When it comes to solution and service offering in the IT and IT security fields. Consolidation has long been a hot topic. The moment something new and innovative comes to the forefront, one of the large vendors snaps it up and buries it in their portfolio kit bag.
Wide portfolios from one particular vendor or supplier is attractive. Less paperwork and one source of everything comes to mind.
But, is it really beneficial in the end?
Maybe not. Here are five reasons why "pure-play" vendors and suppliers, those who have a specialism or particular focus, are a sensible and pragmatic choice.
1. Supplier of All, Master of None
It is an old and well used cliche, yet nonetheless very true. When a business seeks to offer more and more, how does it reconcile this with providing a complete service?
Advanced Cyber Solutions is just shy of three years old; and while we would love to offer everything. We simply cannot and so focus on our strengths instead. If we cannot supply an excellent pre-sales, professional services and technical support capability, we do not see any merit in offering them at all.
Pure-play vendors and suppliers have spent years crafting and honing their capabilities to ensure they "know their stuff". After all, they have likely built their business from the ground up, learning from their experiences and mistakes.
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2. Interoperability and Integration
You may think of this as an advantage to those vendors and suppliers who have wider portfolios. After all, isn't this the messaging they employ?
Indeed it is, however what is typically the outcome is that portfolio solutions can integrate with other portfolio solutions only. For reasons why obviously benefit that vendor or supplier.
Pure-play and specialists usually do not have the pressure of selling their wider portfolio and instead work toward integration with wide possibilities so not to stifle potential use. For example, using open standards or common protocols.
3. Active and Continuous Development
I wouldn't be the first to make this accusation, but a lot of acquisitions in particular see a significant reduction in development while the acquirer gets to grips with their new found solution.
This of course has an effect on the modernity of the solution, maybe eventually resulting in missing critical features or becoming generally tired in its look and feel.
I imagine that almost everyone who reads this could name a solution which has taken this path.
It's not to say that pure-play vendors and suppliers have never neglected their R&D budgets. However, it is much more unlikely when they are not reliant on another core solution or set of solutions for their revenue. It is very normal in our industry that pure-play vendors are the innovative ones who create something breakthrough, rather than the larger and more diversity in portfolio.
The value of disruption is not one to be ignored.
4. Diverse Portfolios Cost More
Again, this is a departure from the traditionally accepted view that larger vendors and suppliers offer better prices due to packaging of solutions.
However, consider that the larger vendors and suppliers have higher costs associated with their acquisitions. Acquiring costs money, with it comes new staff and maybe the premises or debts of the old holding organisation. There are ongoing costs associated with maintaining the less popular in their portfolio which needs to be buoyed by the more popular.
Generally, larger vendors and suppliers offer better initial prices to lure customers in. However, the renewal costs tend to be less favourable.
Have you ever wondered how it is that they afford those lavish roadshows and events each year?
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5. Smaller Equals Personalised
In my time working in this IT and IT security industries, one thing which has stood our consistently is the agility of smaller pure-play vendors and suppliers. The larger the business, the less agile it becomes by its very nature.
Take as an example the process of technical support. Smaller vendors and suppliers often have named individuals or account managers who can provide a point of contact for all issues. Sometimes even the one leading the technical support query.
Issues which are genuine defects are added to the development queue and acted on fairly promptly.
The comparison to a larger vendor or supplier is that you might have to wade through tiers of support with agents who you have never met or probably will not been put through to again. You are merely a number on their service statistics screen.
Do you have a feature request? Well, it might be acted upon...depending on how big your contribution is to the companies accounts each year.
Hardly the customer service one might expect to receive.