Enterprise software and the curse of vendor sameness

Summary:A look at ERP vendor marketing and positioning based on their own choice of words.

Enterprise software vendors talk in pithy, some would say pseudo-sophisticated, language designed to impress prospects, customers, and influencers in the market. Almost all enterprise vendors use terms like the following as symbols to convey broader meaning, despite offering little or no content to the reader:

  • Time to value
  • Continuous innovation
  • Accelerated solutions
  • Big data
  • Mobile first
  • Increase performance
  • Process improvement

With content-free language like this, it's no wonder different vendors sound so similar.

Read more from the Beyond IT Failures blog

This sameness happens for two reasons. First, software vendors frequently try to ride whatever wave seems to be popular at a given time, so they respond to a relatively small group of bloggers, analysts, and press; and second, the vendors copy each other. A revolving door of personnel across the major vendors makes this copying almost unavoidable: executives often leave one vendor for another, sometimes even returning to the original company. All of which creates homogeneity in marketing messages, product positioning, and use of language across the enterprise software industry.

As an experiment, I went to several vendor web sites and created a Wordle word cloud of their primary ERP product page. The word cloud highlights the key terms used on those pages. To create a fair comparison, I searched for each vendor's ERP page and then removed certain words such as company name.

The results are presented in alphabetical order.

Epicor

The Epicor ERP word cloud is based on this web page. Terms removed: Epicor and ERP. Click the image to view an interactive version:

Epicor ERP

Infor 

The Infor ERP word cloud is based on this web page. Terms removed: Infor, ERP, and Solutions. Click the image to view an interactive version:

Infor ERP

Microsoft

The Microsoft ERP word cloud is based on this web page. Terms removed: Microsoft, Dynamics, ERP, solution, contact, and 6:00. Click the image to view an interactive version:

Microsoft ERP

NetSuite

The NeSuite ERP word cloud is based on this web page. Terms removed: NetSuite and ERP. Click the image to view an interactive version:

NetSuite ERP

Oracle

The Oracle ERP word cloud is based on this web page. Terms removed: Oracle. Click the image to view an interactive version:

Oracle ERP2

SAP

The SAP ERP word cloud is based on this web page. Terms removed: SAP, ERP, February, and solutions. Click the image to view an interactive version:

SAP ERP

Strip away the top level of language veneer and here is how each of the vendors positions its ERP offering, based strictly on the word cloud:

  • Epicor: software solutions for business
  • Infor: efficiency for manufacturing and supply chain companies
  • Microsoft: business solutions based on partners
  • NetSuite: management and financial software in the cloud
  • Oracle: advanced management applications
  • SAP: software, services, and mobility for customer processes

What do you think about the way vendors present themselves? Please add your thoughts to the comments.

Thanks to Louis Columbus for suggesting the Wordle idea. He's a smart guy.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP

About

Michael Krigsman is recognized internationally as an analyst, strategy advisor, enterprise advocate, and blogger. For CIOs and IT leadership, he addresses issues such as innovation, business transformation, project-related business objectives and strategy, and vendor planning. For enterprise software vendors and venture-funded star... Full Bio

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