On the Cover
Fighting brand bigotry
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 00:00
Written by Rick Parry
There is an unspoken threat facing South African development houses today: brand bigotry. Despite being in a massive economic slump, companies are still making poor software buying decisions because they cling to the perception that if something is local, it must be inferior. Tenders for large-scale enterprise systems are still being won by large global players, while local talent is passed over.
For any of us to thrive, we need to change the culture whereby enterprises are repeatedly opting for the safe “multinational” choice in lieu of talented, but less well-known, home-grown enterprises.
Hopefully, a rapidly maturing services-oriented architecture environment and increasingly popular cloud computing models, along with modern end-to-end system monitoring tools, will change the mindsets of these corporations. This will allow companies to build best-of-breed systems that are seamless, reliable and easy to trouble-shoot.
They can buy point solutions where there is a good fit with the business’ existing processes, and bring in custom development from a strong local software development house where no shrink-wrapped product can be found.
Where there are conditions peculiar to South Africa, software houses can easily engineer around them: developing around unreliable power, or limited data centre capacity, or limited connection speeds. And every day local firms have to work to overcome negative perceptions that global software companies make better technology than local ones, before we can even start a useful conversation about what the enterprise needs to achieve its goals.
Unfortunately buying decisions are often made by corporate leaderships with limited understanding of what good technology looks like...no one ever gets fired for purchasing SAP or Oracle, for example. No one should be, as both are good products. But companies should not make decisions favouring products they’ve “heard of” as opposed to ones who suit the local market better, but do not have the marketing budgets.
Software companies in SA have to follow the example of their counterparts in the hardware and networking world – 21st century technology means they can implement the systems that work best, and are no longer taking a massive risk buying best-of-breed in software.
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