Tech & Work

In a world of Goliaths, who's got a stone?

It seems like it is that time of year again... the days are getting longer, the weather is getting a bit warmer and the top-tier software vendors are on a buying spree. Will you get lost in the shuffle? Why not support your local software developer!

It seems like it is that time of year again... the days are getting longer, the weather is getting a bit warmer and the top-tier software vendors are on a buying spree. Whether it is IBM snapping up Cognos or the SAP buyout of Business Objects, suddenly business intelligence has become big business.

And I understand why vendors want to include business intelligence in their product offering— it gives them the ability to offer an end-to-end solution, from the operating system, Web platform and databases on the back-end to the enterprise applications on the front-end.

For customers who are looking for a complete solution from one vendor, this is also a good fit. Why deal with multiple vendors when you can get everything you need from one?

But one of the "gotchas" with acquisitions is the very real problem of multiple platforms and approaches to software development. Quite often when a large company acquires technology from multiple buyouts or mergers, those software assets are written in different languages, targeted for different databases, etc. You may have one tool written in C# with another tool written in Java, one tool that has a SQL Server back end, another with Oracle or MySQL. Which presents a real headache for tier-one software vendors, as they try to consolidate these assets into one cohesive offering.

Somewhere in the decision making rationale, some products will be kept, some will be sacrificed or features re-worked into other applications. Computer Associates was derided in the 90's as being the place "where software goes to die" as they acquired dozens of applications, some of which never seemed to see the light of day again.

There is also the concern about platform lock-in, with vendors key to get customers to consolidate all of their applications on their technology stack, from servers to databases to programming languages.

In the frenzied pitch of buyouts and mergers, it is the customer who will ultimately lose out in the end, as the financial constraints of being part of a tier-one vendor stifle innovation and product development.

So here is my solution to the problem—whenever you are looking for a new software solution, look outside of the top-tier vendors. Do your research on local and overseas software companies who focus on innovative solutions for your needs. And it should also be noted that there are Australian software companies that have created world-class applications for acccounting, ERP, CRM, Manufacturing and more.

Often a smaller software company will provide better service and be more willing to adapt or enhance their product based on your requirements. And they won't necessarily be constrained by a single platform or technology. Being a smaller company, they can focus on innovation and delivering the best possible product.

In a world dominated by software Goliaths, maybe it's time to look for a sling shot and a few stones.

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