When asked recently about his new putter a few hours before teeing off on Sunday, professional golfer Matt Kuchar responded, “It’s usually the Indian, not the arrow.”
One could write a book about that statement.
In golf, it’s facile to blame your poor performance (exclusively) on your clubs because they don’t swing themselves. Of course, that doesn’t stop many hacks from doing it, especially after a second ball flies into the woods. Golf companies spend tens of millions of dollars annually convincing 25 handicaps that they can radically transform their games by buying the latest and most expensive clubs. In point of fact, the clubs don’t matter nearly as much as the person doing the swinging. Give me Phil Mickelson’s top-of-the-line irons and I certainly won’t be breaking 70 anytime soon. I’m just not that good.
The same holds true in the enterprise software space. Sure, it’s entirely unreasonable to expect people to track their sales of their best customers on pen and paper. I have never seen anyone in a large organization manually writing journal entries in an old-school ledger. Five years ago, however, I worked at one organization that wrote manual checks with a corporate checkbook. (Hey, HR and payroll are often the last to get with program, right?)
Buying powerful ERP and CRM systems can certainly yield significant benefits and savings, especially when the organization had been on the right of the technology adoption lifecycle. The same holds true for data quality applications. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that many organizations would benefit from buying them. I’m hard-pressed to think of a more underserved area of IT. But buying them is not the same as deploying them effectively and ensuring that employees use them in ways that make sense.
There’s no difference between enterprise software and sporting equipment. Yes, the “best” of each can help, but it all comes back to the Indian and the arrow. How you use either is paramount to what you’re using.
What say you?