The Digital Transformation Declaration of Independence

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: July 4, 2019

In the US, we celebrate our independence every July 4. While this is not a recognized holiday in most parts of the world, it is worth striving for independence in certain facets of business and digital transformation.

The ERP software and digital transformation industries have long been ruled by incumbents that we should be striving to be free from. SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft are largely forcing their customers to upgrade to new solutions, while ERP systems integrators and industry analysts are all towing the same software vendor company lines. These biases and lack of customer focus are the things we should all be rebelling against.

With this in mind, I suggest that we create our own declaration of independence from the economic forces of the ERP software and digital transformation industry.

Works of desolation and tyranny

The original US declaration of independence calls out the “works of death, desolation, and tyranny.” While ERP systems may not be resulting in death, there is a certain amount of tyranny that comes from the large ERP software vendors and big ERP systems integrators. While they have their user groups and user boards to gather customer input, users of the technology are largely at the mercy of these big guys. Examples of SAP failures at Revlon and other companies, Microsoft Dynamics 365 failures, and other types of ERP disasters could certainly be viewed as the desolation and tyranny that the US government was fighting against.

Imposing taxes without consent

Part of being at the mercy of the software vendors and systems integrators includes costs that have not been agreed to by its customers – and in many cases, these are unnecessary costs. For example, we are getting bombarded with inquiries from SAP customers that are uncertain of what to do about SAP’s 2025 deadline to migrate away from ECC. Even though customers haven’t consented to make these sorts of changes, arbitrary decisions like these are having material impacts on customers cost, risk, and efficiency profiles.

Arbitrary government

The US also rebelled against what it perceived to be an arbitrary government. In the ERP space, vendors and systems integrators have arbitrary ways of managing customers’ digital transformations. Problems such as economic biases negatively influencing digital transformations, critical gaps in transformation approaches such as SAP’s Activate methodology and the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sure Step methodology, and other aspects of the wild, wild west of the ERP system are creating an arbitrary and unpredictable environment for ERP customers.

The right to the pursuit of happiness

Over the years, I have seen digital transformations create far too much stress and disrupt the careers of too many CIOs and executives. I don’t expect that ERP implementations will be fun anytime soon, but organizations and their enterprise software industry partners need to do a better job of managing stress in ERP implementations. At the end of the day, digital transformations should lead to more efficient organizations and business value – not negative results.

Absolution from allegiance to the crown

Over 200 years ago, the founders of the US were seeking “absolution from allegiance to the crown.” The end result of the revolution against what was perceived to be an oppressive government led to a new, independent country. Today’s customers of ERP systems and digital transformation technologies are facing similar pressures and forces.

What will organizations do today to absolve themselves from the ruling incumbents of the ERP software industry? Will they find a way to break free from their rule?

As always, feel free to contact me to discuss how to take back control of your digital transformation! I am happy to be a sounding board for you and your team as you continue your journey.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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