Last week I met with Fernando Alvarez, SVP for Mobile Solutions at Cap Gemini in Paris. We discussed the second wave for enterprise mobility (see my blog on “the mobile workplace – is your company ready to replace the PC?”) which has been held back by long sales cycles for mobile device management. Fernando stated that as an industry, “we have spent too much time wrestling with features and functionality of mobile device management. But this is just an enabling service for the productivity wave, no longer a value proposition in itself. Since we realized that prices would rapidly decline, we went ahead and commoditized this market. We want to move on to more crucial issues on the value chain.” He actually launched a very aggressively priced mobile device management service based on SAP Afaria and Amazon AWS for € 1 per month in May 2013.
The view that it is time to move beyond mobile device management and into innovative productivity scenarios is shared by Sven Lange, Vice President Partner Ecosystem & Expansion with SAP with whom I met a day earlier.
He mirrored the opinion of Fernando Alvarez. “Finally, we get over this mobile device management deployment hurdle. More customers are now actively exploiting real business grade alternatives to popular consumer services including SAP Mobile Documents instead of drop box. We have been waiting for this productive stage and it is here now. This is where we can help IT leaders to educate their business peers on the value of the sourcing decisions they make.”
The IT services industry is being challenged on two opposite fronts. At one end, IT organizations need efficient, reliable operations; at the other, business stakeholders increasingly demand new, innovative systems of engagement that enable better customer and partner interactions.
My colleagues Andy Bartels and Craig Le Clair recently published thought provoking reports on an emerging class of software — smart process apps — that enable systems of engagement. In his report, Craig explains that “Smart process apps will package enterprise social platforms, mobility, and dynamic case management (DCM) to serve goals of innovation, collaboration, and workforce productivity.” In other words, smart process apps play a critical role in filling gaping process holes between traditional systems of records and systems of engagement.
Many clients ask me for help in dealing with very large software companies who, in their opinion, always seem to have the upper hand in negotiations. "How can I make myself less dependent on X?" they ask, or "how can I cut the amount I have to pay Y each year?" They're CIOs or sourcing professionals who are used to being able to push suppliers around, threatening to kick them out if they misbehave, and they struggle to accept the reality that their normal tactics won't work with the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP. My advice is, get used to it. These companies have grown so big and profitable that they will dominate the business technology market for years to come. Yes, they will face competition from younger companies, but they generate so much cash and have such strong embedded positions in so many enterprises that they can always acquire the upstart, or develop a product that beats it in most deals.
However, the software giants' huge power isn't necessarily a bad thing. Their scale enables them to spend far more money on development than their smaller rivals, and this usally results in excellent innovative products. Yes, they can also be inflexible, siloed, frustrating, bureaucratic - but when it comes to software development, size matters. So there really isn't much point in questioning whether the world would be a better place if these companies were much smaller than they currently are. Instead, we should accept reality and learn how to survive and thrive under their rule.