Eight Tips For Negotiating The Best Contract With A CRM “Cloud” Vendor

As a consequence of the ever-rising popularity of CRM solutions deployed through the software-as-service model (SaaS), I get a lot of inquiries about pricing and contracting with vendors like Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, NetSuite, RightNow Technologies, and salesforce.com. Sage CRM products (Sage CRM and Sage SalesLogix) are now offered through “the cloud”, and specialty CRM players in the life sciences sector, such as Cegedim Dendrite, StayinFront, and Veeva Systems, also offer this deployment option.

The individuals responsible for choosing to deploy a CRM SaaS solution are often business users, not IT people or solutions sourcing professionals — the director of sales and marketing, vice president of sales, and director of customer service, for example. These business executives are often unfamiliar with the more technical and commercial aspects involved in choosing a SaaS application. Obviously getting a good price is important, but there are additional considerations to keep in mind. Here are some guidelines to help you to negotiate a sound agreement:

  1. Strive for a price lock-in at renewal time. Firms are often able to negotiate substantial discounts when signing initial contracts with SaaS vendors. But these companies don't always consider what happens at the end of the initial contract term. A discount of more than 50% might be offered, but once the contract is up for renewal, you may be in for a surprise if the discount is no longer available. Make sure to have renewal pricing rules stipulated in your contract.
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The partner opportunity in cloud computing - Microsoft WPC

What is the opportunity for Microsoft partners (or other VARs, SIs, ISVs and technologists) in the emerging cloud computing space? Don't think of cloud as a threat but as an opportunity to ratchet up your value to the business my evangelizing and encouraging their transition to the cloud. How? At the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference I addressed this issue in an Expo Theater presentation. Missed it? Now you haven't:

Watch the video here.

Share your thoughts here by commenting below.

- James

It’s Time For I&O To Return To A Growth Agenda

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably sweating your way through a pretty hot summer. We are, after all, on pace for the hottest year on record. And unfortunately things are going to get worse. Why? Because it’s that time of year again: Budget season. That’s right – it’s time to start thinking about 2011 and sweating through all the infrastructure and operations projects that need investment.

Fortunately, this year will be different.

I just wrapped up a report looking at I&O budgets heading into 2011 and the outlook is quite positive (you can find a copy of the report here). In fact, the biggest takeaway for me is that IT leaders tell us they’ll finally break the age-old MOOSE stalemate— setting aside 70% of the budget for maintenance of organization, systems, and equipment (i.e. MOOSE or “keeping the lights on”) and 30% for new initiatives (i.e. “innovation”). This year we expect to see only half the budget dedicated to the MOOSE, the usual 30% going to new initiatives, and a surprising 20% or so set aside for business expansion efforts.

So what does this mean for you? Today’s I&O executives must:

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As Cloud Platforms Battle For Credibility, OpenStack Is Pretty Solid

It seems every few weeks yet another company announces a cloud computing infrastructure platform. I'm not talking about public clouds but the underlying software which can turn a virtualized infrastructure into an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) — whether public or private.

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Microsoft Truly Does Have Its Head In The Cloud – And Wants Its Partners To Join It!

This week, I was at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., and it was all about THE CLOUD. Now, many colleagues argue that Microsoft will be the second-to-last major vendor to show a 100% cloud commitment, saying that “it’s too embedded in its traditional software business,” “it doesn’t understand the new world,” and “it’d be scared of cannibalizing existing and predictable maintenance revenues.” But I remember Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft Business Systems, tell me with a mischievous grin that he’ll probably earn more money from Exchange Online than the on-premise version — “firstly, it’s mainly new business from other platforms like Lotus Notes, and second, I even generate revenues by charging for things like the data center buildings, the infrastructure, even the electricity I use.” That was in Berlin last November. I suspected then that Microsoft did get it but was just getting its platform ready. This week, I am convinced — Microsoft is “all in,” as they say.

And at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, it was driving its partners to the cloud as aggressively as any vendor has ever talked to its partners at such an event. All of the Microsoft executives preached a consistent mantra: “MOVE to the cloud, or you may not be around in five years.”

Microsoft’s cloud-based Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) is already being promoted by 16,000 partners that either get referral incentives for Microsoft-billed BPOS fees or bundle it into their own offerings (mainly telcos). There are nearly 5,000 certified Azure-ready partners. This week, Microsoft turned up the heat with these announcements:

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Selling The Cloud

Many cloud computing services in the consumer space are per se for free. Even sophisticated platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments are coming from most vendors with a free sandbox environment and start charging finally the productive use. The obvious question I hear from many vendors today is how to monetize platforms and applications in the cloud. The situation for established ISVs of business applications can be even worse: The cloud might significantly cannibalize existing license revenue streams. Thus a transformation of existing business models and vendor strategy is anything but easy.

Addressing this challenge, I'd like to point you to a Forrester workshop Selling The Cloud” on 30th September in London.

The workshop will focus on a evaluating your “cloud readiness” and consequently help develop your cloud strategy through the use of a self assessment tool. This is a great opportunity to learn an effective method for improving the business results of any migration to a cloud-based service. You can actually predict which, if any, of your products will be successful in a cloud deployment.

The workshop will be hosted by Stefan Ried, Senior Analyst at Forrester and in case you’re interested, here’s a Web page with an agenda: View Workshop Details.

You can register right on the site or, if you’d like more information, you can contact an Event Sales Representative at +1 888/343-6786 or events@forrester.com

You can also simply leave a comment to this blog, asking any question to the event agenda and value.

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Forrester's Cloud Computing Taxonomy

We just published a new report entitled "The Evolution Of Cloud Computing Markets". It recaps many of the cloud computing market observations from the last two years and categorizes the business models in a consistent taxonomy. Basically all current offerings from pure Infrastructure as a Service, in the upper left, via virtualization tools up to SaaS applications can be categorized by this. We explain the key characteristics of each business model and give vendors guidance to position and communicate their cloud service.

Forrester's Cloud Computing Taxonomy

Beyond the preview on this blog, the full document predicts the future market momentum around:

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