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Tomorrow’s Independent Software Vendor

8 Mar 2016 by Howard M Cohen

The thing that most distinguishes an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) from any other software developer is that they develop software for sale to general and/or vertical markets that are built upon a particular platform. For some it may be a flavor of SQL database. For others, it may be a hybrid application/platform like Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or a popular ERP like Microsoft Dynamics AX, SAP or Oracle Financials.

If you are an Independent Software Vendor, prepare to become the golden child to your platform provider, because for most platforms, workloads will become the name of the game.

Working with platform providers

Far from the schoolyard bully’s epithet, every platform provider is already beginning to seek and promote applications, solutions, datasets, data warehouses, data lakes or any other workloads that require more use of their platform. Microsoft Global Channel Chief Phil Sorgen has been quoted as saying, “Microsoft’s one job is to provide a platform that partners can be successful selling their solutions on.”

This, of course, presupposes that the partners Sorgen is speaking about actually have their own solutions. For the overwhelming preponderance of Microsoft partners, their definition of “solution” often involves installing more infrastructure, not more functionality.

Sorgen and other platform channel chiefs are seeking more functional solutions that will call for customers to purchase and make more use of their platforms. Who do we know that has functional solutions? You’re right if you guessed ISVs.

By definition, ISVs have what their platform providers seek most: solutions that run on their platform. And those platform providers are ready to heavily invest in helping their ISVs promote those solutions to more customers. Your products deliver more justification for the purchase of their products.

This means tomorrow’s ISVs should be planning how to help customers solve their business challenges while also consuming more of their platform provider’s services.

Start to explore these possibilities with your platform provider right now:

  • Who in their organization is responsible for keeping you happy and productive? Make that person your best friend. Have them teach you how to best leverage their resources.
  • How do you get the attention of your platform provider’s field sales force? How do you gain the opportunity to teach those field sellers how to leverage your product’s value proposition to help them sell more of their platform?
  • Does your platform provider publish guides and indices in marketplaces where customers can find your applications?
  • Would your platform provider partner with you in offering special promotions to other channel partners to encourage them to sell your applications on your partner’s platform?
  • Would your platform provider entertain pairing a free initial sample period of use of your application along with its product to raise customer awareness?
  • What programs has your platform provider developed to leverage co-marketing opportunities?

Working with tomorrow’s other service providers

Many service providers define their practice, at least in part, by the platforms they support. Some may be a Cisco shop, a Microsoft partner, an Oracle house or another.

Those service providers may be leveraging those platform providers to help market and promote their own services. For many, the bulk of their annual marketing budgets may come from that platform provider, as well as a healthy flow of leads.

Many of these service providers have already ceased selling their partners’ products because carrying them required burdensome credit or capital. For many of these, marketing funds have dried up along with the rest of the relationship.

Some have noticed that smaller vendors are still enthusiastic about co-marketing and cooperating with them in many ways. These vendors provide marketing resources as well as funds, and their leads are often even better qualified than those from major providers. Most of these smaller vendors are ISVs.

Tomorrow’s ISV will find an enthusiastic community of channel partners seeking to work beside them to promote their products along with the platform each runs on, and their own services. The relationships will shift, but not disappear.

Maturing for tomorrow

What should tomorrow’s ISV be doing today to prepare?

Focus on the packaging and marketing your products. Make sure they are mature enough to compete well in what will be an increasingly competitive market. Many infrastructure integrators are seeing customers shift to using cloud services instead of on-premises equipment. As these servicing opportunities dry up, these systems integrators will seek to develop new service practices. Some will turn to business intelligence, others to application development using code or drag-and-drop interfaces, and some will become ISVs.

ISVs, your opportunity is to be better prepared than the new entrants. Start planning today.