The developed world is gloriously full of sparkly new things to tempt us. On balance, that’s probably a good thing as we need consumer demand to keep our factories, shops and service businesses open and, in turn, keep us all in work and able to buy the sparkly new things. I think you need to take care though.
A few weeks ago I was driving up the M5 motorway from one customer in Somerset to another in Lancashire. I stopped off in the midlands to get something to eat and (somehow!) found myself outside the dealer of my favourite motorcycle manufacturer checking out the latest models.
One had active suspension with automatic anti-dive and a stability control system that detected how far over the bike was leaning and adjusted the braking accordingly. Amazing stuff. After a few minutes, a friendly chap in an orange polo shirt came out and asked me what I was currently riding. When I told him, he was quick to inform me that the newer model had more advanced fuel management and a bigger petrol tank and that I’d be able to go about 20% further between fills. For motorcycle touring, this is a fairly persuasive point!
As I stood there wondering whether to blow a big chunk of disposable income on being able to ride 20% further and have less, umm, ‘dive’ I got to wondering about all of the other technology we buy and specifically the Enterprise Resource Planning products that my company works with.
Our customers are under constant pressure, much of it self-inflicted I have to say, to upgrade to the latest versions and exploit the latest new features. Of course, some of these new features can deliver enormous business benefit if used appropriately but the same is also true of the many unused features that reside in the older versions of software our customers already have.
In my working life, I would estimate that around 75% of my customers tell me that they’ve invested in complex and highly capable software but they aren’t really using it to its full potential. The studies we do of their business processes generally bear this out. These are often the same people and businesses who pressure themselves to upgrade. After all, if you’re only using 5% of ERP 1.0 then it makes perfect sense to upgrade to the ‘20% more functional’ ERP 2.0 and only use 4% of that, right?!
I’m not saying for a second that we shouldn’t ever change our motorcycles or ERP applications. Things like supportability, regulatory factors and those new features that really are perfect for your needs all play a part. But I’d argue that the decision to upgrade shouldn’t be close to being your first recourse.
For less than the cost of an upgrade, you could retrain whole sections of your staff, carry out a process overhaul and identify those most in need of your attention. You could even add on some sparkly complimentary products to manage specialist tasks and deliver some change. Just think how happy the board would be at the savings!
Back at the motorcycle dealer, I eventually wandered off, driven by the distraction of hunger and a slight feeling of melancholy. That night, after a bit of hotel-room internet searching I discovered an auxiliary fuel tank system for my bike that will increase its range by 25% and cost an awful lot less than a new bike. It even came with a fun afternoon in the garage pretending to be a proper mechanic while I fitted it.
I’m going to use the money I saved to actually go to some exciting places on my bike. There’s only so much time you can spend on the M5…
Andy started Vanilla, along with Jason in 2009 . Despite being something of an ERP ‘geek’ he is passionate about not complicating things and delivering what the client needs.
Andy likes to split his time between working with his customers on projects, running the business and supporting Abigail with new business development.
If you need Andy’s assistance, click here to contact him today