Does Gartner’s “Postmodern” ERP moniker put a positive spin on what is in reality the equivalent of technology landfill? by Jon Hansen

Posted on December 6, 2014


“When ERP was in its heyday, CEOs and business executives wanted reliable and integrated solutions, so they seized upon ERP as the way to provide this,” said Mr. Kyte. “Business stakeholders still want these same qualities, but now they assume that these qualities will be present in any software solution, and their requirements have switched to the twin concerns of lowering IT costs and seeking increased flexibility. A system that is not sufficiently flexible to meet changing business demands is an anchor, not a sail, holding the business back, not driving it forward.” – Gartner Says By 2016, the Impact of Cloud and Emergence of Postmodern ERP Will Relegate Highly Customized ERP Systems to “Legacy” Status (January 29th, 2014)

The first problem with the above assertion is that what Gartner now refers to as “highly customized ERPs” never delivered on the promise of being reliable and integrated solutions.

The second is that having championed these ERP systems, thereby creating the heyday about which they write, how can we trust Gartner’s take on anything going forward.  This is especially true with what they are now calling “postmodern ERPs?”

Of course it is no secret that I have always considered Gartner to be the equivalent of a Madison Avenue shill for their paying clients, as opposed to actually serving the end user marketplace.

What adds insult to injury, is that they knew that this postmodern ERP era was coming as far back as 2000.

In a 2008 post Optimization Modeling and the Modern Supply Chain, and again in the 2009 entry Riding the Crest of a New Wave: How the Original SaaS Companies Have Gained the Upper Hand, I made reference to the findings of a 2000 SIIA white paper titled “Strategic Backgrounder: Software as a Service.”

SIIA, which is the acronym for the Software & Information Industry Association, eBusiness Division authored the paper, about which I would write the following:

In its opening paragraph, this seminal effort to explain the evolution from traditional licensing models in which “packaged desktop and enterprise applications will soon be swept away by the tide of Web-based, outsourced products and services,” accurately establishes the core principles or elements of the SaaS or on-demand model.  Specifically, that the new model will “remove the responsibility for installation, maintenance and upgrades (and the associated heavy costs) from over-burdened MIS staff.”  

I then went on to write that “Even though the SIIA report at the time of its publication stressed that “due to technical and business issues, such drastic predictions,” had not yet happened, it nonetheless sent up the first flare indicating that a change was definitely on the horizon.  

At the end of the day everyone, and I mean everyone including Gartner, knew that this “postmodern ERP” era was going to happen.

However, and rather than empowering the end user market to more rapidly embrace what is now considered to be the only way to fly – technologically speaking, Gartner chose instead to serve the best interests of its paying customers.  I am of course talking about the ERP companies, whose solutions over the years, have consistently failed to deliver the expected results more than 80 percent of the time.

The above is a harsh reminder of what is both the reality and the curse of the technology world.

Specifically that when it comes to a choice between serving the best interests of the end user customer or, the financial interests of those who for far too long had driven the market, the former always got the proverbial short-end of the stick.

Once again, and given this history, why would anyone trust Gartner or for that matter any of the other similar-type analyst firms and industry pundits, going forward.

From my perspective, any insights they offer are likely to be driven by an effort to re-brand their past mistakes as the natural progression of an industry that should have been where it is today, 5 years ago.

ERP Outdated


Posted in: Commentary