The Enterprise Software Roundtable: Another Reason IT Users Need Their Own Group

Dennis Byron

A few weeks ago, in the context of membership changes at the SOA Consortium, I opined that IT users need their own users' group. The issue is that most of the consortia and organizations in the enterprise software industry are a mix of users and suppliers basically funded by and driven by the suppliers. That's not bad in and of itself, but like some legal and political situations, even the appearance of a conflict of interest is a conflict of interest.


In the spirit of "you learn something new every day" and coincident with the election of a new Chairman at Novell, I find that the enterprise-software suppliers now have their own "no-users-allowed" group, called the Enterprise Software Roundtable.


I've been doing research on enterprise software for over 30 years and this is the first I'd heard of it (to be fair to me, it's only 12 years old). Shame on me, but judging from its Web site (or lack thereof) I'm guessing that's the way the group wants it. The "enterprise software roundtable" supposedly represents the "top 40" software suppliers and includes, according to a Google of the term, executives from SAP and... I dunno who else. I got only 58 hits in the search and most of them referred to generic roundtables at tradeshows, etc., not the organization.


Based on the search, the group seems to be based in Aspen, managed by a group called Aspen Partners, and is probably just a good excuse to go skiing in March and golfing in September at shareholders' expense. Been there, done that, so I can hardly criticize. It looks at issues such as offshoring and talent shortages in software development, which makes sense, and funds academics to do the research (maybe I'm subconsciously jealous). In fact, it may simply be the private gathering of the new Novell chairman's friends. Rick Crandall is a legend in the computer industry.


Assuming it doesn't violate anti-trust rules and whatever, I am not being critical of the roundtable. But you IT users need a counterweight. It would be a way to take back control of open source software from the suppliers, a hot topic right now. It should involve top management, not just IT. To be fair, this week's ACORD/LOMA show in Las Vegas illustrates that such groups do exist on an industry basis.


In this day and age of "social networking" (and I am first to admit I don't really understand all the ins and outs of social networking), I would think it would be easy to organize such a group. Unfortunately playing golf or skiing virtually is no where near as much fun as going to Aspen.

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