When I was the CEO of an independent document capture company (Datacap), I found it painful to listen to customers articulate why they were reluctant to bring in a specialty vendor for technology like document capture. "There is a lot of overhead in managing vendor relationships," is the way the discussion would often start. Datacap, being itself a relatively small company working with only a modest number of vendors, did not prepare me to be sympathetic to these concerns.
I would argue that it was far better for them to select the "best of breed" solution then to hang their hats on keeping the number of vendors they are working with down. Seemed obvious to me that the better technology would also be the better choice, no matter how many vendors that involved.
Sometimes that argument worked... but many times it did not help. Customers from large organizations have significant challenges, even within the confines of that organization. Sometimes Herculean efforts are required just to align the interests of different departments, notably those with operational responsibilities versus those with technical/IT responsibilities. Throw into the mix hundreds of vendors with different licensing terms, different support structures and availability, and you get the recipe for ongoing chaos.
Large financial institutions are the very model of these challenges. As banking has been transformed globally from a large set of small organizations with primarily local customers into far-reaching regional, national, and global institutions, the challenges they face in managing technology and, of course, the vendors providing that technology, are vast. What's one more vendor in the mix? It might be the straw the breaks the camel's back!
Now I understand the logic behind vendor consolidation far better - and it helps explain the success we have had in banking and finance as IBM Datacap... that we were never able to achieve when we were an independent vendor. Particularly with the Production Imaging Edition (PIE), we are offering a complete imaging packaging from capture to repository. Of course, there are other explanations as well, not the least of which is the increasingly tight integration we have established with the repository where captured documents are stored.
There's no magic number of vendors, but there is a hidden dynamic that I have learned: on the buying side of the technology equation there are constraints and considerations that legitimately have an impact on vendor selection. Have you run into those constraints? I'd like to hear your experience.
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