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ERP vendor conference season has begun: let the buyer beware!

As an observer of ERP vendor conferences, I have grown more jaded and suspicious of the messaging pouring out of these events over the years. Why am I so cynical? As a marketer, I completely get what the conference game is all about, but the propaganda we are witnessing from the old ERP guard and even some of the new cloud ERP guard has reached farcical levels. It is such a target rich environment that I expect The Onion to write a satirical piece on what is emanating from these conferences any day now.

Maybe I still can’t forgive the “Big ERP” and legacy ERP vendors for doing everything they could do to discredit the cloud just a few years ago. Now they have the cloud religion and are falling over themselves to position themselves as the cloud provider of choice.

You get religion really fast when your stock price plummets because you aren’t growing and you don’t have what Wall Street is paying for – recurring subscription revenues. As the saying goes, nothing says I love you like recurring revenues.

Financial Engineering vs. Product Engineering
So what have the legacy vendors done? Besides a cloud about face, they have bought their way into the cloud by acquiring cloud companies with existing subscription revenues. The financial engineering came before the product engineering. Now these vendors are tacking together a mish mash of applications and technical architectures into one “cloud solution” that will fly under the single logo to make it appear as one cloud to their unsuspecting customers. Do they think people are that gullible?

We call this an ERP FrankenCloud. As we have pointed out before, many companies are creating their own Frankenclouds by allowing departments to buy different cloud solutions without thinking through the bigger, more company wide picture. As each cloud is added, the number of logins, databases, customer records, development toolsets, collaboration tools etc. grows, creating a modern integration and user experience nightmare.

Marketecture vs. Architecture
The legacy vendors are bolting together their own version of a Frankencloud, but somehow customers are supposed to feel better about it because the different cloud architectures are coming from one company under the same logo. Not to be outdone, the new guard cloud ERP vendors are doing the same thing – adding other cloud apps with completely different architectures, user interfaces, reporting tools, development environments etc. These are marketectures versus a product architecture. From the outside, it all looks like one cloud on a web site, but when you use all these bolt-ons, the experience is Frankenstonian.

Let the buyer beware indeed.

The Beatles wanted to be paperback writers, but I think it would be more fun to write for The Onion especially when there are target rich environments like ERP Conferences around. I can see the headlines now:

  • Delusional Man Who Asked, “So how many clouds are there actually?” Swiftly Escorted from NSW15
  • Mother Prevents Son Aged 27 from Attending ERP Conference to Prevent Integration Nightmares
  • Integration Vendor Stocks Rocket on News of Yet Another Cloud ERP Acquisition by Oracle

This is just one Area Man’s opinion.

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