Advertisement from a major software company:
We are programmed to receive. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.
Wait, sorry. Those are lyrics to Hotel California by the Eagles. But, it COULD be an advertisement for many, many software companies.
I recently sat on an advisory panel for a major cloud provider who asked what kept me up at night. I told them they did because they had created a closed solution and yet were becoming a major part of my strategy in the State of Colorado. They had built their own software language and had created a closed platform around it. In order to get the most bang for the buck, I had to hire new types of developers who knew their proprietary language. In general, it was more expensive for me to use that platform and I had to weigh that cost to the benefits (which, don’t get me wrong, were great). I asked them to open source their solution to level the playing field. They blinked and moved on to another topic.
Of course, you can’t blame a company for wanting their solution to be ‘sticky’. The ultimate goal is a customer for life and what a better strategy than to make it so painful to leave that you don’t. Except this strategy stinks. I always try to figure out how I’m going to get out while I’m getting in. (No, I don’t do this with relationships.) Companies go out of business, get acquired, change direction, and so on. So, I always have an exit strategy when purchasing new technology services. Having this strategy upon purchase is just as important as buying the service. Plus, a great exit strategy can allow you to try smaller, more innovative (read: riskier) technologies.
So, how can you prevent getting locked into a vendor’s solution?
Of course, there are times when you make a decision even if the migration path may be difficult down the line. Just make sure you know where the nearest exit is before the plane takes off.
And speaking of nearest exits… I recently left the State of Colorado to become the Chief Technology Officer for IQNavigator in Denver. It’s a very exciting opportunity and I can’t wait to blog about it!
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
and next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”