While there are plenty of companies
that we compete against, we believe the real competition isn’t about product
functionality or usability, it’s about time, money and risk.
The requisite web-based functionality
that’s integrated with SAP is assumed. You have to be able to place
and track orders. You have to display personalized pricing and real
time availability. You have to have a flexible security model that
allows different roles to have varying permissions. If these (and
many more) features don’t exist, and if they aren’t integrated with
SAP, you don’t make the short list.
Unfortunately for us, as evidenced by
many of the B2B websites in production, usability doesn’t seem to be
an evaluation criterion. In the B2B market, manufacturer’s get away
with offering their captive users a horrific web experience.
According to web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, “The average B2B user experience is not very supportive of
customers. As a result, the websites fail to provide business
We recently had one company, who was in
the process of implementing SAP’s CRM, rate our usability 2X better
than SAP’s. So why aren’t they doing business with us? That’s a
whole other story :-).
While most customers won’t articulate
it this way, time is actually the key attribute that we compete
against. The other attributes, money and risk flow from time.
Let me explain.
What we’ve learned in the last several
months is that customers are enduring 9-18 month long projects
before their first web order is submitted. Regardless of whether
they’re starting with SAP products (CRM or Internet Sales ), purchasing a third party application from Click Commerce or Insight Commerce,
rolling their own with Microsoft’s .net or with open source
technologies, or outsourcing the whole project to the likes of IBM or
Deloitte consulting, they’re waiting 9-18 months to go into
We’ve also heard of project team sizes
of 3-5 consultants, many of whom are in high demand and consequently
command high rates. Try and keep them together for a year or so, and
you can see how project costs rapidly approach the $1M – $3M price
points that we’ve been hearing…even if the software licenses they use were
given away for free.
In addition, the longer the project lives, the greater the chances that risks manifest themselves.
Requirements will change, sponsorship will waiver, team members will
turnover and technology will evolve. All conspiring against
realizing the anticipated value of the eCommerce initiative.
Our answer is speed.
Our product and implementation
methodology are designed for speed. If you’re in production in 60
days, you avert potential disasters, save a lot of costs and
accelerate the value to be derived from the project.
So, while we know we have great
functionality and a clever intuitive design, we’ll beat our competition on
time. That will make our projects cheaper and safer, and quicker to deliver real business value.
We’ll do business with clients who
value their time.