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Customers Typology: The Captive who Knows Everything

One of the posts in the Customers Typology series was titled: Customers Typology: The Captive. I described The Captive as: "The Captive Customer's opinion is that someone else is the Oracle. He will do whatever the Oracle will say". Frequently the Oracle is a Software and/or Hardware vendor.

Another post was titled: Customers Typology: The Customer who Knows Everything. I described customer of that type as: "This Customer type is sure that he knows more than anyone else. He is also sure that his understanding is better than any body's understanding".

Would you imagine that there is another customer type combining both types? 

You probably hardly believe that this type is not a fiction story.

If he is a Captive, he will do exactly what his Captor will recommend.   
If he Knows Everything, he will follow only his opinion.

The best way to describe this type is by example. The example is of a long time ago Case Study.

IT Consulting Assignment 
A non-Information Technology friend called me. He is performing an Audit for a CEO. Is it possible that I will join him in order to address the IT aspects?
I accepted the challenge.

The Background
The most Business Critical Application was developed many years ago. The IDE is obsolete. Only one employee has the skills required for maintaining the application.
It is clear that the system should be developed from scratch using a Mainstream IDE.

A Large development Project was initiated. After two years the development completed. 

The IT department built the same functionality and the same processes included in the old system without functional changes. They thought that it is only Technical transformation: usage of a new IDE instead the obsolete IDE. 

Unfortunately, The Business Customer, who was not participated in the development process (and probably was notified about the Development Project after its completion), thought that the new system does not address his requirements properly.

How should the CEO solve the problem?

1. The organization built a new system. 

2. The organization spend a lot of money and human resources. 

3. The new System probably do not address the Business Customer needs. 

The key questions to ask are:

1. What should the organization do in order to minimize the damage?
Should it rebuild the system again? should it adapt the system to the Business users needs? or should it ask the Business users to adapt to the system?

2. What lessons should be learned from the failure?

The CEO decided to do an audit by external Subject Matter Expert. He chose my friend as the external  Subject Matter Expert.

A note about Business and IT Gap
SOA is about Business and IT Alignment. Every time I am lecturing on SOA, I talk about the Business-IT Gap before diving into technical details. If you read posts in my blog, you may find that I repeat and repeat this idea. Read for example:

Will Business and IT Aligned?

SOA and SCS

STKI Summit 2011 - SOA Perspective: Business Services or only Integration 

This Case Study is an example I am using to describe to my students Business-IT Gap as part of my SOA lecture.

My Role
My role in the audit was to evaluate the Information Technology aspects of the system.

When my friend told me which IDE was selected, I told him immediately that it is a wrong decision.
I also told him that I am capable of bringing the vendor's employees and they will support my viewpoint about the IDE their company developed.

Why would employees recommend not to use their company's products?
The company already developed a lot better IDE. They prefer that customers use a good product and not a limited product. I guess that in 3-5 years the vendor will not support the old IDE.

The customer was a Captive Customer. I would surely recommend usage of the new IDE developed by the same vendor. 

How come that the Customer was a Captive and a Customer who Knows Everything simultaneously?
The answer is simple: If he were not a Customer who Knows Everything, he would ask for the Vendor's experts recommendation.

I am 100% sure that anyone working for the Vendor and any good external Consultant will recommend usage of the new and better IDE (under the assumption that it should be an IDE developed by this vendor). 


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More Stories By Avi Rosenthal

Ari has over 30 years of experience in IT across a wide variety of technology platforms, including application development, technology selection, application and infrastructure strategies, system design, middleware and transaction management technologies and security.

Positions held include CTO for one of the largest software houses in Israel as well as the CTO position for one of the largest ministries of the Israeli government.