For Software AG, there's a gap to fill; a Nordic event starts to show what's possible
November is a busy month for events and for travel, and this week I’ve been in Stockholm for Software AG’s Nordic Process Forum. I was invited to give a presentation, as well as to help facilitate a lunchtime roundtable discussion. [For anyone who's interested, a chunk of the presentation shared content from our Digital Enterprise presentation on SlideShare].
This wasn’t a huge event, but Software AG didn’t aim to create one. What the company did do—and it did so very well IMHO—is create a lively, energetic small-scale event powered by its Nordic customer community. I relished talking to a great crowd, and participating in great conversations between peers working through thorny problems.
One of the things that I think made the event successful—from my perspective at least—was that there was a great mix of people present with a blend of business-led and IT-led concerns. This is perhaps a natural consequence of Software AG’s portfolio of products—which now spans ARIS (Process Modeling, EA) and Alfabet (Portfolio Management, EA) to webMethods, Terracotta and Apama.
Nevertheless, what was very enlightening and enjoyable was coming across customers from these different backgrounds sharing ideas and experiences with each other.
I think the Nordic countries perhaps together represent ideal territory for companies like Software AG—as someone said to me at lunch, there’s a strong culture of looking for best-of-breed technologies rather than just going for wholesale stack buy-in. And although it’s always dangerous to over-generalise, in general (oops, I just did it) there’s a tendency within Nordic organisations—as is the case with organisations from a lot of the rest of Northern European countries—to be pretty analytical and focused on requirements, modeling and architecture to understand problems and solutions as opposed to jumping into new technologies quickly and definitively. (This isn’t always an out-and-out good thing, of course.)
From my perspective, a significant opportunity and challenge for Software AG continues to be to find a way to bridge the gap between those ARIS and Alfabet customers documenting processes and architectures and managing portfolios; and those webMethods, Terracotta and Apama customers dealing largely with IT implementation concerns. More events like this—providing a route to business development through direct customer conversations—could be a great way to make this happen.
Of course the gap is still pretty wide: just getting customers to listen to each other present isn’t going to be enough in itself. Another key part of what Software AG has to do is to find ways of telling stories and packaging its products that can introduce the value of aspects of ‘automation’ to those who’ve historically been ‘analysers and documenters’; and vice versa.
It’ll be interesting to see how Software AG takes up this challenge going forward. It seems to be spending more effort pulling together and talking about propositions around broad business-IT capabilities, rather than selling individual technology products; there’s more to do, but the company does have the right idea—at l(e)ast.
If you have any thoughts or comments on Software AG’s business or on Nordic business-IT stereotypes, please tell me in the comments section below!