In a post GDPR world, vendor marketing themes and modes have changed as we have commented on before however, not only has the means of getting a message to market shifted, but the messages have also changed. Last week, a news announcement crossed my desk from Contigo, the UK-based ETRM and related software supplier, that focused on the cost and ease of implementations. The announcement focused on a combination of vendor research and expertise to discuss six factors that Contigo believes influence the time it takes to implement software and promoted a white paper download from its site. It is an interesting read and was supported by statements from a customer – Co op Energy – that make the whole message more compelling. Contigo have recognized a trend around implementation and cost that has increasingly become a theme in recent years and months. In fact, in our shortly to be released Vendor Perception Survey, it is plainly apparent that buying criteria such as cost and implementation have increased in priority in both the way buyers and influencers (Consultants and Integrators) see the world.
Of course, a focus on implementation and cost or on speed and ease of implementation has also been a much used theme of many vendor marketing messages recently and just today, as if to reinforce this, I posted an Eka news release touting its implementation track record this year and how it had slashed the cost of an implementation by 50%. ION OpenLink had a successful campaign of moving Endur into the middle market in recent years by focusing on pre-configured versions specific to the needs of certain types of business in order to reduce it’s sticker price as well. FenDahl routinely uses lower total cost of ownership as a part of its high-level messaging. Allegro recently ran a campaign on the 5-myths which included a look at the implementation side of things and why that shouldn’t be expensive citing their customer survey data as evidence (work performed by ComTech independently for Allegro). ION Aspect have long touted their cloud approach to reduce implementation cost and risks as well as their Total Cost of Ownership. Brady PLC also recently announced its FAST START Implementation offerings for Metals Trading lifecycle management. In fact, as we look across the space, it can be noted that this has become something of a marketing theme with G10, Pioneer, and many other vendors (who will likely now remind me forcibly of it!) focusing on it as a key part of their message.
The fact is though that implementation can be a far bigger risk and cost than many buyers expect. Although now somewhat dated, CommodityPoint did some research into implementation costs as a metric of license several years ago, which we believe is likely still very accurate finding that implementations could run anywhere between 50 – 500% of license value with the average being north of 100%. Although user satisfaction rates have increased over the last decade as evidence by our Vendor Perception surveys and reports, it is certainly true that there are costly over runs and even failures and often, a dissatisfied user has issues stemming directly from a suboptimal implementation. In our soon to be released Vendor Perception survey report, there remain more dissatisfied than highly satisfied users (although the number of those saying they are satisfied is actually high).
The vendors then have found an issue that resonates with the buyers and influencers in the implementation and risk/cost of implementation and reading through the materials vendors like Contigo, Allegro, FIS, Brady, and others have issued on this topic is to be recommended. Yes, it’s a marketing message, but the fact remains that there is an awful lot of good practice and sage advice from many of these vendors that resonates with our views on the topic too (See our book on the topic – again, it’s a little dated, but still very relevant in this respect).
As with many issues in the E/CTRM space, this is also one that is coming more into focus with the shift in technologies and architectures on offer. Will the ecosystem approach help reduce implementation cost and risk? Does a cloud-hosted or cloud-native solution achieve a reduction in risk and cost of implementation? On paper and theoretically the answer is probably yes. The reality is now being discovered and quantified. We will see. Meanwhile, some of the content being generated by the vendors is of very good quality and should not be dismissed simply as good marketing.