I hope the title of this SiliconIndia blog post ("Is Software a Dead Baby?") is either some kind of subcontinent idiom or a misquote of Mark Benioff's "Sammy Davis/Rat Pack" speech pattern. But the questions Amar Singh, CEO of Amitive, asks and answers are thought-provoking. I just don't agree with his conclusion.
Neither enterprise software nor SOA are "dead." In his post, Amar identifies the stakeholders as customers, software suppliers and systems integrators/consultants. Most of the costs and frustration Amar identifies in customer meetings come from the systems integrators/consultants, not the software suppliers. SAP took a lot of heat recently about an installation at a bankrupt jewelry company. Josh Greenbaum got all over the story and explained that the problem was with the consulting company that installed the SAP software, and the jewelry company itself. The counterpoint is that too much of many large enterprise software providers' revenue is dependent on their own consulting professional-services groups.
The enterprise software suppliers that are succeeding today and into the future are the ones that are cutting the systems integrator and other consultants out of the equation. It should just work when you download it and an increasing amount of it does. Amar claims his software, Amitive, can provide such plug and play/no-consultant-needed capability for supply chain management delivered as a service (SaaS). I don't know if that's true, but that's what you should look for and expect in your enterprise software procurements.
Ninety percent to 95 percent of enterprise software functionality is the same company to company, as long as you look for software tuned to your specific industry. That's the reason the software market is consolidating, and individual suppliers are broadening their industry-specific footprint. It's not because they are ignoring customers; it's in response to customer needs.
Your IT development and customization resources should then be concentrated on the remaining 5 percent, where you can establish some competitive differentiation. And in some industries and situations (e.g., government, education, highly regulated industries), there is almost no reason for such competitive differentiation. In that case, concentrate IT resources on improving employee productivity and supplier/customer interaction; let the software do the work.
I do agree with Amar that software as a service (SaaS) has an important place in your procurement and almost always needs to be considered in this 95 percent / 5 percent analysis. Farm out the stuff that doesn't provide you competitive differentiation. But don't pay by the drink, which is what many SaaS suppliers-who are of course just enterprise software suppliers-want you to do. I prefer software that can be delivered either on-premise or on-demand. That gives you the most choice.