R "Ray" Wang is the principal analyst, founder, and chairman of Constellation Research, Inc. He's also the author of the blog "A Software Insider’s Point of View,” on how disruptive technologies and new business models affect the enterprise. Prior to founding Constellation, he was a founding partner and research analyst for enterprise strategy at Altimeter Group and an analyst at Forrester Research for enterprise strategy.
You say that Constellation Research is a "next generation" research and advisory firm. What does that mean, and how is it different from traditional research firms such as Forrester and Gartner?
The legacy analyst firms are designed against a role or a technology. They focus on the “what” not the “why.” We're aligned to business problems that technologies can address. The business problems do not change but the technologies will over time. So, we look at the future of work, next generation customer experience, digital marketing transformation, and matrix commerce to name a few. The emphasis is on how emerging technologies disrupt business models.
The legacy analyst firms do not promote an analyst's personal brand. They want to industrialize research and rip-and-replace as needed. What we do is put a personal touch to our analysts. Most are accessible via social media, Skype, and of course in person at events.
In addition, our analysts have a broader view. The legacy analyst firms create barriers to gain access to the analysts. In addition, the high degree of specialization of legacy analysts often leads to a client having to repeatedly schedule multiple calls to answer a larger set of inquiries.
Your bio says that you were responsible for contract negotiations strategy at Forrester. What are some suggestions you could make to users in general about how to conduct contract negotiations more successfully and economically?
I've been engaged in over 1,500 software contract negotiations. Sometimes it's a quick call for help, other times from beginning to end. The one thing we often see as an issue is a misalignment with overall apps strategy and the contract negotiation. You want to make sure your software contract accounts for some of the main elements of a business strategy. How you negotiate for a company that's rapidly acquiring is different than one in slow growth. A company putting out new products and services at a rapid rate also has different needs than a company that's in retraction. Without a good alignment, the contract negotiation is a waste of time.
With all the emphasis on mobile development, where do you see enterprise software going from here?
Mobile is how we interact first. The average person is no further than three feet from their device at any given time of the day. Our devices are typically on 17 hours straight. Consequently, software must be designed for mobile first. This is why you have to rethink what you put on those devices. You can't take what you already have today and just slap it on a mobile device. You have to take the 20% of applications people use 80% of the time and keep things simple. Otherwise, the experience is slow, kludgey, and typically unwieldy.