Simplicity Means Bringing Customers with You

Scott Francis
Next Post
Previous Post
Neil Ward-Dutton of MWD Advisors recently put this quite well, when discussing how two major customers of Oracle and Tibco’s respective BPM solutions feel about the impressive new releases from these firms:
Nevertheless it’s not necessarily the case that TIBCO and Oracle customers are punching the air with excitement about the new stuff. Both companies I spoke to have made very significant investments in earlier versions of these technologies and now see their investments as important to protect. Their investments haven’t only been in software licenses but also in skills – and protecting these sunk investments is at least as important for them as finding out what the new stuff can do. In both cases there are question marks about how easy it will be to migrate existing investments from the ‘old’ platform to the new offering. Of course all enterprise software vendors say they’ll support previous versions of tools for existing customers, but there’s a difference between continuing to fix bugs and actually helping a customer protect the value of an existing investment into the future.
I think it is high time that commercial software vendors do a better job supporting transitions from old-to-new.  At the very least, sponsor (and invest in) an open-source project to help customers make the transition.  At best, build the right bridges to get customers from version 2 to version 3 in a meaningful way that protects their investment in software.  And if you release a new “BPM” product with different DNA than the original product, you still owe it to your customers to figure out how to bring them along with you.  They shouldn’t have to scrap their original investment to use the new tooling. Software vendors, in general, require too much of customers when they roll out new software, and especially when they do a major refactoring of their software offering.  It is especially noticeable in the BPM space at the moment as stack vendors incorporate and digest the pure-play vendors they’ve purchased.  I’ll be interested to see if IBM can release the upgrade package promised to Lombardi customers that brings Teamworks 6 customers into the world of Websphere Lombardi Edition (previously known as Teamworks 7). As Neil asks: is there a process for that?  There should be…