Some colleagues have created this nice straw man on enterprise software research. They asked for feedback.
Below are suggestions and improvements from Colabria Action Research. Visit “How Do Enterprise Buyers Research New Software?” for the original post.
The first question/concern is about this remark in the original post, “…traditional research houses (Gartner, Forrester, IDC) are still the strongest sources of unbiased insights and strategic guidance on large enterprise software.” Oh Really?
These organizations are fine of course. Unfortunately, the software ‘guidance’ over the years has led to many expensive IT disasters and billions lost. Sure, they can make a good reference point. However, basing a decision on their ‘strategic guidance’ is a huge mistake. Remember, they all have consulting units. Do you really believe their insight is ‘unbiased?’
Besides, who buys ‘large enterprise software’ anymore? Sure there are huge cloud deals out there, but mostly it’s politics, vendor lock-in, tradition, cronyism, etc. that drives these huge decisions.
Primary, rigorous, university research is good but it is rare too.
The straw man chart is great because it highlights the really important driver of ‘Professional Networks and Communities.’ For enterprise technology research, this may even be a lot bigger than depicted. However, the following important changes are needed.
Colabria recommends to remove ‘Social Network’ from the chart. Every bubble on the chart is a social network. The authors probably mean social network services (SNS) like Facebook or Twitter. It is important to be precise. Furthermore, no one is making “large enterprise software” decisions based on their Twitter feed.
Another critical but absent constituency is ‘Opinion Leaders.’ Opinion leaders are often those irascible staff folks that are really calling the enterprise software shots. They’re usually seasoned individual contributors with a hot-line to the executive suite. They make a huge difference.
The straw man is missing the all-important ‘Social Proof’ too. That’s a catch all phrase for the Bystander Effect, Herd Mentality, Bandwagon, Tipping Point, Copycats, etc. Basically, it’s people assuming actions of others to reflect/drive their own decisions or actions. It may not be research per se, but it is very powerful and pervasive.
Thus, it be good to move ‘Friends, Peers, Colleagues’ and ‘Professional Networks and Communities’ way up-and-to-the-right. ‘Social Proof’ and ‘Opinion Leaders’ need a generous place in the upper-right too.
There must also be a place for ‘Innovators’ – the tiny population of users that try new stuff. Experimentation is an important part of research. This is needed to be in-keeping with the well-established technology adoption lifecycle (the TALC).
Finally, the other big opportunity is the title, “How Do Enterprise Buyers Research New Software?” Rather, this need to be, “How Do Enterprise Users Research New Software?”
Users and how software is used is what matters. Enterprise Buyers are notoriously bad at picking software solutions. Consequence? No one uses the stuff. Massive failures of ‘well-researched’ enterprise software are legion. IT Procurement processes for software solutions, sans users, is a cruel, long-standing joke.
Enterprise software procurement is changing fast. It depends on users. (Gasp!) It is complex, emergent, self-organized and fast moving. The traditional five-year IT cycles are now five minutes.
If you want to research new enterprise software go down to the lobby. Wait for a new hire to come to work. Ask them to open their purse or backpack. Ask for a look at their Smartphone. It alone will reveal the future of enterprise software.