Let’s face it; we’ve all had to deal with pushy salespeople.
How do they always get you to buy stuff—even when it’s something you didn’t need? It’s called the sales pitch. Every salesperson has one, and software vendors are no exception. In fact, they have several ways of pitching their products.
One such way is through a white paper—which often discusses particular problems that many companies may be facing. At the same time, it gives vendors the opportunity to enlighten you about the one possible solution that can “fix it.” However informative it may be, ultimately a white paper is a cleverly written sales pitch—a pitch containing certain buzzwords that gloss over the practical realities of their solution.
Here are ten of the most ambiguous buzzwords I’ve seen used in white papers—and they may make you think twice about whether or not a software vendor is truly focusing on your best interests.
A white paper is a document or “brief” (and yes, perhaps unfortunately, I mean “brief” in the sense of something that informs rather than something that is short—white papers are sometimes as concise as newspaper editorials, or run as long as the latest “… For Dummies” book; examples of this will be provided in upcoming posts). A white paper’s purpose is to educate the reader, who is the potential customer/consumer of a particular industry’s service or product. The author of the white paper aims not just to inform readers, but also to persuade them to clamor after said service or product. Or, at the very least, readers are encouraged to consider the product’s use and benefits—information which may help in making key business decisions.
White papers are intended to inform—and to sell an idea or a product. Another way to look at it: a white paper identifies a need (or more cynically, creates a need or desire) and then suggests a solution. After all, as Michael Stelzner, a recognized expert in white paper writing, says: white papers are “powerful marketing tools” (or, in a more hyperbolic moment on his blog, “atomic marketing weapons”). In spite of this underlying purpose, it is generally understood that a white paper—or at least a good one—shouldn’t be overtly “salesy.” Or, in other words, a white paper is not supposed to be an infomercial in silent portable document format.
Like it or not, the enterprise software industry shifts constantly as vendors merge or acquire one another. But how does it affect you? Here are ten reasons.
1) Acquisitions can wreak havoc if you’re in the middle of an implementation
Does your ERP system provider have your concerns at heart during the vital implementation phase? Is it responding to your questions? Is your implementation on the high-priority list? If it’s in the midst of an acquisition or merger process, you’re probably not even on its radar screen.
2) Product discontinuation
After a merger or acquisition, vendors tend to discontinue (stabilize, kill, or however you’d like to phrase it) products. They embark on a forced-march upgrade to future (fused) products. Read the rest of this entry »
Generally, I would venture to say any website that uses a little more interactive and dynamic technology (i.e. not just publishing “flat” HyperText Markup Language [HTML] pages) and supports some kind of online commerce, community, or other value-added activity that is enabled by the network would have Web 2.0 traits. But, is it still more buzzword than anything else, and is it being used to put “lipstick on a lot of pigs” even now?
Or, is Web 2.0 a genuine set of technologies that can even provide the “richness” of traditional desktop applications (read Microsoft Office) to the Web-based applications, without all the price and/or performance pitfalls/traps that are often associated with Office Business Applications (OBA)? At least we need to keep a close eye on how the next generation of office workers are using social networking sites/communities like Tagging, Facebook, Twitter, Instant Messenger (IM), etc., as they can give us a clue how effective collaboration should be driven into next generation of enterprise applications (of course, provided the security and privacy standards have been met). Read the rest of this entry »
I covered the basics of ERP previously, and thought I’d move on to supply chain management (SCM), which we’re also featuring in tomorrow’s TEC Newsletter (go to Newsletter archives), with lots of white paper goodness, to boot.
What is SCM? Read the rest of this entry »
We get asked this question a lot, so I thought I’d provide a brief overview.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software unifies traditional management functions within a coherent, integrated system. These management functions may vary from product to product, but comprehensive ERP software applications encompass the following areas:
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) issued a press release on its newly published Affero General Public License (AGPL) version 3. This license affects the modification and distribution of software oriented toward Web-based services.
The popular adoption of Web-based applications as an alternate to in-house software implementations has meant that free and open source software developed for web-based usage can be picked up by companies outside of the ones that originally developed the software, modify it, and foist it upon the world as a new business without necessarily contributing the modifications back to the project. That is a bone of contention for many. Read the rest of this entry »
In the last decade or so of covering the enterprise applications market, I’ve witnessed so many products and vendors disappearing and reappearing under a different name, ownership, etc., but it is for the first time now, at the end of 2007 that I saw basically the same vendor go public for the second time (and in a 10 year timespan). Namely, Deltek (evaluate its flagship product), the leading provider of enterprise applications software designed specifically for project-focused businesses (those with business processes revolving around the engagement, execution and delivery of projects), has done it again. Its common shares begun trading November 1, 2007 on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the trading symbol “PROJ”. Previously, the company, which was founded in 1983, used to be publicly traded under the symbol “DLTK” from 1997 till late 2002/early 2003, when it was de-listed and went private again (for the time being).
I don’t intend to bore you with the financial figures (about the number of shares offered, its current share value, market capitalization, etc.), since many wire alerts have repeatedly already done so. What is more interesting here is Deltek chief executive officer (CEO), Kevin Parker’s statements that the company — which, as mentioned above, was taken public 10 years ago before being taken private about five years later by the founding deLaski family — launched its second initial public offering (IPO) as a means to boost recognition of the Deltek brand. Parker believes that it is an important time to have a broader audience, and the company is thus focusing on expanding globally. Proceeds from the offering will be used to pay down debt, which Parker said will give the company greater ability to reinvest in the company.
In his recent blog post, Ray Wang of Forrester Research is quite positive and upbeat about the IPO, and fully agrees with Parker’s ideas and justifications. Myself, I often tend to mostly agree with Ray, with the difference that one should always mention some caveats too (and please, can anyone show me a single company without some challenges?). On the other hand, a report that preceded the Deltek IPO by a few months (i.e., it was posted after Deltek’s pre-IPO S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] ) was quite negative, berating the S-1 filing (especially the “Description of business” part) as sounding so outdated (so 1990-ish), and without any references to the contemporary trends like Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Software as a Service (SaaS)/On-Demand, Web 2.0, etc. Also, the article opines that the heydays of the Professional Service Automation (PSA) market (one in which Deltek competes) are far behind us (I might agree with the fact that the PSA acronym might be a “goner”, but not really the market opportunity – certainly not in a services economy). Read the rest of this entry »
Is there really such a thing as the small to medium business (SMB) advantage?
Maybe, maybe not.
In recent years, rapid growth has created mounds of data which—far from serving better business decisions—actually insulate executives from suppliers, customers, and employees. The founding, preemptive advantage of SMBs—that executives are closer to the action—has dissipated under the crushing weight of data silos. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s an update on new TEC vendor ratings and certifications. If you’re currently evaluating or researching ERP, business process management (BPM), or product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, here’s what we have new for you. Reports are available as well as in-depth rating evaluations in the evaluation centers. Here are the new items.
TEC published up-to-date information for version 4 of Omnify’s Empower PLM. Some areas in which the product’s functionality focuses help to integrate product design changes with the production process, product data vaulting and management, and configuration management.
Polymita’s BPM Suite joined our business process management knowledge base. The product focuses in part on modeling, workflow, and security functionality.
If you’re researching ERP solutions for discrete, process, or mixed-mode industries, I’d like to announce that TEC analysts recently certified the Logo Business Solutions’ Unity system.
Finally, to continue on the different variants of ERP systems, a new name recently entered the enterprise software space, Solarsoft. Its products however, have a history represented in the merger of vendors CMS and XKO Software. We’re offering six different reports on these products.
I’ve seen a lot of press about the open source telephony system, Asterisk. Although I haven’t worked in the telephony world for some time, I remember what it was like administering those systems years ago in a midsize company that handled large event ticket sales.
We ran some systems on OS/2 and for larger ACD call center requirements, Unix. These were not inexpensive systems. If I go to AsteriskNOW.org, now I can download a specialized Linux distribution that installs as an easy-to-set-up PBX system. Since TEC’s current newsletter issue is focusing on telephony issues, I figured I’d post a bit about the open source side.
The Asterisk project originates with a company called Digium, which looks like the center of a whirlwind of related activity. IP telephony vendors claim that one of the benefits they offer is a reduction in costs that would normally be incurred from toll services, and this message is frequently targeted toward small and medium businesses. So if you combine that with some of the other common open source advantages, you get an interesting product to consider. Read the rest of this entry »
Reading in-flight magazines and running through airports today, we can see advertising for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, but it is always a serious stuff (albeit well done and to the point), such as “Best run businesses run on SAP” (or so). Nowadays, however, if we go to the virtual online, social-networking world (with viral marketing and advertising at its core), we can even find attempts at humor in marketing ERP. To see what I mean, please go to YouTube and see a humorous take on ERP systems and ERP vendors.
With the “cat in the tree” theme, Lawson Software (evaluate some of its products) is attempting to use viral marketing, with cartoonish humor, to gain a small corner in the otherwise big budget advertising fight between SAP and Oracle (if not Microsoft and IBM too). Lawson is a relatively large vendor, with revenues nearing the US$1 billion mark, but is quite far from the financial muscle of SAP (evaluate some of its products) and Oracle (evaluate some of its products). Therefore, can creativity and viral marketing make a dent in this big budget world or is this just “budget envy” on the part of Lawson? Read the rest of this entry »
I just saw this announcement about Compiere’s 11 new demos. The company is offering a sneak peek of its next generation Web-architecture. While watching the first demo, I notice it really stresses ease-of-use in the interface.
Whether others agree that it’s easy to use or not, I don’t know but, but it is interesting that Compiere publicly asked for feedback in its public forum on the subject. A few days ago I posted about some debates taking place on the user-friendliness of enterprise software. I suggested that getting the software development process to incorporate greater open communications like in open source projects, could help improve the user-friendliness. Well this is a real live example of just that.
People often ask us “what’s the difference between process and discrete ERP?” We model both systems in such a way that they share many common components, nevertheless process manufacturing industries have unique requirements that differ from discrete manufacturing industries. Here’s a rough overview of the difference.
A quick definition from APICS (The Association for Operations Management) describes discrete manufacturing as “The production of distinct items such as automobiles, appliances, or computers.” Whereas process manufacturing covers “Production that adds value by mixing, separating, forming, and/or performing chemical reactions. It may be done in either batch or continuous mode.” Now let’s look at a few examples. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve ever been involved in selecting a business software solution, you know how tricky it can be. Today’s software systems are quite complex, and it can be very difficult to tell which vendor has the solution best suited for the special needs and business processes of your organization. One way to help avoid making a bad choice is to have a complete list of software functions to refer to.
Let’s say you’re going to be choosing a new ERP system. With a list in hand of all the functions an ERP system can perform, you could flag all the functions your organization requires, prioritize them, and then submit them to vendors to see if, and how well, each vendor supports them.
Creating this prioritized list of functional requirements and submitting it to vendors would not only help make sure that no functionalities important to your organization are forgotten or overlooked, it would also help you eliminate those vendors who don’t support, or only poorly support, the functionalities your organization requires. You would be taking a giant step toward making sure you don’t end up with a software system that isn’t designed to do what you want it to. Read the rest of this entry »