The last two weeks have been fast paced and intense; and they’ve yielded more than a few gems of insight.
It started off with a few big disappointments – our bids were dropped in two competitive software and vendor selection processes, both of them RFP-driven. Both of them were open in that we had some level of engagement with the client before the formal part of the process began. We really stuck to our principles, worked to engage both organizations in a dialogue about their pains and frustrations, listened closely, and began to create a vision for the future. Regardless, the end result was that we did not make the short-list. We learned at least 10 other companies in each of the opportunities did not make the cut. Clearly we are facing some stiff competition and we’d need to do a much better job differentiating ourselves from the crowd instead of showing up like everyone else…. A very tall order for a company that didn’t yet have a website!
Hot on the heels of those disappointments we travelled to Houston for Microsoft’s major Dynamics event – Convergence 2012 and besides discovering a few really cool things in Houston like “M2” the accounting student and his cab service WeKan Taxi that provides THE BEST taxi service in Houston and little Papasitos Mexican restaurant, we learned that there are countless new ERP products and companies sprouting up and that our space is only going to get more crowded.
So, it was a fairly heavy moment for me and for our newly minted company to learn that while we were humming along nicely from a billing perspective, finding new clients and helping them understand how we are different is not going to be an easy task. On the bright side, it was wicked to get some direct recognition from Microsoft about the work we’re doing at Catapult ERP. From the Microsoft Dynamics Community Blog:
“The room was packed as NAV General Manager Dan Brown presented key meta- trends affecting and transforming the SMB business landscape; the NAV product strategy and future roadmap, a cool Sitka customer video (hence the surf boards); and a host of “gnarly” NAV 2013 demos – including the first broad public demo of the NAV Web Client.”
During the conference, I was encouraged to learn that Microsoft is starting to clarify their ERP product offerings in terms of market position, but at the same time I overheard customers and partners talk about selling tiny AX deals and competing directly against GP and NAV. I couldn’t imagine how confusing all this would be for a client trying to make a decision about ERP as not only is the product choice mind boggling but once you choose a product, how do you choose your implementation partner.
After meetings and a few parties and several conversations with partners, clients and Microsoft, I started to come to the conclusion that the path to an ERP “blue ocean” was to really drive hard into the areas of value that are totally outside the comfort zone for most services companies, to do something truly unique… so I went on the search for something new.
I saw a truly unique technology platform, hosted by Microsoft, during the last session I attended, and it would leverage a ton of our unique Catapult ERP strengths in user experience design, portals, and ERP implementation. I was pretty stoked and started to think about the implications of that and how we could leverage our core strengths to build unique value propositions in the market.
Fast forward and skip past the few days of emails and catching up from the Conference to lunch today with Mike and Neil from GrowthPoint Group. What I thought would be a lunch about common interests and opportunities turned into a discussion about value-based projects and a fundamental shift to the typical fear based ERP sales model.
What came out of that discussion was truly something transformational that will allow us to do something that Verne Harnish suggests is key to success in his book Mastering Rockerfeller Habits – that is “Create a Market.” AND that is exactly what we intend to starting next week! Ever heard of paying for an ERP implementation only when value is realized and results are delivered? Didn’t think so but soon you will.
Stay tuned to read about our ongoing experiences in building a truly unique offering in a hyper competitive space… also in case you didn’t pick up on it helpful recommendations for food, services, books and more as we work toward building Catapult ERP into an awesome company!