Does a software vendor have the right to tell you how to run your business? The answer is categorically no.
But all too often software vendors set themselves up as business advisers to ‘recommend’ how their customers’ business should be run. But there is an obvious vested interest in this approach, as they try to fit their business operations and requirements to the software solution they are trying to sell.
Many business intelligence (BI) vendors have built analytic applications aimed at companies that want to buy an off-the-shelf BI application to improve the running of their businesses. These applications have been designed to fit specific problems in specific industries with the aim of delivering ‘best practice analysis applications’ for these problems. This is like saying, “I will give you the answer to your question before you’ve asked it, and by the way I know the questions you want to ask before you do.”
But is this really the role of a BI software vendor? Software vendors that provide ERP or CRM solutions have also come to market to provide VARs with answers to questions before they ask them.
Vendors have developed their analytic applications to offer a fixed offering based on their respective solutions. However, such predefined reports will not always fix the problem for the customer. This presumption is dangerously restrictive.
The term ‘best practice’ is often used. But can a software vendor really offer best practice, or is this the domain of the consultant? Best practice should surely be to work closely with partners to build applications to solve industry-specific problems, while maintaining that the customer can adapt these solutions easily when the business or systems change.
After the customer, partnerships and alliances are the most important relationships vendors can build. A vendor can offer the technical expertise to develop the technology and provide the technical support. Partners offer customers invaluable strategic performance management consultancy and vital guidance on industry best practice for their specific market sectors.
Customers benefit from the convenience and continuity of dealing with a single supplier that brings together other industry leaders to deliver the best possible solution to meet their individual requirements. Partnering ensures the best combination to maximise business productivity and efficiency.
Companies should run their own business, and any software they buy in should allow them to do this successfully themselves. The success of each process will become diluted only if offered by a single source that cannot truly offer all-round expertise.
Jason Bissell is channel manager at QlikTech UK.
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