Last week I had written about the fact that product demonstrations – regardless of what product or service is being presented, often falls into the features, functions and benefits trap of showcasing the technology itself without a practical reference point or everyday, real-world context of where it will work.
In short, vendors such as an Oracle or SAP tout their technological prowess first and foremost as the means by which the end-user client will solve all of their challenges relative to achieving efficiencies and savings. Unfortunately, technology in and of itself will not deliver the expected results in the absence of front-line experience and expertise. Or more to the point, technology has to reflect a practical understanding of the real-world to effectively adapt to the client environment.
For this reason, while technology first companies rarely get it right, the emerging SaaS companies, who’s evolution usually follows or tracks the industry specific application framework, are now rising to the challenge of filling the void of failed expectations. These players, such as Elcom who’s origins are first and foremost as a buying company which offered their services on an outsourcing basis to clients, are knowledge-based players within a specific practice or discipline such as procurement.
This means that the solutions which are now being offered on a hosted or non-hosted basis were developed as a practical extension of improving the vendor’s own service levels under a outsourced service model.
Along the lines of a doctor heal thyself sentiment, Elcom’s PECOS system for example works today because it first worked for Elcom themselves in their role as a third-party buying organization. This of course is where the old industry specific application development model to which I had referred earlier comes into play.
Back in the heady MAI Basic Four days of application development . . . there’s a blast from the proverbial past, professionals within a specific sector would invest in the development of their own solutions as a means of driving greater savings and bottom line profitability for their respective organization.
Once the prescribed solution was up an running and producing the desired results, someone in finance usually had a flash of insight which suggested that there are many other organizations similar to theirs within the same sector who could probably benefit from the application they had developed and were now using successfully.
Besides benefiting these fellow sector users, finance reasoned that it was also an ideal way to recoup the internal investment in application development through the sale of a license or better yet, pay-per-use fee. The rest as they say is history.
This then brings us back full circle to today’s post and, the following audio synchronized demo of the Elcom PECOS system that was referenced a few weeks ago during my interview with Oakland Unified School District procurement direct Michael Moore.
Given that Elcom first made the PECOS system work for their own organization before introducing it to the market as a bonafide industry solution so many years ago (Lisa Young who led the session is originally a buyer who has been with the company for 17 years), is the very lens through which you should view the demo, and in particular the corresponding dialogue. You will soon discover that while technology is certainly a part of what Elcom offers, it is the deep rooted expertise in purchasing that makes their approach and SaaS-based software noteworthy.
Audio-synchronized PowerPoint: hit the Play or arrow button to start demo*
*Note: hit the forward button (the arrow to the right of the play button to view/listen to specific segments of the demo)