January 26th, 2010 was a black day for the enterprise software business.Late yesterday, Oracle launched a lawsuit against independent support provider (ISP) Rimini Street, alleging 'massive theft' of its intellectual property. Industry analysts had been expecting something like this - Oracle is already suing Rimini Street's predecessor TomorrowNow and was clearly worried that a competitive market would force it to cut the price of its hugely profitable maintenance offering.
Along with its 2009 results, SAP today made another attempt to undo the damage of its clumsy attempt to hike its maintenance % up to Oracle-like levels, by announcing the reinstatement of Standard Support as an option for customers. “SAP’s new support model is a direct response to the many discussions we’ve had with our customer and user groups,” said Léo Apotheker, chief executive officer, SAP.
Software vendors like to claim that their sales proposals are highly confidential, For Your Eyes Only or even, if you prefer the Coen brothers to Bond, Burn After Reading. I help dozens of clients every year with software negotiations, but I cant do that unless they share with me the vendor’s proposal, including price details and contract terms. Many clients are reluctant to do this, worried that doing this might break confidentiality clauses in their agreement.
We often hear about how important enterprise mobility is to businesses. For years ICT events companies have been holding events about "enterprise mobility" and "the future of wireless" etc - and they have filled halls with attendees and sponsors/exhibitors.
But really - is mobility really that important to businesses? Weren't the people with "mobile" in their title the first to go when the global financial crisis hit? And point me to more than a handful of businesses whose business relies on their mobility capabilities.
At yesterday's Influencer Summit, Dr. Uwe Hummel (EVP and Head of Active Global Support) explained to industry analysts why SAP believes so strongly in its Enterprise Support product. In fact, it is so convinced in proactive support and the positive impact on customers' SAP application management and operation costs that it decided to protect them from making the mistake of declining to buy it - by making it mandatory.
We all know how customers reacted to that idea, and how SAP has reconsidered its approach since the initial announcements. Yesterday's session focused on SAP's uniquely innovative program to track the actual benefits obtained by customers using Enterprise Support. SUGEN, the association of independent SAP user groups, agreed 11 application-management-related KPI that it would track at 56 member sites. The first results are now in, and though SAP isn't quite ready to publish them, from what we saw under NDA, there has been a clear and consistent improvement in measures such as 'failed system changes'.
However, even if these results enable SAP to make a convincing argument that enterprise support is beneficial for most customers, it hasn't yet answered the important questions that we've raised on behalf of sourcing and vendor managers:
SAP’s dominant negotiating position is often a challenge for sourcing and vendor management professionals looking to cut costs and avoid pitfalls in contracting. A tough year for SAP with a 40% drop in license revenue in the first half of 2009 compared to last year presents new challenges in negotiating. Has this drop made SAP more flexible in sales negotiations, or more determined to fight for every dollar it can get, hold firmly to standard discount levels and force through its maintenance price hike?
Forrester Research, led by Principal Analyst, Duncan Jones, Senior Analyst, Liz Herbert, and Research Associate, Elizabeth Rose, is preparing to tackle these problems and publish a report on pricing trends and best practices for negotiating with SAP and we need you.
Our report will answer the following key questions:
Over the last few weeks, several Forrester IT sourcing clients have asked us to review and comment on special proposals from SAP that offer an attractive discount and contractual flexibility in return for a large, irrevocable, multi-year commitment. It appears that several SAP sales teams are trying to achieve their annual targets by enticing customers to place firm purchase orders (PO's) now for products and users that they won't need until 2011 or later. This could be a great opportunity for buyers to take advantage of SAP's tough year and get an exceptional deal on software they were going to buy anyway. However, there are risks from over-committing ahead of your roll-out plans, as I explained a couple of years ago in my report, Avoid The Hidden Costs Of Shelfware, which is still as valid today as it was when I wrote it.
The most obvious risk is that delays in the implementation process will mean the licenses you're forced to buy in years 2 and 3 will sit on the shelf for a while until you are ready to deploy them. Worse, you'll be paying maintenance on that shelfware, which could soon cost you more than the extra discount you got on the initial deal.
Sourcing executives are setting their strategic direction for 2010 and beyond and increasingly asking: “What role should we play in SaaS buying decisions?”
Many sourcing executives see SaaS coming into their firms under the radar screen, through divisional, try-and-buy style purchases, often low-cost enough to go largely undetected – at least in their initial phases. However, they also see SaaS’ growing importance as a key strategic initiative in their firms and the trend towards SaaS becoming ubiquitous in the larger software market. Therefore, they want to better understand existing SaaS solutions that are being used in their firms today – where, when, why – and also understand when it makes sense to proactively push SaaS as the best overall solution based on factors such as TCO, flexibility, usability, IT staffing considerations, and upgrades.
by Tim Sheedy
A factor that tends to be considered when choosing an IT service provider is how many project failures they have had – particularly when some of those failures are large, costly, and well-publicized. And if that is not a formal consideration, project failures are often on the mind of sourcing organizations. In fact many companies that I have spoken with over the past 12 months have actively excluded some players from their short list due to their previous failures. These types of metrics tend to work against the large players as they have more contracts and therefore, if they run at an industry average failure rate, they are most likely to have more failures. IBM, as the company that probably does the most IT projects, has the most failures (assuming that their failure rate is the same as that of their competitors) – and this works against them. I have actually heard people say that they would never have IBM in as an IT services partner because of the fact that so many of their projects fail. And this does not only refer to IBM – you could switch in any large IT services vendor’s name here as the sheer number of projects they work on means that they are likely to have more problems too (as very few IT projects go smoothly). If the failure rate is 1 in 10 (and this is just a guess) then a vendor that has undertaken 1,000 projects will have more failures than one who has undertaken 10…
In my humble opinion, focusing on failures or project problems is a short-sighted view. Project failure is rarely the fault of your IT services partner – even if it is, it is your fault for not managing the process effectively and pulling them up before it turns into a failure. The only time when the partner is to blame is when they promise to do something that simply is not possible – and again, they are probably just responding to your impossible requests.