This time of the year, I buy several packages of assorted candies. Keeps the neighborhood kids who come around on Halloween happy. I happened to check the contents of one pack – it had Hot Tamales, Chewy Lemonheads, Tootsie Rolls, Abra Cabubbles and who knows what else.
Would a 4 year old ask for those? Would their parents want their kids to have them?
And it hit me, enterprise software has become a bit like those assortment packs. I have asked scores of vendor executives why everyone is fixated on analytics and AI and not on functionality. They respond users cannot absorb our pace of feature delivery. In contrast, most customers say they see lots of me-too functionality and very little industry functionality. They are offered pretty analytics. Or tools which invoke grand wizards like Coleman and Pacioli and then underwhelm. And told to look for functionality from partners. Like the candy bag – too much of what customers don’t need, too little of what they would like. Then you have the other kind of bundling. You want SAP S/4? It only comes in the package with HANA. You want Oracle autonomous database 18c? Get ready to also sign up for Oracle’s infrastructure cloud. Or as Larry Ellison says tongue in cheek “only if you are willing to be pay less than you would pay Amazon”. You want Salesforce’s AI Einstein? Sign up for the package with IBM Watson. Take two AIs and call us in the morning.
It reminds me of the quote from Forrest Gump “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” I don’t know – for what companies pay for enterprise software they should be allowed to be a lot more picky. It seems vendors are driven more by marketing advantage with the latest buzzwords than customer needs.
I have a better idea. We should move to a concept around another holiday – Fukubukuro. Around their New Year, Japanese stores sell a "lucky bag” with all kinds of mystery items. But they do so at ridiculously low prices.