The Insider's Blog - Resistance isn't Futile

So another Oracle specialist gets assimilated by the Borg; and the gradual process to becoming a fully paid-up drone to the Collective begins. I can just imagine how the amiable breakfast negotiations went:

“We are your future. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”

“That’s OK, just sign the cheque and pass the marmalade”.

Now let’s be clear (as per legal advice), global Systems Integrators have an important role to play in global business; I’ve worked for a few and some of the benefits for employees and clients have been compelling.

There are times when you need one-hundred identi-kit-soldiers; there are junctures of ERP programs where having local resource in a myriad of global locations is vital – and when you need an interwoven mesh of different ‘practices’ (from change to testing, Oracle to Microsoft) – a single core supplier is a real crutch to lean on. But please, if you think the average mid-sized UK-based client can expect better Oracle ERP service from this then that’s just illogical.

OK – enough with the Star Trek (I’ve always preferred Star Wars) but the clue, of course, is in the title ‘Global System Integrator’ – is that really what you want, or need? If you asked clients of the acquired Experts (Compel, Rocela, Sysao, Velos IT, Edenbrook, Mokum…) what compelling story they bought in to – I’m not convinced that is the same story they’ll be getting now – no matter how good the ‘cultural fit’ that will undoubtedly be rolled-out in client briefings. (Do the newly-signed consultants get to hold up the new kit shirt for the gathered journalists whilst doing a few keepy-ups?).

My own experience, for what it’s worth having recently escaped the Borg to work for smaller, friendlier, more agile company, is that a detailed review of customer profiling will take place and unless your organisation fits the new target model, then over time you will inevitably become less important as a client and service levels will drop.

I have no axe to grind with Global SIs, indeed I still owe them a bob or two for the free beers during university Milkrounds, it’s just that the whole ethos and philosophic heart of a technology line-of-business cannot be the same in the independent specialist when compared to the Global provider.

I tried to describe this fundamental difference to my mum last week and failed miserably after she pointed out just how good they were at doing her company’s accounts around the globe even though she’d never spoken to them. But that’s just it, I can’t argue about the ability of the large provider to deliver value in particular areas, but certainly in outsourced IT, the types of organisation they want to deal with have a totally different outlook and organisational culture. Therefore the way of engaging as a team is inherently different. In my experience of the UK ERP space, the nature of successful Consulting engagements and end-user-based Managed Services, is in the definition:

Consultant n.
i. One who gives expert or professional advice.
ii. One who consults another

If you want a Systems Integrator, that’s ok, I know a few good ones – and some are ‘Global’, but if you bought in to a contract with an Oracle expert, a company who lives and dies on their abilities in the Oracle space alone, whose reputation is built on delivering a 100% positive customer experience, who believe passionately in getting the most out of ERP and who genuinely want to “consult” and work with their clients, then take a second to consider the type of organisation you want to deal with, and perhaps a couple more seconds to review the contractual small-print around ‘Change of Ownership’.

Live long and prosper.