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Avi Rosenthal

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Select the worst product in the Short List

The title of the post summarize the bottom line of my recommendation to a customer. 

The Short List included three software products. Two of the products were owned by the same vendor.
Let call the best product product A, the worst product product C and the third product product B.

Why I recommended not to select the best product?
In my opinion, product A was better than the other two technically and conceptually.
However, the same vendor was selling product B as well.

Due to overlapping products in companies acquired by the vendor he owned two competing products.

The key question was: Which product is the vendor's strategic product?
My answer to this question was: product B is the strategic product.

My customer was buying a significant product for Long Term. For the long term, the vendor will invest in Research and Development in product B. 
He will invest as less as he can in product A. The support to this product's customers will be minimal. 

Vendors do not tell you that one product is strategic and the other is maintenance fees engine. 
The vendor told me both products are strategic.
I had reasons to believe that product B was the strategic products.

A friend of mine working in the IT Department of a large US based company, confirmed my opinion.

The company he worked for was probably one of the largest customers using product A.

According to my friend, the maintenance service was not good. No solutions for bugs were provided for long time.

The Bottom Line for product A:
Expect minimal future product development and low quality maintenance service. Do not select product A. 

Comparing Products B and C
Product B's vendor was a large global vendor, who develops, maintain and sells variety of software products. 

Product C's vendor was a lot larger. He has producing maintaining and selling many software and hardware products.

It is not the size that matters: Product C's vendor actually owned the Proprietary Platform the selected product should be deployed on.

This vendor was the leading hardware provider, the only Operating Systems provider for that hardware, The leading Integrated Development Environment (IDE) provider and the leading Database provider.

Many Customers prefer buying all strategic software from a single vendor and not Best of Breed approach. Product C's market share was higher than product B's market share.   

The product selected should interface with Infrastructure Software products. 
My prediction that for the Long Term product C will integrate better with other products built by the same vendor than product B built by another vendor, was gradually confirmed.

Historical perspective also supported selection of product C.
Five years before my customer selected a product, product C's functionality was very limited and the number of its bugs resembled the number of holes in a Swiss cheese. 

During the five years until the selection process took place the gap between product B and product C was systematically narrowed.

The Bottom Line: 
In the Long Term product C will be better than Product B and probably will dominate the market. Product C should be selected and implemented despite its functional and conceptual inferiority in comparison to product B.

After ten years
More than ten years after my recommendation it is quite sure that my recommendation was correct.

Product C's enhanced integration with the Operating System and the de facto standard Database is a huge advantage.
Product C's functionality and features are broader than product B's functionality and features.

There were no new product B's customers and many users included in its installed base migrated to product C.

   
  


  



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Ari has over 30 years of experience in IT across a wide variety of technology platforms, including application development, technology selection, application and infrastructure strategies, system design, middleware and transaction management technologies and security.

Positions held include CTO for one of the largest software houses in Israel as well as the CTO position for one of the largest ministries of the Israeli government.