Team Hoyt

If you don’t feel a few tears coming up as you read this father-son story and watch the video, well you just aren’t human.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 — only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don’t keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

The problem with partner “ecosystems”

I had breakfast yesterday with a former colleague from SAP (who himself is no longer with the company) and we were talking about Teqlo. He’s a real sharp guy when it comes to composition platforms, visual tools, and self-assembly, so I really look forward to hearing his thoughts and advice. At one point he said I should deliver some SAP BPP components in my catalog of teqlets (which is just our branded term for the actual components that represent services). I said to him that yeah I would like to grow into that but that my current market focus just doesn’t make the investment worthwhile for me.

In thinking about this through the day it occurred to me that the reason I had reluctance about toward this idea has nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with the business practices and culture imposing unnecessary risk for me in my fragile little startup. Coincidentally, I saw another friend of mine just a couple of days ago as he was on this way to his he-lost-count-becuase-he-has-had-so-many meeting with SAP because the last meeting with 12 people didn’t have the right person from some group responsible for the solution spec they should be building to. Same story, different partner… happens all the time. SAP and Oracle should respect the business time that partners invest in them and the cost they are paying as a consequence, and plot the quickest path to a solution as a key deliverable of the program itself. It’s not deliberate, in other words nobody at SAP is actively looking for ways to waste a partners time, but it happens nonetheless because SAP is that self-described big ocean going liner that takes a lot of time to stop or shift course. SAP’s version of time is like the Jupiter year, about 12 Earth years, while startup time is like the Jupiter day, about 10 hours long.

The question I would throw back at SAP is “why should I invest in your partner program when I’m not going to get access to your customers, am not selling direct, you aren’t building a marketplace that will put my products in front of prospective customers, and the cost to me is so great?”. The second part of this question is the killer one, I am consciously not building a direct selling model into this business for the simple reason that CIOs don’t want to talk to startups, a point that rung very loud and clear at M.R. Rangaswami’s conference a few weeks ago, and the problems that CIOs want to solve are not what we are trying to build to… we are following the idea of selling directly to users.

This is the problem that SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM have created for themselves: they have done such a good job at hoovering up, with their services partners, every dollar in the wallet that CIOs carry that there is precious little opportunity for startups and other innovation leaders, yet all of these vendors are increasingly competing on the basis of their partner programs ability to attract partners into the ecosystem. If I can’t get to your customers either through your direct sales force or your indirect channel efforts, and your customers don’t want to talk to me independently, then why should I invest in your partner program?

That a startup like mine doesn’t see value in belonging to the NetWeaver or Fusion partner communities is something that should trouble SAP and Oracle respectively.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,