The eighth point in our “Ten ways to tell if your enterprise software provider is open” series is on the topic of finding validation of openness and connectedness through others, basically taking an indirect approach to finding the information.
Much like the prior piece, “Proof, pudding and products in an open ecosystem,” we are looking for information based on actual experiences. In this case, you’ll want to understand the experience that software product partners have when trying to integrate with the enterprise software provider. You’ll also want to know what other joint clients say.
Ask a Product Partner
When asking a product partner, there are two question you should pose to better understand the ecosystem provider’s approach to being open and connected:
1. What was your experience in integrating with ecosystem sponsor product name?
Here we are seeking to understand a number of items including:
- Technologies available for integration (file transfer, APIs, etc.)
- Engagement of the ecosystem sponsor in the integration process
- Depth and breadth of the testing process
- Process to maintain connectivity as each side advances their respective product
- Responsiveness to issue identification and correction
2. How does that experience compare to other ecosystem sponsors?
Here you are seeking to understand the relative approach and commitment of the ecosystem sponsor compared to the other sponsors that the product partner may have engaged with. Since your choices are likely contained to the close competitors, the relative measure is the easiest way to rank the major players in your space.
To have your best chance at uncovering the real experience, you’ll need to get as close as possible to the folks who were responsible for building the integration. Pose these questions to product-oriented resources (product management, product development, support or professional services).
Ask a Reference
To augment info gained from product partners, it is also wise to ask these questions of existing “joint” clients who are already using the integrations between solutions. You can get these references from either the ecosystem sponsor or the product partner. You should also query your own network of industry peers for self-sourced (unbiased) references.
You are seeking the same info here that was asked of the product partner (see list above).
In addition, you may also consider inquiring about:
- User experience across the applications
- Timeliness of data movement
- Opportunities for integrated reporting
- Helpful tools for any needed reconciliation between systems
- Conditions or practices that have proven to be challenging
- Post-implementation impressions about overall value derived from the integration and use of multiple solutions
By gathering feedback on real integration experiences from both partners and existing joint clients, you should be able to get a clear picture of how the words of the ecosystem sponsor manifest in the actual execution of integration tactics.
If these third parties are forthright in their feedback, you will gain great insight into real experiences with your ecosystem provider and their approach to being open and connected.