Standard roadmap vs. big customers — Part I

The enterprise software world was dominated by on-premise software providers for many decades. These on-prem providers build an amazing ecosystem of partners and development teams around them and enabled customers to build large scale heavily custom solutions for their organizations. This meant that the on-prem providers were essentially platform plays, morphing themselves to provide infrastructure and support, but staying away from driving a point of view on best practice solutions. Customers essentially ran large in-house development shops and relied on multi-millions dollar partner driven implementations. They really liked their deep customization of their solutions.

However, over time these customizations became unmanageable. Upgrading to latest version of an on-prem solution required multi-year, multi-million dollar projects. End user experience required a lot to be desired. Cost of maintaining an in house development teams were sky rocketing.

Enter SaaS vendors. Late 90s and early 2000s saw the start of disruption on the enterprise software vendor. Led by Salesforce, SuccessFactors, and Workday, these SaaS providers had a new pitch — a standard configurable software, that dramatically reduces implementation time, in-house development cost, improved UX, better security, and continuous updates. The trade-off being those pesky customizations that customers loved. Sure, some of those can be met via configurations, but many of those customizations were not available in the SaaS world.

It took a while for customers to come around, but most businesses eventually realized the value of SaaS software eventually. However, not everyone was able to transition their mindsets.

One of the biggest product management challenges in the SaaS enterprise world is handling big customers who still have an on-premise mindset. With huge deals on the table, these customers tend to demand very specific enhancement that are not normally aligned with long term priorities. In part II I will dig deeper on how to acquire these customers

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