CIOs: it is time to free your enterprise from vendor shackles

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Vendor lock-in poses significant risks for organizations. Firms which are tied into a vendor’s support services are less agile, with a blunted competitive advantage and increased exposure to risks. And when you are trapped in a single provider’s ecosystem, diversification becomes expensive, if not impossible. Nowhere is this starker than in ERP software support – where organizations often feel constrained by their maintenance contracts (which are provided by the vendors themselves) or pressured to adopt their vendor’s upgrade roadmap or cloud strategy.

Crucially, these pressures don’t just create day-to-day operational challenges. Over the long term, they can hold organizations back and limit their capacity to innovate.

Attention all CIOs! It’s time to question whether your ERP vendor is really delivering on the support and maintenance you deserve. Are those upgrades – the ones touted by vendors like SAP and Oracle – necessary to remain competitive?

Although these upgrades may offer incremental benefits, they are rarely in alignment with each organization’s unique vision and strategy. The bottom line? A substantial portion of IT budgets is allocated to patching and upgrade projects, often leading to support costs that can quickly surpass the original licensing fees in just a few short years.

That’s not all. The true cost goes beyond just the (large) dollar amount. It also affects resource allocation and planning, potentially slowing you down – or stopping you entirely – from focusing on your own business imperatives.

For organizations to genuinely future proof themselves, they must ask the difficult question: "Is our budget best invested in routine upgrades and patching or in groundbreaking innovation that can actually make a difference?"

Vendor support relationships are facing growing skepticism, and many organizations are reaping the rewards of breaking free from their vendor’s support shackles. Here’s what you’ll gain when you do:

Iain Saunderson

CTO at Spinnaker Support.

An improved commitment to security

Moving away from traditional vendor support, CIOs can still strengthen their security infrastructures against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. Despite what your vendor may have told you, looking beyond their support offering may enhance your organization’s overall security posture.

How? A proactive approach to vulnerability management means more than just waving through your vendor’s patches. It means working to reduce your overall attack surface and identifying opportunities for vulnerability management that can have the most impact – something you may not have had time for previously. Vendor software patching is time-consuming and requires a huge effort from IT teams because they impact large functional areas of the application that may not have experienced any issues but require lengthy test and deployment phases. What you need is a personalized, holistic approach to your application support needs. This is precisely what a third-party software support partner will offer you.

You’ll also gain actionable insights, advanced security support, an understanding of your most exploitable vulnerabilities and how to remediate them, and assistance with devising robust security controls that will evolve with your unique security needs. This proactive approach ensures your vulnerabilities are addressed.

We know what you’re thinking: what about regulatory compliance? Your software support partner will work directly with you to ensure you are still able to remain compliant, whether that’s data, payment card protection or healthcare information.

These security features are not a bonus, or add on, to your support contract. You won’t have to be running the latest version of Oracle or SAP to be eligible. Your software support partner can elevate your security posture regardless of your software version, offering an end-to-end approach and ensuring compliance with evolving security regulations and a complex regulatory environment.

Interoperability: the gateway to innovation?

Imagine this: a world where interoperability is truly the combination of innovation and enterprise functionality. This can be achieved when organizations unshackle themselves from vendor-imposed constraints, allowing them to architect and deploy integrations and customizations tailored to their unique IT environments. Currently, too many organizations find that their ability to innovate and break free from conventional boundaries is stifled by vendor-controlled end-of-support announcements.

Today’s IT infrastructures are vast and ever-growing. They’re made up of operating systems, databases, encryption standards, and more. Ensuring optimal software performance in this environment is a must, but many vendors simply don’t offer the depth of interoperability support that modern organizations – especially those relying on legacy software versions – need.

Of course, interoperability challenges increase with every new addition to your organization’s software portfolio. These challenges might relate to data, security, governance, or operations. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter which aspect of your business is affected – what matters is that you must master interoperability. So, how?

With a third-party support partner, enterprises can ensure their software investments are optimized for interoperability with external systems and surrounding technologies. This requires an intimate understanding of not just the vendor’s product but also the broader technological context, ensuring adherence to industry standards. With this insight and expert support, organizations can optimize their systems for the long-haul, improving the longevity and ROI of their IT investments, as well as gaining the freedom to innovate, unburdened by vendor restrictions or demands.

Many CIOs – people usually known for their resilience and adaptability – have found themselves in a tight spot. They're balancing the need for innovation, while ensuring that their systems remain stable and efficient – a task made ever more challenging in an era of almost exponential technological growth.

Amplifying this pressure is the perceived obligation many organizations feel towards committing to their ERP vendor’s offerings, upgrades, and priorities – and the fear of losing critical security support if they don’t cater to their vendor’s every demand.

The future of business will be shaped by the decisions organizations make today. By revisiting and redefining support structures and vendor dynamics, companies can not only optimize resources, but also benefit from improved systems support, security, and integration. It’s about strategic choices, smart partnerships, and a focus on the future.

So, CIOs: free yourself from your vendor’s support shackles, and see how you’ll benefit from a renewed focus on innovation and growth.

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Iain Saunderson is CTO at Spinnaker Support.