The Wall Street Journal today takes over where Cisco: Change or Die left off.
Reporter David Bank describes the power shift roiling the software industry in an article called “The Revolt of the Corporate Consumer” (sub req’d; WSJ Online format prevents linking). A summary is presented here by Steve Hebert.
Mr. Bank notes that open-source and web-based software are posing an increasing threat to software companies, shifting power in favor of corporate customers, who are increasingly wielding negotiating clout. Mr. Bank then makes an excellent point, in part by quoting a venture capitalist:
For software companies finally being forced to improve security, simplify maintenance, reduce costs and deliver measurable business results, … the shift “will be really punishing.” But customers are already reaping rewards.
Now permit me to free-associate for a moment. Instead of software companies, think “law firms”. Instead of consumers, think “corporate clients”. Now for the re-set:
For law firms finally being forced to improve matter staffing, streamline the usability of their work product, reduce costs and deliver measurable business results, … the shift “will be really punishing.” But corporate clients are already reaping rewards.
At first glance, there appears nothing for lawyers to learn from an analogy linking software to corporate legal services.
Maybe it’s my morning coffee, but I think there is everything to learn.
Mr. Bank concludes with a quote from the CEO of Siebel Systems, Mike Lawrie:
“It’s not just about making the best software,” he says. “It’s also about helping companies get to that business outcome, get the value from the investment they’ve made.”
I went back and re-read the article linked above by Laura Owen of Cisco. While the title grabbed my attention, this observation was even more striking:
Clients are already demanding change from their law firms. Unless you want to join the other fossils, it’s time to change your ways.
Now I’m going back to the original WSJ article excerpt and inserting “corporate legal departments” for “software companies.” No one is immune from the demands of the bottom line.