Enterprise Software Vendors and Buyers: We Should Do Lunch


"The survey showed that there is a crying need for vendors to work with customers in partnership," said M.R. Rangaswami, co-founder of investment research firm The Sand Hill Group which conducted the survey with Neochange.

To realize value, 70 percent of the study's 159 respondents said that effective adoption of software is the most critical factor, followed by organizational change (16 percent), process alignment (13 percent), and lastly, software functionality, with just 1 percent.

Buyers, according to the survey, expect far more than just products from their vendors. Nearly half said they are looking for "value enablement" and "process alignment" from software vendors. Only 5 percent felt that buyers needed just product expertise.

The type of support buyers are seeking from vendors involves some aspect of better usage -- either improving user skills or removing usage barriers, according to 60 percent of the respondents. An interesting finding was that both vendors and buyers agreed that improved usage was a key expectation of buyers. Other vendor expectations involved more typical aspects of software customer relationships, including new features, functionality and upgrades.

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"It used to be that customers would buy stuff and that would be followed by a lot of euphoria," said Rangaswami. "Then things would begin to fall apart and there would be finger pointing. Vendors and buyers need to sit down, get metrics and be in agreement."

In addition, the study found that since better usage is the No. 1 driver of business value realization, buyers are increasingly expecting software vendors to help them improve adoption in their user base. When asked how better usage would impact the business, an overwhelming majority of buyer and vendor respondents agreed that lower costs would be a result. Other benefits to the business would include an improved customer experience and higher revenue growth.

"Although software is just one piece of the enterprise business strategy, it is a critical piece," the study's authors wrote. "Ultimately, enterprise software success is critical to the entire success of the business. Most survey respondents said that software delivers a competitive advantage to the business than any other benefit."

Still, all is not lost. The bottom line, according to the authors -- buyers are willing to pay for services that can increase effective usage levels in their company -- in fact, one fifth of respondents said that such services are "must-haves."