Focus on Solutions, Not Technologies

Opinion: Labs Analyst Michael Caton would like to see vendors provide more common solutions in prepackaged formats in 2006.

With the holidays in full swing, I thought Id mention a few gifts Id like to see from the vendor Santa Claus to make 2006 a little better.

Tops on my list is a focus on providing solutions rather than technology. Without products, solutions cant happen, but Id like to see more common solutions in prepackaged formats from vendors. In the past couple of years, this has been happening, but like the overstimulated kid who discards a present the minute it has been opened, I want more!

For example, companies such as FileMaker have been selling specific solutions based on the FileMaker database for managing businesses and nonprofits for a little over a year. Few people want to buy a database: They want to buy a tool that helps manage contacts, inventory and billing.

Id also like to see the discipline that developers of hosted applications have been showing when it comes to extensibility and customization being applied in the world of packaged applications. isnt perfect by any means, but at least customers can have a high degree of certainty that the customizations they make will not break when Salesforce rolls out a quarterly upgrade. The relative success of Salesforce has a lot to do with providing a solution rather than a technology, but a big part of that solution is a defined scope of what Salesforce is and how to make it work with other systems. The nice thing about Salesforce is that while it may be the staid holiday sweater, both the tacky blinking holiday tie and the elegant monogrammed shirt will work with it.

Of course, further use of open standards will make the new year brighter as well. With technologies becoming more transparent and readily adapted, companies should be able to share information and innovate both internally and externally. That Microsoft has opened up the Office black box to even a limited degree should make it easier for companies to manage document-based communication.

The final thing I would like to see is more competition in the marketplace and less in the patent office. Oh, one more thing: I also want to see less money spent lobbying Congress to stick a thumb in the eye of the technology buyer and more spent developing products and services that are worth paying for.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at