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It’s getting harder to determine which software vendors have what capabilities. This is because:

  • The number of technology startups has increased;
  • Big software companies have been acquiring other firms to increase the breadth of their capabilities;
  • Established firms are rapidly making changes to their suite of applications – adding capabilities so quickly that it’s difficult to land on a static evaluation and comparison vs. other vendors.

The branding of specific functionality continues to proliferate. Firms don’t define their software’s features all the same way – they give them a brand name, which only adds terminology that is unnecessary and gets in the way of a clear comparison of features.

Firms are offering products and services that overlap what other firms offer, making it more difficult to weed out who truly offers what you want.

It used to be that, if your company needed software in some form – packaged or custom – it was “installed” on a server. Then a “client” for the software – a relatively small piece of software – was installed on desktops so that the software on the server could communicate with the user on the desktop.

In between the two was a local-area network (LAN), which is jargon for a wired connection. In this configuration, a user could launch the client software on a PC, and the client would, via communication over the LAN to the server, enable the user to fully use all the features of the software.

Players in this market looked like this:

  • The firm that wrote the software;
  • The firms or independent consultants that support the software;
  • The firm(s) that helped you to install, configure, test and launch the software you bought;
  • The company from which you bought your servers;
  • The company that supplied your LAN and wide-area network (WA)

All of this has changed. Now there are vendors that can do all of the above, without stepping inside your building, through a web portal.

How do you get what you need in this environment?

  1. Find the software vendors that know your industry and understand what they offer. Software companies are usually organized according to what they call industry verticals, such as health care, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, banking. A company with lots of clients in your industry is a good start
  2. Find the software vendors that are the best for your targeted functional area such as sales, manufacturing, finance, etc.
  3. Focus on the firms that are well represented in #1 and #2 above