Perspectives

Technology shifts happen: Are you confident to buy?

The intelligent enterprise technology choice

Achieving your ambitions: Buying for your organisation

In our previous article, we talked about the undeniable shift, where platforms will outlive products as the foundation of your technology landscape. We looked at how you should no longer limit yourself to buying a product and look further afield to find a capability worthy of your ambitions. Buying behaviour should be moving towards purchasing for the organisation over an extended multi-year horizon.

Software acquisition

Most challenges with major software purchases used to be traced to inadequate requirements. You wrote your requirements, perhaps sent out an RFI, got on a train to visit a few selected software vendors and selected a supplier that most closely matched your needs. “Can be used remotely on a hand-held device”, check. “A map view”, check. “The supplier has a good credentials”, check. You got a good feeling for the functionality, it matched your list of requirements, you completed a software evaluation, and you selected a product. You added your users and organisation, and you were ready.

Being led by your vision and strategy

Of course, it has always been important to seek a capability that matches your needs. It is also increasingly important to look at your long-term vision and purpose. What does your organisation want to achieve? What legacy does the business need you to leave? These are important questions, because a digital platform should sunset further into the future than a product. In this landscape, your vision and the related strategic choices become more important to consider upfront. Different organisations will choose different paths to enact a strategy. Some retailers choose volume to drive higher margins whilst others choose premium product and experience to achieve the same outcome. Understanding your enterprise digital roadmap will improve your choice of technology platform.

Technology features

Once you are led by your strategy and vision, there are certain technology features that are needed to deliver on your strategy. This is where you start to look at market factors and combine them with your business drivers to find available technology that meets your needs. It is important to stay current with market feature availability to take your business where it wants to go. If your vision is greener living and your strategy is to rid yourself of fossil fuel usage, then your plan might be to buy solar panels, followed by an electric car, followed by a plastic-free life. The available car choices in 2022 are very different to those in 2019: it is no longer just a choice of capability fit, getting from A to B, your choices depend upon your direction and the market availability. There is also a need, more than ever, to work with technology partners who can articulate and demonstrate a clear roadmap that aligns to your future, in the car example this could be a charging infrastructure that meets your travel needs. We are seeing an increase in the ecosystem approach to technology adoption to ensure breadth of feature coverage aligned to business direction.

To trial or not to trial

Free trials are common in the software industry, where they were rare before the emergence of Software as a Service (SaaS). Whilst many suppliers are great at making free trials easy to achieve, there is still some way to go before setup, configuration and usability of free trial software denotes the usability you could get from a designed software tailored to your needs. If a proof of concept is important to you then seeking out vendors who will invest in the configuration of their platform will be important. This direction should always be balanced with the agility of iterative delivery models and the business value that can be derived from speed to market.

What else should I consider?

Once you know your technology features, the technical services on offer become more important. Platforms come with distinct services, including specific integration needs, differing application layers, defined support services, licence approaches, analytics functions, data processing and infrastructure models. The choice between, for example, different authentication techniques or different architectures come at different price points, and also come with a different appetite for risk and growth. Some platforms stand-alone and some integrate into your organisation’s technology setting, highlighting once again why it is important to consider your enterprise environment strategy when making technology choices.

The importance of requirements

So, your direction of travel is clear. You have considered the business factors, market factors, integration needs and technology availability. At this point your requirements are important. Perhaps you have a maintained backlog of requirements or a library of standard requirements. This is particularly true around non-functional items such as security, licence terms, and authentication. Due to the proliferation of technology in the market, it is advisable also to ‘reverse engineer’ requirements from features to ensure that you have considered all possibilities and market needs that your competitors might be offering. You should always consider current user feedback, so that you understand who wants a requirement, and never hesitate to ask them to prioritise the requirements, so that you know what to implement first based on business need. Additionally, you should always ensure you always know which requirements are less important, so that they do not drive your technology platform selection.

Close: The buyer journey

In summary, technology leaders need to adopt an approach to selecting technology to fit the organisational needs over a longer horizon than ever before. Platform selection can no longer be driven primarily by functional fit. It must consider an organisation’s vision, strategy, technology landscape, feature availability and integration capability whilst also considering the supplier’s appetite to deliver to more complex needs. Only then can intelligent buying meet the growing needs of an organisation both for today and the future.

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