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November 23, 2008

Its not how you play the game

The days of the really big and frequent ERP implementations are well and truly over. The 1990's saw the peak of these, and the new millennium has bought with it dramatic shifts in the way we use business software.

In case anybody is still wondering; SAP won. It was a period of time where customers defined themselves by their opinions on SAP, not by whether they wanted to do it or not.

And whether Infor or Oracle are able to steal the lead from SAP now is irrelevant, the main game is moving on and they won it. Clearly.

Microsoft was the clear winner of the desktop office productivity software game. Clearly winning over Apple, Netscape, Sun and whoever else decided to throw their hat into the ring. They also clearly won the desktop operating system competition, clearly.

Technology is now moving forward. Google, Zoho, and and others are starting to move forward with a new paradigm in software

Whether OpenOffice from Sun Microsystems starts to take market share off them or not doesn't matter. Its over, Microsoft won. period!

We see this again and again in industry after industry.

Maximo won the battle for maintenance systems, now they have been sold to IBM. Business Objects won the battle in enterprise corporate analytics now they belong to SAP.

Can you see the pattern here?

Winning or losing is not clear until the game is over.

Google is clearly winning the search game, but it isn't over yet. Nothing has arisen to supplant it and there are still very large and valid players on the field. (Microsoft and Yahoo as separate or combined players both with potential and cash in hand) is clearly in the drivers seat in terms of the whole Software as a Service market. Both as the leading provider of SaaS CRM and as the leading provider of a platform for others to use to deliver SaaS programs to market.

But today there are other significant players on the field. is one of these companies that is starting to make some advances here.

The game isn't over until it is truly over. The point when your technology is obsolete, your audience has lost interest, or when you decide to take yourself out of the game.

And while it is still underway you must dedicate everything that you can to winning the game. Winning is great, winning companies and consultants earn more, get more work, get to choose their lifestyles and get to have a larger influence on how the game is played.

If the game is worth winning, and you are willing to continue playing, then you must play to win. If you don't then you are accepting second best, you are accepting considerably lower revenues and considerably lower opportunities.

Business Objects was purchased by SAP for $6.2 billion, Cognos was purchased for a net value of $4.9 billion. Maximo was sold for $740 million while Mincom, which was third or fourth in this sector sold for  around $200 million.

And lets not even start to compare revenues at Microsoft with Apple for software over the 80's and the 90's.

if the game is on, and you want to play, then you must play to win. Anything less is unfair to your company, your employees, the shareholders and your clients.