Saturday, April 24, 2010

Product v Services

Coming back from Oracle Collaboration 2010 show this week, it struck me what a difference having a product makes to our business. Talking to so many partners at this event, it is clear that the fact the OpenSpan technology is delivered as a product is key. That it can be installed in less than a minute enabling automation and integrations to be built with minimal training (online even), is a massive advantage.

On speaking with them, I found a large number had tried "competitive" products in the past but each time their business units got frustrated they had to build a complex services engagement around each deal that requires a lot of support once (and if) that customer went live. I pull out my laptop and show them a 3 minute demo and they get it - we are a true product! I can show them how to automate or integrate with an SAP activeX control grid in 10 seconds, or a Siebel app with embedded java applets or a custom windows app built over 10 years ago!  It's so nice. I can even tell them where to go to download a free copy now. Now that's "putting your money where you mouth is" IMHO :) I don't know a single competitor that can do that!

I can tell these partners we have tons of live customers (that they can call for references), large and small that installed our "product" around or on top of competing products in the past (where our competitors failed to deliver before us, despite being in that account first).  One such customer brought 2000 seats back about 4 years ago. They have since added approximately 1000 more seats each year, and now at 6000 users. Another customer, sold to over 3 years ago, is now at over 20,000 live seats. Now that's not just proof we work, but proof we stand the test of time in real accounts and use cases are being found all the time to keep building on the value.

For these partners, I can also tell them our product is also OEM'd or embedded into loads of other products as well. Like at IBM and Aspect. Sure these companies could have chosen to build their own solutions but we are good at what we do and can prove to our partners, we can deliver them what they need to help close deals with their customers. Again, tons of existing customers and partners that prove we can do it.

What a lot of people do not know when I joined OpenSpan, was that I told them, "unless you have a product, I am not interested in being involved". I had seen too many so called products fail at customer sites by frustrating them on being oversold on ease of use. There is no silver bullet for integration but I think OpenSpan is one of the closest you'll see. One example, I have seen a customer build a solution, installed into production, with 1 person in under 12 weeks and that solution saves that customer around $2m a month. I know it sounds unbelievable but before OpenSpan, they had no choice but to do everything manually. Another customer, looking at it another way, will save over $300m through automation over a 3 year period. Now that's an ROI :)

We at OpenSpan are also not standing still. Each time we deliver, not only will our "PRODUCT" be better at saving you more $money, but it'll get easier and easier to do each time.

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