I’m in the process of buying a new car, and I’m trying to apply everything I’ve learned from my research into software negotiation towards getting a good deal. I’m noticing many of the irritating behaviors from the dealers’ sales staff that Forrester’s sourcing and vendor management clients encounter regularly from their software reps. Here is my list of the worst ones, but I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions:
Business users often view IT SVM as a bottleneck to getting new technologies that will make them more personally and professionally productive and that also will help ensure their firm’s competitiveness. Affordable mobile technologies like smartphones (Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iPhone, and Google’ Android are the most popular operating systems), cellular data air cards, network-connected PCs and tablets, etc. make it a lot easier (and hence more tempting than ever) to bypass IT’s seemingly archaic and slow-moving sourcing practices.
As a result, employees are increasingly bringing their own technology into the workplace. Forrester calls this trend “tech populism,” and it’s quickly gaining momentum. It might be a personal laptop sitting on the desk next to the corporate PC, or a personal smartphone that’s loaded up with self-purchased applications and freeware, either or both connecting to the employer’s guest WiFi Internet connection.
Additionally, more and more, traveling employees are leaving their business laptop at the office or at home -- relying instead either on their smartphone for simple email access during one- or two-day trips, complemented by personal thumbdrive memory sticks onto which reference and presentation documents have been downloaded and will be viewed (and possibly manipulated or transferred between multiple noncorporate devices) using a hotel, public kiosk, customer, colleague, or partner’s PC. So much for IT’s security policy enforcement! If a file or document can be downloaded onto a personal external drive, what happens to it afterward is at the discretion of the employee –- who after all usually is just trying to be more productive while taking better advantage of easier-to-use hardware and software tools than those provided by the company.
Forrester received more than 1,000 inquiries on SaaS and cloud services to date in 2010. With SaaS gaining maturity and even becoming the more common way to deploy software in some categories, firms are increasingly opting for SaaS solutions in place of packaged apps.
With the growing uptake of SaaS, Forrester has seen a change in the nature of questions about SaaS. Firms are not only asking basics around the whens and whys of SaaS but they are also asking more strategic questions around SaaS sourcing and SaaS vendor management, as well as how to set up organizational structure and hire the right skills to succeed with SaaS deployments.
Stay tuned for the full analysis of Forrester's SaaS inquiry data for the first half of 2010, to be published shortly.
Also, for anyone interested in a more in-depth analysis of SaaS and cloud services trends and best practices, we are hosting our first full-day workshop on the topic in Forrester’s Cambridge, Mass., headquarters on September 16. For more details about this event, please click here.
Please share your thoughts and connect with me on Twitter @lizherbert.
We’ve all heard software reps blame “revenue recognition” and “Sarbanes-Oxley” as an excuse for not giving an extra discount or contractual concession. IT sourcing professionals may now hear “GSA Rules” and the “False Claims Act” cited as similar justification: “We didn’t give that concession to the government, so we can’t give it to you.” Could that be the worrying unintended consequence of the Justice Department’s action against Oracle: http:/searchoracle.techtarget.com/news/2240019712/US-government-sues-Oracle-for-tens-of-millions-of-dollars?
I can’t comment on the details of the Oracle case, but I’m sure it is complex and two-sided. For instance, I’ve helped clients negotiate reasonable compromises with Oracle to handle special circumstances that won’t apply to many other organizations. These may have involved an extra discretionary discount, if Oracle didn’t have a programmatic way to handle the exception. I wouldn’t expect to get the same concession or discount for another client to whom those special circumstances didn’t apply. For example, this report describes one issue that is particularly important to public sector agencies, but whose impact varies widely: Do Your Software Contracts Permit External Use?
As many readers know, I have a strong interest in understanding the practical realities of innovation and want to help companies define what that "buzzword" means -- what it is, who manages it, and why it's important (see my just-published report on the ecosystem of innovation services providers).
I believe Sourcing and Vendor Management (SVM) can and should play a critical role in the innovation process. However, my biggest disappointment when I speak to many technology vendors, IT professionals, and business users is when they tell me that they avoid working with SVM when purchasing (or in the cases of vendors, selling) a new technology. Fairly or unfairly, they see SVM's involvement as a bureaucratic stumbling block that will stifle their ability to move quickly or pick the technology vendor they want. For these people, SVM acts as a barrier, not an enabler, of innovation.