In technology buying situations, I’ve often heard this phrase many times throughout the years in justifying a buying decision:
“Well, no one got fired for picking Known Vendor Brand X.”
As a top consulting firm in technology, we advise you to take the phrase, soak it in lighter fluid, and light it on fire. Because that’s how much value it has today. This risk-mitigation excuse is used by too many executives today. Why do we feel that strongly? Let me explain.
Many of the large multi-billion dollar technology companies have 50+ individual product offerings. How many of those 50+ offerings are a top 2 service in that specific segment? I’d say, on average, 2 to 3. The 47 – 48 other offerings fall into a spectrum of “very competitive” to “also-ran”. That tech company is just hoping that its name-brand and client lack of desire to research alternatives is enough to avoid having to compete with superior offerings in those 47-48 segments.
A great example of this? Cisco.
They have an excellent array of technology products that undoubtedly contain market leaders in certain segments. But in all segments? No. But does the Cisco name often sway clients to buy sub-par Cisco offerings? Yes. We have heard plenty of clients buy Cisco simply due to the Cisco halo... and then be disappointed because the solution just doesn’t perform, is difficult to manage, isn’t fully baked, etc.
So why did you buy it then? Because you felt that there was safety in buying ANY product from a known name brand. I have news for you – big successful companies who spent a lot on marketing are just as capable as anyone else of making CRAPPY PRODUCTS.
Oftentimes a tech company decides that it wants to play in a space they don’t play in today.
The Ultimate Choice Then Arises
“Do we build our own product from the ground up and potentially lose much time in the battle for market share as we research, prototype, build, beta-release, re-design, re-release, fix, patch, and then go GA”?
“Do we take the easy route of buying a smaller company, shoe-horning that company, it’s product, culture, people, management portals, future product offerings into our own and reduce our go-to-market time?”
In the current time, the answer is very often B.
So my advice is this – if your buying decisions end in bad outcomes, your boss is going to care infinitely more about your outcomes then the vendors that got you there. Secondly, with the emergence of so much technology coming from so many companies that you’ve probably never heard of, you need great partners or consultants to cover that ground. It’s simply unfeasible for you to learn about all the new tech from new companies. Who are your partners today? Are they educating you or are they selling to you? Do you have regularly scheduled briefings where you match up your company’s existing and future needs with existing and new vendor offerings?
I’ll conclude with this. It’s harder than ever to buy technology and it’s only going to get harder. You need to have a strategy for vendor and technology vetting. The old school method of “Well, I won’t get fired if we buy Brand X” doesn’t work anymore. Secondly, don’t hesitate to cut vendors that underperform regardless of their brand. This is a new era. Lastly, you will find yourself buying more technology from companies that you’ve heard little to nothing about... and that’s ok. These companies are often laser-focused on solving a specific problem in a specific vertical. Don’t write them off...
At least until they get snapped up by some mega-tech company for more money than their founders knew ever existed.