Cloud computing and SaaS models have turned IT into a service industry. That means choosing software vendors is choosing who to build a relationship with.
Think about your favourite café.
The one you go to every day for your morning latte.
You first went there because a friend told you the coffee was great. When you walked in, they were playing California Soul by Marlena Shaw on the stereo. You love that song. The coffee was great. You complimented the barista. They smiled and thanked you. As time went on, you got to know their name: Ross. You almost became friends. When you changed job and it wasn’t on your route anymore, you still popped in on weekends.
Your weekday chain café just isn’t the same.
Relationships are the cornerstone of any good service business. In the past, buying software was like any other capital expenditure. You have a problem, you identify the solution, you find who’s selling it cheapest and buy it. The rest you do yourself. But the IT business has changed. Software has become more of a running cost. A living purchase that changes over time. Keeping pace with the exponential acceleration of technology – getting the most out of every update – has become a competitive necessity. Software has become a service business. Where you develop a relationship with the people you buy it from. Because the purchase doesn’t end when you get the installation files.
You’re not going to get 70s soul and a medium roast from your software vendor, so what should you be looking for next time you invest in your IT?
Complex software systems – like PLM systems – are endlessly configurable.
They’re designed to be infinitely mouldable to the organisation they’re placed in. The problem is that such impressive configurability comes with a hefty complexity cost. Figuring out how best to integrate such complex software into your existing systems and processes – and where it would be better to replace them – requires a deep knowledge of the software in question. A detailed knowledge of every possible capability and configuration. The kind of knowledge that takes time to build up. You know your existing systems and processes inside out. You need someone with the same understanding of the new software. Then, you can fit the two together. Far quicker than doing it yourself, and without the risk of misconfiguring something that’ll come back to bite you later.
People like what they know. Especially when they’re busy.
It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them the new system will make their lives easier eventually, right now they know what they know. Why learn something new when you’ve got a deadline today and you can use what you’re used to? With the intuitive user interfaces and contextual help of modern software, it’s relatively easy to pick up a new program. But that doesn’t mean a guided tour from someone who knows it back to front won’t help you make the most from it. Your ideal software vendor should be able to provide training to get everyone up to speed quickly. The faster they learn it, the more willing they’ll be to embrace it.
And they’ll be better versed in the advanced features it might have taken them weeks to discover themselves.
As software has moved into the cloud, updates have gotten quicker.
Rather than the old update-once-per-year model, updates often come every month. Sometimes more. This, coupled with your own business development, makes it invaluable to have someone on-hand to help guide you through the best way to adapt your systems. Should you roll-out every update? Can you skip a few? How do you use the new features? Is there an add-on that could optimise the processes of your new service? Your IT department has better things to do than consider every update.
And they have a less-than-perfect knowledge when searching for new solutions.
What we’re saying is that we’ve entered an age of IT where to get the most out of your software systems, you need a relationship with the people who serve them to you. Computing has moved on from an industrial model. You don’t buy computers and the software they run the way you buy machines for a factory. It’s a service model. It’s about people. And that means choosing a software vendor is not so far from falling in love with your favourite café.
What’s your favourite song? We’ll stick it on the playlist for next time you come in. It’ll go perfectly with your frothy cappuccino and bespoke PLM implementation.
We’re in it for the long haul.