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Tech Investment Advice for Tough Times

by Maroushka Kanywani, Editor, Dashboard InsightThursday, October 16, 2008

By Tony Byrne, CMS Watch

As bailouts become a global phenomenon, it's time to review what this all means for you, the technology buyer.

I think there are two main issues here:

1. The immediate liquidity crisis and any lingering effects that may lead to longer-term financial sclerosis.
2. An enduring recession — which previously left much of the enterprise and web software space unscathed — getting deepened and extended.

Some commentators have opined that more customers will turn to SaaS-based solutions inasmuch as the cash crunch will hit buyers' capital ("CapEx") budgets first. If that's the case with you, you'll want to weigh reduced initial cash outlays against potentially higher operating costs on a long-term basis under a SaaS model. Depending on the type of service provider, you're shifting at least part of the capital burden to your SaaS vendor, so you'll want to weigh their liquidity very carefully.

More generally, it's prudent to examine the financial health of all your major technology suppliers, current and prospective. We've always counseled looking more closely at balance sheets rather than profit-and-loss statements. Many vendors still remain cash-rich, even as they become customer-poor. I'm no financial expert, but I'd value short-term assets over things like "goodwill."

And what about the longer-term effect of a likely global recession? Alan Pelz-Sharpe issued the definitive statement: continue important projects, but take your time to do them right. (This is great advice even in go-go days!)

I'm seeing more evidence of technology customers doing this. Reviewing the software procurement schedule laid out by a CMS Watch client yesterday, I marveled at its realism. For the first time in ages we didn't have to push back to try extend the schedule for proper vendor vetting and solution-testing under realistic scenarios.

A judicious schedule offers no guarantee of this enterprise getting the right vendor fit in the end, but it seriously reduces their likelihood of ending up with a bad fit.

Best of luck to everyone.

Source: Intelligent Enterprise

About the Author

Tony is Founder and lead analyst of CMS Watch, a vendor-neutral analyst firm that evaluates content technologies and publishes reports comparing different solutions head-to-head. Tony serves as executive editor of all CMS Watch evaluation reports, each available for sale on this site.

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