Subject: Re: Wal-mart drives software industry
From: D Henkel-Wallace <gumby@Henkel-Wallace.org>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 11:28:05 -0800

 Tue, 26 Feb 2002 11:28:05 -0800
On Tuesday, February 26, 2002, at 01:26 , Tom Lord wrote:
>
> Purchasing decisions by Walmart are a major market driver (to the
> extent the quoted article is correct) -- but what drives those
> purchasing decisions?
>
> Sure, they're made with certain business goals but at anything beyond
> a simple tactical level those decisions are harder than chess and lots
> of input from related perspectives is a good way to approach them.  As
> a Walmart, if you're making a strategic software-related decision,
> you'd like to have some confidence that your decision is being noted
> and complemented by other strategic decisions at, for example,
> software suppliers.

This is your model of how Enterprise/IT adopts technology.  It appears 
sound from first principles, but in fact it's a complete fantasy.

Worse, the kinds of people who go to those conferences to "collect the 
different perspectives" don't tend to be the crucial decision makers.

And the whole point of wal-mart is that they don't care that their 
"decision is being noted
and complemented by other strategic decisions at, for example, software 
suppliers."  Wal-mart famously dictates what they need from their 
suppliers.

> In the case of big IT, these days, the relevant perspectives are from
> all over the map -- hence my (somewhat iconic) list of companies and
> suggestion for a forum of discourse.  (Surely such forums already
> exist in forms such as low circulation publications, elite trade
> conferences, rolodexes, periodic sales visits, etc. -- the question is
> can we put together one that isn't owned by a particular FSB and
> that's focussed on the contributions that can be made by Free Software
> and open source processes.).

The conferences you talk about do exist.  There's a group of the CIOs of 
the world's 100 largest companies.  You don't get to go.  I don't get to 
go.  Sometimes you can get one of the members intro you to others, that's 
all.  They aren't something that can be "oened" by a particular FSB -- 
they have their own agenda.

Ian and I have spent the last couple of years with big Enterprise I/T.  We 
had some of the same na´ve preconceptions you do, but were painfully 
disabused of them by the experience.  Maybe Tiemann can also share some 
experiences; RHAT has had some success in this area.