While my day job is very much designing social business design with my colleagues at the Dachis Group, today we're announcing a loose federation of experts we've named 'enterprise advocates'.
The intent, as outlined on the site, is to be advocates for the enterprise software buyer. There's an interesting dichotomy I've discussed here before in business between 'office' software - collaboration, content management, social software etc and the heavier weight 'infrastructure' of human resources, supply chain and resource planning.
My involvement in enterprise advocates is also two fold: to help the buyer get a good deal on technology which will help them be more efficient and make more money, and to address the increasing friction between the office and infrastructure areas, and help design greater interoperability for buyers.
As businesses start to re-engineer around more agile designs, the lines are increasingly blurring between office and infrastructure. I've previously made a shipping analogy: if an enterprise is a supertanker, below decks is infrastructure while above is superstructure.
Most businesses these days are struggling with how to stop putting on weight as an ever bigger compartmentalized supertankers however: they need to be much more nimble, distributed, interconnected and aware to compete and survive.
Ideas and concepts are discussed at various levels inside businesses trying to plan their futures around how to set sail as a next generation business, but often the launch day is never finalized and the hard realities of planning and buying provisions destroys momentum and clarity.
Businesses at scale run on a backbone of enterprise software, and the older the business (and M&A business units) the more layers of legacy IT strata there are. Despite all the hoopla about future suites from the larger vendors most businesses are a couple of software generations back and struggling with what to do next.
In this economy big decisions are needed on future infrastructure direction. Awareness is now high on the business value of collaboration but the Monday morning 9 a.m. meeting generally has a very hard time getting their arms around how to implement the promise of what they've got excited reading about.
Case histories tend to be apples to oranges, and vendors are somewhat like the Burger King 'Have it Your Way' marketing messaging. Over a nicer lunch and dinner than hamburgers all your problems will be solved by their well thought through solution. Don't worry, they've been studying best of breed uptake and baked that thinking into their products. And just wait for the upgrade coming soon, it's going to be bigger, better and even more amazing!
The Burger King interactive menu takes the thinking out of whether you want 'Fun', Food' or 'King' (more food). Have a go on this, it's easy and there's all sorts of analogies here with buying software.
Consultants such as the Dachis Group exist to help you design business solutions to make your company more efficient and avoid buying a junior whopper when what you urgently needed was a scalable, socially calibrated system to better serve your businesses processes and culture.
The enterprise advocates collectively have 100 years of practical and consulting experience with $10 billion in negotiated contracts around enterprise infrastructure.
Keeping businesses lean and agile requires intelligent, aware planning coupled with viable execution patterns. Listening to informed, aware maintenance contract experts when the time comes to plan budgets and propose plans to the business has to be a good thing.
As enterprise advocates Ray Wang says 'The buy side has never had a strong voice in the IT community or in the media' : this is often a show stopper for those looking for objective advice to bolster their budget rationale and logic amongst the 'no one ever got fired for buying IBM/MSFT/SAP/Oracle etc' crowd.
The twin weapons for the buyer of social business design and seasoned buyer advocacy mark a new era in help for those making tough decisions in a tougher economy.
This will help businesses stay agile and fit for purpose at negotiated fair partnership rates with their suppliers. More to the point it avoids the flab and expense of being fed a diet of happy meals, which while attractive at the time wind up cluttering the place up with shiny toys that seemed a good idea at the time....