Thursday, December 24, 2009

A look back enables a prediction for the future of HCM technologies

I was reading Jim Holincheck's 20 and 10 year look back, plus his predictions for today and 10 years from now. It got me thinking about my past as a futurist, working at the Institute for the Future and my time working with Patty Seybold.. OK...briefly, I've been working over 40 years, started as a programmer at Bank of America, then a couple of mutual fund companies, worked internationally at Dupont in Switzerland, then Stanford University Hospital and started my consulting work in 1980 at SRI International, followed by IFTF, then Patty, some time on my own and then The Hunter Group which has morphed into Cedar and now CedarCrestone. Up until Hunter, I used to change jobs every four years, but this has been a place where instead of leaving, I can evolve my work. But whew....that's a lot of work!

Anyway...when I started consulting work, it was as an adviser about office automation. IBM, Digital Equipment, Wang, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox and others all had these word processors or computers that evolved into integrated systems by adding data processing, email, decision support. To make a long story short about what happened....eventually, the functionality of all these vendors' office automation offerings looked alike, and here's the important part: the ONLY differentiation was the service and support the vendor or consultants provided!

Thinking about what Jim says...that MISO (Microsoft, IBM, SAP, and Oracle) will lose one over the next 10 years but gain one from today's ranks of business application vendors...maybe SalesForce, Workday, or Google? (MIGO?? maybe? or GISO??) Based on my old experience, I think the ones that survive and thrive in the business applications arena, including HCM, will do so because they get the IMPORTANCE OF SERVICE AND SUPPORT and all that is conveyed within. IBM already gets this. Oracle and SAP may start to bundle maintenance (just one part of service and support)into annual subscription packets and at least one will do fine. Microsoft if it is to evolve as an application provider must understand the importance of service and support to really play bigger time in the enterprise realms. And, Google, absolutely must get this. I watch all these companies that have great technical people developing custom solutions based on Google Apps or Sharepoint and watch the fact that these developers really don't get great leverage within their organizations because they don't understand that there is also change management needed to institutionalize solutions. And change management, consisting of all those things like project management, training, communications, building stakeholder commitment, etc. etc. is one of the most important parts of service and support. Hmmm, now that I think about it, even Oracle and SAP don't really get the importance of change management with their own service and support offerings, unless one pays arms and legs. Fortunately, they have great ranks of implementation/consulting companies like ours.

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