Is vendor lock-in just an excuse for not wanting to innovate and take risks?

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Digital Transformation Architect in Software, 10,001+ employees
Vendor lock-in is a sales tool. Sellers can use it to frighten a prospect by saying, "Ooh, you're going to have vendor lock-in. Be careful." And in my experience with clients, they are loath to leave something, even when they don't like it, because it's the risk of leaving the thing. It doesn't matter if it's open, or portable, or whatever, it's just that the risks of change are high. And so, are they locked into a vendor or are they locked into risk?
5 Replies
CIO Strategic Advisor in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees

Lock-in comes from so many perspectives: cultural, legal, cost, risk, organizational, priorities. All of those are factors that help decide what choices we make through the path.

Director of IT, 51 - 200 employees

There is a culture that ends up being created in organizations that tends to be entirely risk averse and that becomes the driver of all decisions, rather than right or wrong, or saving money or wasting money.

CTO in Software, 11 - 50 employees

Even CSOs view risk as a static entity, here's our risk model, here's the situations that could take down our business. Risk is highly elastic, especially in a cloud-native digitally transformed world. And that risk is always evolving. And unfortunately, most CIO, CSOs CEOs and board members don't view it that way. If you view it as a static entity, you're always looking in arrears and past performance is going to be indicative of future or CRD events. It seems very tactical to talk about vendor lock-in by asking, “where are we trying to solve? And what vendors (or ideally partners) can help us attack that problem and solve it in the most efficient manner?” Do people actually think about it like that? Or are they driven by the CFO and the bottom line? What innovative leader has ever said, “We are going to cost reduce to get innovation”?

CEO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
I would argue that one of the biggest parts of the problem is that few in the technology space and even fewer in the infrastructure space are incented at all, by making change. They're incented by enabling new applications and by resiliency and availability of applications. And I'm talking about enterprises in general. People will say "That's not in my job description. I'm not paid to take a risk." And unfortunately, there are few true measures in IT for identifying the value of risk. And so, for most people, making change and getting out of lock-in is as much about avoiding making change, and potentially causing themselves risk in the job place, as it is about protecting the status quo. I wonder how many times people avoided making a decision because they thought it was hard, but without having any real mechanism to effectively measure IT against change and actively measure against risk. There are very few companies in the world that have really good programs for actually measuring their rate of change, and their reason for change, against actual risk.
3 Replies
Director of IT, 51 - 200 employees

I don't know if every business is responsive to immediate massive change. The fact is, people want incrementalism, people need to adjust to the change.

CIO Strategic Advisor in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees

They won't take the disruption that comes with it. They think that there's a magic pill or a magic being that auto-magically will fix the problem. You can come in and go behind closed doors and fix some things and then come back and auto-magically things work again. Never actually works that way.

Digital Transformation Architect in Software, 10,001+ employees

This is a great discussion.  I'm working with several organizations who are desperate to upgrade 30-year-old applications.  There are individuals who are incensed to make change but they face a lot of internal roadblocks.  Like Tim said, there is not magic pill.

CIO in Energy and Utilities, 11 - 50 employees
Not an excuse for innovation. The thing is: your current vendor offers a new, innovative product?, other vendors offer innovative and MORE RELIABLE/CONVENIENT product worth the try?
Senior Information Security Manager in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
In part. I think a big reason why many people like to go with long-term contracts where they are locked into a vendor, is due to the RFP policies in their firms, which makes vendor selection a massive pain.


The process is so onerous and burdensome, they’d rather have a set it and forget it approach, even if the vendor is not fully meeting their needs.

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CTO in Software, 201 - 500 employees
Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
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