Gradually, then suddenly

Lots of people are rattled by all the executive changes in the industry over the last few months …Bill McDermott and Rob Enslin at SAP…John Donahoe at ServiceNow…Mark Hurd and Thomas Kurian at Oracle …Charles Phillips at Infor….Bob Stutz at Salesforce….

There is plenty of speculation … Call me old fashioned, but I take the long view and being one degree of separation removed from many of these executives, I prefer to do my usual 360 degree calling around. Besides, as a colleague said “The signals were there if you knew where to look”. Hemingway was even more poetic when he wrote “How did you go bankrupt?” Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

To me, change is healthy. And often builds up over a couple of decades. Unlike many, I am not that agitated by what is happening in Washington or London. I ignore the shenanigans and the political media but I can see why we got to where we did. And look at ways to adapt to the changes.

Same thing with enterprise tech. In my recent book, I cataloged the last twenty years and described how Apple near dead, Google, Amazon, Foxconn and many others, mere babes then have thrived. I looked at how over a million on-prem customers have not budged. How 80% of the geographic and vertical white spaces have not been filled with modern solutions. Systems integrators continue to try and do business the same old, labor intensive ways they did in the last go-around.

It would be silly to not expect major changes given this build up. The key is not to confuse individual with corporate trajectories. The good news is we are seeing new leaders like Jen Morgan get a chance to put her imprint. With McDermott headed to ServiceNow and Stutz to SAP, we will see plenty of activity in the customer/revenue-centric segment of the market. There will be lots more activities in areas that did not see investment in the last few years.

Here’s my advice to customers. Take time to revisit your application portfolio. There are plenty of opportunities to modernize, consolidate, better integrate your applications. Your legacy has security and compliance risks and plenty of recruiting risks as you look to attract younger talent.

To vendors – question what may have worked over the last decade or so. Plenty of new opportunities and threats to focus us.

There will be plenty of distracting noise and speculation as we are seeing in politics.   Ignore all that, disrupt yourself and embrace the change.  Lots coming.


Cross-posted @ Deal Architect


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CEO of Deal Architect, a top advisory boutique recognized in The Black Book of Outsourcing, author of a widely praised book on technology enabled innovation, The New Polymath, prolific blogger, writing about technology-enabled innovation at New Florence, New Renaissance and about waste in technology at Deal Architect.  Previously Analyst  at Gartner, Partner with PwC Consulting. Keynoted at many business and technology conferences and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, The Financial Times, CIO Magazine, and other executive and technology publications.