« Tip Jar - A type of open source business model | Main | Biz dev via blog posts »

June 04, 2005

Boxed, Just Outside Of It !

Ever wondered why enterprise customers keep asking for "out of the box" (lets call if OOTB to save some typing hassle) features ? OOTB feature usually means the software had that feature at the time of shipment. It was there for customer to use it right from the beginning and doesn't require any expensive consultant tweak.  Consultant's manicured touch blows the spreadsheet. Hence enterprise customer's insistence on OOTB.


This is a conflicting desire.  On one hand there is this strong desire to create a competitive barrier using better and highly differentiated IT solutions, whereas CIO mandate is to keep cost low by rapidly demanding commodity type plain vanilla offerings. If you are following the debates around innovation and IT-is-dead then this dilemma could very well mirror a hypothetical battle between Christensen and Nicholas Carr  over IT budget allocation in front of the CEO !

Similar to Geoffrey Moore's Core Versus Context prescription, this dilemma is not properly resolved at the rank and file level in many big companies.  Somewhere in the politics of selection, maintenance and budgeting "organizational mind" shifts its attention to other concerns.  And Core gets all wrapped around the commodity software.  There is no organizational level API record of what is core and what is context.  UDDI ? Process Network ? Enterprise architecture blueprint ? This is no clear winner here so far.

ERP world doesn't provide all the answers, though it claims  all the available application real estate. I am getting tempted to call SAP as the world's biggest commodity software ! Everybody has it and everybody needs it. Just like MS Office. Whenever customer customizes the heck out of one SAP module it becomes core to their business process. Much to reinforce the common refrain - we do that differently here !   Core is mostly customized. It makes sense. Dell's famed supply chain or Walmart's inventory management systems are probably highly customized and home grown. They are not OOTB.

So ideally customer should not be expecting Core as OOTB.  For the best-of-breed (note to self: remember to parse this term best-of-breed in another post and understand  how this is similar to best-of-flip in current m&a environment) vendors their best bet is to get a sneak preview of customer's core requirements  and bet your life on it. And say NON to every other features. Say it with confidence cause you are trying to be core not contextual. Contextual comes from customer master which is their  SAP.

And then keep working the spiral.

June 4, 2005 in Economics of IT | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Boxed, Just Outside Of It !:


The comments to this entry are closed.