UK IT directors feel frustrated with the lack of visibility and input into their IT vendors’ product roadmaps according to research released today by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group*. Three-quarters (82%) of respondents said that they would even consider changing vendors if another provided them with better visibility into their upcoming product roadmaps. Furthermore, 83% of IT directors called for better foresight in order to make more informed decisions about future updates to hardware and software. For many organisations, this lack of visibility is making it difficult for them to plan effectively at a time when the demands on IT to support the business are greater than ever before.
“It can be very frustrating for IT departments when they can’t plan ahead effectively,” said Craig Dale, Chief Executive of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group. “At a time when budgets are increasingly tight, IT departments need to be able to make sure they are fully maximising their IT investments. Therefore, it is understandable that organisations can become frustrated when IT vendors aren’t very forthcoming when it comes to sharing product roadmap information.”
One of the main obstacles for organisations and vendors to overcome is a lack of communication. 82% of IT directors stated that this was having a detrimental effect on their IT planning and strategy. This is of particular concern when two vendors merge or one is acquired, with uncertainty in the time it takes for a new product roadmap to be agreed and then communicated to users. Echoing this, the research found that 85% of IT directors were frustrated by vendors being slow to communicate their roadmap information to them.
The lack of information can sometimes force organisations to proactively look for alternatives and spend valuable money on costly customisations or alternative products in order to meet their needs. This can leave organisations frustrated when vendors then update products a few months down the line now with the functionality they require. In fact, over two-thirds (68%) of IT directors admitted they had wasted time and money on customising products.
Three-quarters of IT directors admitted they would like to speak with vendors at an earlier stage in the product development process. From a vendor’s perspective, earlier feedback would also be advantageous, as it could help decrease the number of customer change requests they receive after a product is launched.
“Many organisations have turned to user groups for the opportunity to influence product roadmaps and give them greater access to their IT vendors,” added Craig Dale. “This is not only beneficial to the end-users, but also to the vendors who can use this to better engage with customers and get feedback earlier on in the product development process. This can be a win-win situation for both vendors and their customers as it can help them both become more effective and efficient.”
The SAP UK & Ireland User Conference 2010 (sapusers.org) is taking place in Manchester, 21-23 November 2010. On the first day of the event there will be dedicated sessions delivered by SAP experts highlighting the future product roadmaps for a number of SAP modules and industry solutions.
* The survey of 100 IT directors was commissioned by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group and conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne.