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Why -you don’t get fired for buying IBM- is no longer true

(602 words; 2 min) “you never got fired buying IBM”. The old adage that safe bets don’t go wrong is dying out. To get ahead in today’s competitive world, you need the right tech, not just the most popular or biggest. Let’s find out more.

If you have spent any time in the tech industry, you’ll know the phrase ‘no one ever got fired for buying IBM’. It was an old truth in software decision-making – when you need a big, complex, high-risk system, go for the big name because it’s too big to fail. Sure, there might come across smaller vendors with products that could significantly improve what you do, but what if it goes wrong? Stick with the status quo. Make the safe bet.

The butt of the joke is that even twenty years ago, everyone knew that IBM (or Microsoft, Salesforce or any other market leader) were selling old technology, were slow to implement and didn’t actually deliver on what was needed. But there was a lot of truth in the saying. It’s IBM - if it goes wrong you won’t get fired!

In this article, I’ll explain why this old saying is dying out, thankfully. 

The problem with sticking with the big names

Decision-makers have finally begun to realise tech is an essential part of differentiating what their company offers, compared to their market competitors. They now understand that if you choose the supposed market leader (by value, not capability) for every purchase you make, there is no differentiation between you and anyone else. 

When you only go with the big names, you bring exactly the same flawed, restricted offering to your clients as your competitors do. You also limit what your internal teams are capable of.

As business gets more and more competitive, the pace of technology is changing faster than ever with better tools and deeper capabilities. Smarter, nimbler companies are entering the market with solutions that can drastically improve what you can offer to your customers. They might not have IBM’s name (yet), but they can take your business much further than any legacy product ever could.

Differentiate for growth

In their quest to differentiate their solutions and drive growth, decision-makers are coming round to the idea that smaller vendors can make a big difference.

Buyers are tired of how many established vendors treat their business, with slow implementation times, opaque pricing methods and the way they embed their systems so deeply that it is hard to switch away. 

Thankfully, things are changing. Today, you don’t need to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch when implementing a new solution. New technology can be deployed as  ‘green field’ solutions or integrated seamlessly into your existing data ecosystem via flexible APIs. Implementation is an agreeable-sized challenge. Pricing is fair and transparent.

Most importantly, decision-makers are seeing the impact of having the right tech solutions in their company, wherever they come from. It helps them offer better products and services to their customers, while making life easier for internal teams.

Make the right decision

While it may be tempting to go with the bigger names when selecting software vendors, next time, flip the saying around. Sure, you won’t get fired for choosing IBM, but you’re not going to move your business forward with pace!

The biggest rewards go to the people who make the biggest difference, and you can’t do that with anything less than the best technology in your company. 

Choose a vendor that knows exactly what you need and how they can help you. It will minimise your risk and boost the reward.

Right or wrong?


Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 21 September, 2020, 10:541 like 1 like

I've heard a different reasoning for "Nobody got fired for buying IBM". It has to do with integrity, not tech chops. IBM had several competitors who were equally competent as IBM. But, as the legend goes, IBM never used to bribe customers to win deals, unlike most of its competitors. Tech projects fail for a lot of reasons, including challenges on the customer-side. When customer bought from non-IBM, and the project failed, automatically aspersion would be cast that CIO took a bribe and CIO would get fired automatically without any post-mortem on whether CIO really took a bribe or not and investigation into other potential sources of project failure. Whereas, when customer bought from IBM, and the project failed, bribery was completely ruled out, CIO got the benefit of a "fair trial", and didn't get fired automatically.

And that's still very much true in IT, where many projects still keep failing.

Jamie Nascimento

Jamie Nascimento

Chief Commercial Officer

LemonTree Software

Member since

17 Jun 2020



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