year on year improvement they actually saw.
History - User groups sold you on what your fees bought – training sessions and social events. But ask them for a catalog of their “victories”. Where have they successfully lobbied with the vendor for lowered pricing or significant new functionality? Where have they publicly disagreed with the vendor? Usually a very short list. But the margaritas at the events are pretty good.
History – Last time customers depended on a MQ prepared by some guy named Vinnie, they ended up spending $ 300 million. Each.