Just in time for Halloween, the BPM vendors are creating their own band of zombies. More specifically, their dead products are being brought back to 'life'. Killing a product in the first place is often a difficult decision for a vendor. The internal staff that helped create and market the product may be reluctant to let it go. Some customers may not want to see the product they purchased disappear, even if its replacement has better features and performance.The reality though, is that it is the right decision. If you are releasing a major new replacement product you need to re-allocate resources and start consolidating customers on the new platform. The significant merger and acquisition activity of last year left several vendors with overlapping and redundant product sets. The best of the vendors officially killed off the weakest links and worked on enhancing and moving forward with the strongest in each category. The worst of the vendors also have dead products, they just didn't announce it for fear of a customer revolt. Which brings us back to the walking dead.
Whether its announced or not, a product is dead when the vendor stops selling and marketing it. The best staff moves on and a skeleton crew of more junior staffers is left to fix major bugs and answer the support calls. This staff will dwindle further over time until no one is left. The product itself, although still useable, is frozen in time. There will be no enhancements. Future roadmaps laid out when it was purchased will not be delivered. It will not be updated to work with the latest operating systems, third-party applications, and accounting requirements. It will not grow into new areas as the rest of the BPM products are now doing. For these reasons, customers should start planning to move to a replacement product from their vendor or others as soon as they see the writing on the wall. That's where the zombie part comes in. It seems that some customers do not want to leave their current product no matter how their vendor tries to push and prod them. As a matter of fact, if the vendor pushes too hard they will move to a new product, just not from that vendor. Seeing the real risk of losing a customer to a competitor some creative salesmen are bringing back the dead. If they become aware that an owner of one of their dead products is considering other vendors for their replacement, they will pull out all the stops. Even though the vendor's own website may specify a date when all support will be pulled for a particular product, the salesman will offer an extension. Anything to buy time and keep the customer from going to a competitor. Its still a dead product though, even if one poor guy at the vendor gets stuck taking support calls for another year. Sleazy tactics like this should really prod you to move on even faster - to the competition.
Posted October 30, 2008 12:53 PM
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