The battle to transform your ‘front office’ heats up…put your goals & strategy first!

The battlefront between software vendors for automating your ‘front office‘ which are the parts of business that come into contact with clients, and in an ideal selling world engage in long term relationship conversations with them. In the current era there is an appetite to explore all areas that could attract and drive these customer relationships, with research and development, innovation and brand and product messaging tied into the huge streams of data that expensive technologies feed back about prospect and customer digital activities.

Enterprise software companies marketing the heck out of now widely understood ideas

For this fall’s IT fashion season, the big enterprise software vendors are rolling out their big marketing guns and hammering home messaging about the transformations they could provide for your business. Accommodating the pace of change invoked by our rapidly evolving personal choices of digital technologies and uses has proven a pretty big headache for enterprise software companies, and there’s now an element of Chutzpah about some of their catch up messaging.

The San Francisco Bay Area is currently peppered with 48 sheet billboard advertising for social software products and events, and books on our formerly emergent world seem to be published at a rate of several a day by all sorts of characters from qualified and opportunist. Public Relations professionals have been very vocal in wrapping product marketing messaging as business ‘social movement’ strategy for their employers and clients.

On the buy side of all this messaging, many have already had a few previous below par experiences after being impressed by the sizzle only to be disappointed by the actual steak when buying software, that turned out to be both unfit for purpose and sometimes unclear what the purpose for it was alongside pre existing ways of working. The resulting shelfware has also been the nemesis of a few careers.

The My Space lesson

Venerable My Space, whose odd journey from former fashion darling of the digital social set to ‘previous relationship’  status for most people is a sobering lesson, are attempting a major relaunch. The video above shows the old world of blinky animated gifs transformed into a hip place with a lovely use interface that ties in nicely with Microsoft’s   current look and feel demos and advertising.

The big old guard MISO vendors (Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle) are striving mightily to avoid being relegated to ‘back office’ status, where more modern applications extracting relevant data from past generation technologies to display in agile, contextual flows of information limit their influence.

The MISO quartet, along with all the other big public market software vendor players, must continue to demonstrate virile growth to the financial markets on a quarterly basis. Their challenge is all the greater in avoiding cannibalizing their existing lucrative business lines with new fangled cloud solutions. The newer generation cloud vendors see  growth into these older players markets as we all know.

Much of the marketing hoopla and conference rhetoric we are now experiencing is similar to the My Space video above. Looks great, being asked to think differently about a familiar brand name we may feel jaded about (substitute software seat license audits and maintenance contract pain for digital social life ‘been there done that’ sensations), future looks bright, etc etc.

Solving the ‘Collaboration Silos’ problem

Where we have been and where we are going next – particularly collectively – are two very different things, and strategizing around what will work based on the actual needs of your business has never been more important. Putting the software cart before the strategic needs horse is all too common when we are dazzled by vendor offerings being presented as ‘The Future of Work’.

As Drucker timelessly said “It’s easier for companies to come up with new ideas than let go of old ones” and overlaying new layers of technology fits that thought also. A popular evergreen post on my ZDNet blog ‘Small, medium or large collaboration headache?‘ is where some of the work with clients I’ve been doing recently lies. Solving the fragmentation and information filtering issues that are plaguing efficiency in many larger firms across multiple ‘collaboration silos’, each served by different technologies and user bases.

Before making any big bets on the future it is money well spent to get our objective, technology agnostic opinion on what will be most fit for purpose to serve your company well in the future..






By Oliver Marks

Enterprise collaboration expertise

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