Readers’ letters

Can’t get no…

Your article ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed?’ (Information Age, November 2002) made uncomfortable reading for anyone involved in the CRM or even the software industry as a whole. But in my view, to focus on one particular vendor was fascinating – but unfair. I believe that the Nucleus research [into levels of customer return on investment (ROI) among Siebel customers] was only the tip of the iceberg.

The sad fact is that the problem is industry-wide. I believe this is so much so that the current financial crisis among software providers is, in fact, spurred not by a weak economy but the perception of a lack of integrity.

Just to illustrate, I recently visited one of the world’s largest manufacturers to discuss a possible sale of our company’s customer service and support software. After repeatedly reviewing the deployment schedule, I was asked three times whether our company could implement in a timely manner. Then we reviewed the estimates several times – and still the same question was asked: “Are you sure your company can fulfil its promises of deployment and ROI while staying within this agreed-upon budget?”

I’m relieved I could answer positively, but it’s interesting that these questions had little to do with technology. They were about whether I, as a software vendor, could keep my promises.

With this in mind, I believe the industry needs reform – and corporate IT leaders should hold the industry accountable. The only way to recover integrity is to take practical steps to ensure promise-keeping is the rule, rather than the exception – steps such as allowing customers real-time implementation before commitment and agreeing success metrics with customers. Plus – and this one really shouldn’t be too much to ask – making sure that software actually works, is extremely configurable and easy to deploy and maintain.

If [vendors] don’t take steps towards corrective action to regain the industry’s reputation, the future looks bleak and the industry will find it nighimpossible to start the long, hard climb to recovery.

Greg Gianforte
CEO and founder
RightNow Technologies

CIO disconnect

I read with great interest the article ‘CIOs are less important to us now’.

The proposition that CIOs should be taken out of the decision-making process behind data warehousing and that influence be given to endusers is fundamentally flawed. The CIO performs the essential role of gatekeeper to users’ understandable requests. The CIO will ensure that the technology foundation of the company can be integrated, provides a reasonable and wellreasoned return on investment, will perform, will scale and will not set the organisation on the route of proprietary dead ends. In short, sustainability.

The alternative, I suggest, is chaos, shelfware and poor implementations that will both overrun and overspend. IT sales people will often jest about “bypassing the IT department” when they have a technology to sell that doesn’t conform to a CIO’s criteria for sustainability.

Thankfully such activities are now pretty well confined to history as the profile of the CIO has been raised to be pivotal in taking a balanced view behind technology investment. And balance is the key – the user view that is so widely espoused in your article is only one part of a complex decision.

Charles Manly
Kalido Group

Inadequate protection

According to your article ‘What’s the biggest threat to security? Ask the IT department’ [Information Age, November 2002], IT managers think that their IT staff are the biggest threat to security. Why does that not surprise me? IT security is increasingly complex and more and more companies are trying to rely on in-house expertise rather than spending time and money getting in security experts to do the job.

In-house IT staff are great – they know their systems better than anyone and they understand company politics, but nine times out of ten they are not security experts. They have knowledge of any number of different IT skills, but for something as critical as security, shouldn’t you go to an expert? Someone who keeps up to date with new threats can look at a system totally impartially, and isn’t afraid to cause waves to make sure business-critical information is safe.

So yes, your IT staff can cause you security problems, but that’s not their fault. They are expected to know ‘everything’, [yet being a] security expert is a full time job. If your IT department cause security problems, the responsibility must lie with IT management, who won’t invest in getting in the experts to get it right first time around.”

Ofir Dubovi
Business development manager

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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