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Untitled Document It is no revelation that the traditional enterprise software business has changed significantly over the last several years. Established vendors have had their revenues and market capitalizations slashed. And we have witnessed a wave of acquisitions -- with industry giants gobbling up very large rivals, including the hostile take-over of PeopleSoft and Siebel by Oracle and the friendlier buy-outs of Cognos and Business Objects by IBM and SAP respectively.

Many remaining independent players have seen their stock prices stagnate. In the startup scene, most VCs avoid the on-premise software model and are throwing their weight behind Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Although every industry has its ups and downs, the time has come for customers to ask if enterprise software will still give them the good return on investment they have come to count on.

Take CRM as an example. Gartner reports that 55 percent of projects fail to meet expectations and Butler Group reported a whopping 70 percent of projects failed. With those industry statistics well understood, no rational person should even start a CRM project unless they believe they have some "secret sauce" that sets them apart from the herd. While there are undoubtedly some exceptional implementations, the only consistent message from the market is that there is no "secret sauce."

IT departments sometimes act like their primary function is buying. Status and salary are functions of headcount and budget, and the more work there is to do, the more headcount and budget follow. This leads to a desire to undertake big projects and vendors are more than happy to push bigger and more complex boxes of Legos to drive this addiction.

Having been involved in countless implementations, I have found that on typical projects, problems arise the moment implementation starts. It is not unusual to discover that presumed capabilities are unusable -- perhaps it was functionality which was added solely for the purpose of being able to "check the box." Two or three of those are enough to badly throw a project off-track. And, often after roll-out is complete, many organizations discover that the actual user experience is so different than expected that usage itself is much less than anticipated, or that the system goes entirely unused. It is factors like these that lead to project failure rates of 50 percent or more.


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