Less than fours years after our first sale, we’re hugely impressed with the number and caliber of big enterprise customers that have adopted our solution. These include some of the world’s biggest financial, professional, technology and manufacturing companies. It’s encouraging to see a growing number of small software vendors have this kind of success in their early years.
However, it remains common for small software vendors like us to experience excessively long enterprise sales cycles. This is usually because large companies operate risk-averse procurement policies, they wait for late product maturity and budgets don’t account for new solutions.
So in order to avoid the pain of instigating change, large companies tend to just renew outdated software with their current service providers and fail to free up budget for innovative new solutions that achieve cost savings and superior operational efficiencies.
Here are five reasons why big companies should buy more software from small software vendors:
1. Small software vendors innovate
Some of the most successful enterprise software vendors of the last decade, such as Salesforce or Palo Alto Networks, started small. They each delivered important innovations in their respective areas. Did companies who adopted Salesforce or Palo Alto networks early, gain a competitive advantage? With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that the answer is yes, absolutely.
This is no different for the current crop of emerging enterprise software companies. For example, we work with a large professional services firm who deployed Box very early on. Consultants at this firm were able to collaborate on documents from anywhere at any time, share files securely and conveniently with customers, make last minute edits to customer presentations and beam the latest version from their iPhones. And they could do this long before competitors embraced cloud storage solutions, leading to significant productivity gains.
Small software vendors bring important innovations to big companies that result in a competitive advantage, so don’t wait until everyone else in your industry beat you to it.
2. Customers can influence the product roadmap
Since technology platforms and unique requirements change rapidly, product influence and steadfast feature delivery from your software vendor are crucial.
It’s worrying to see how many big companies rely on vendors that fundamentally aren’t able to offer this. For example, we’re working with a major pharmaceuticals company who utilizes an established business intelligence (BI) vendor for a number of mobile reporting applications. Eight months after the release of iOS 9, the apps were still not compatible leaving over 80 percent of the 20,000 strong workforce without access to crucial business information on mobile devices. This happened despite escalations to the most senior level. The productivity drain caused by such a scenario is real and costly for the business.
All small software vendors are setup for fast and frequent releases and big customers can influence the product roadmap to get their feature requests delivered quickly. For example, an enterprise customer on the Wandera platform benefits from an average of two feature deliveries per quarter.
3. Small software vendors have more accessible CEOs
There’s a simple rule in business: when things go wrong or you need to get things done quickly, talk to the CEO to get it fixed. However, it’s not that easy to get a slot with the CEO of Cisco if you’re competing for face time with every other customer in the global Fortune 2000.
Not too long ago, one of our large customers in the oil and gas industry sent an email to our CEO asking for help. At a big vendor, the CEO may forward this type of email to his or her relevant lieutenants which would cause a flurry of panic and activity until it filters down far enough where all urgency is lost. Not at Wandera. The next day the customer had lunch with our CEO who listened to our customer’s concerns and oversaw a solution within the next two weeks himself.
If you’re not important enough to get meaningful access to the CEO at a large vendor, it’s unlikely you’ll receive the customer service that you want.
4. Bang for your buck
Custom software development is expensive and the UX is inferior. For that reason, companies embrace standard solutions (now often delivered as SaaS) for the vast majority of their business applications. SaaS solutions always offer a better price point, and support and deployment are typically priced into the subscription options. Given the complexity involved in large deployments, big companies should always look for licensing deals including end-to-end service delivery. Small software vendors typically work much harder to offer customers a single price covering everything over the contract term to guarantee no hidden costs.
Some emerging vendors such as Slack have taken the model for business software to another level offering complete flexibility. You can move up and down in subscription as you test, adopt, hire and fire in real-time offering a true pay as you go experience and ultimately the best value for money.
5. Upward strategic relevance
Big companies should look to fast-growing vendors to help them solve niche software requirements where large vendors aren’t focused. The downside risk is small when a niche project fails while there’s significant upside in working with a promising vendor. As product maturity and adoption grows, the small software vendors will expand their products to adjacent or completely new areas to help you solve bigger and bigger problems.
For example, one of the world’s largest accounting firms adopted our solution three years ago to help them control and reduce the costs of data consumption on employee iPhones. When a different group within the firm launched a mobile security RFP last year, they selected us as well. Since our deployment to solve problem A (costs of mobile data), we successfully added product capabilities to solve problem B (security of mobile data) and the ability to benefit from one contract, one helpdesk, one roll-out plan, etc. reduced project costs by 35%.
This upward strategic relevance of small software vendors leads to significant cost savings and speed to solve new problems over time.
With all these points in mind, it seems that bigger is not always better, especially in the software industry. The most important thing is to choose the solution, not the company. Treat your solution evaluation process like a blind taste test focusing on the power of the solution while blocking out any preconceptions formed by company reputation.