Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This is Going to Sting a Little...

Saying you're sorry is never something that vendors are over anxious to do, let alone publicly. Every vendor, from time to time, has to deal with issues that spiral out of control, with of course the preferred method being a quiet communication and a hearty promise to rectify the problem.

The challenge with solving the problem that way is the fact that there are any number of ways for disgruntled customers to turn a private apology into a public relations fire drill. And that seems to be what's happened to Business Objects, an SAP Company recently.

Apparently there have been some major issues with the data quality side of the business, and in an email sent out to clients after close of business Friday (pretty sneaky, sis...) pledges were made, resources were marshalled, internet links were included. All with a hope that things would settle down and the customers would be placated.

Alas, such was not the case, as someone sent the customer note onto DM Review, and now everyone knows the issue. Now it's one thing to be a blurb in a "notes" column; but when the editor-in-chief of the publication goes to the trouble to print an article about the issue, things have clearly gotten away from you. And Franz Amman's email statement, while official sounding, doesn't really do much to close the issue since it's still unclear what the issue was. Reading between the lines, it sounds like poor support for upgrading to a new version that finally took a client or two over the edge. It invites more questions and leaves open a lot of interpretation as to what the issue is. Is it a poor quality product? Do the support people now know about the new version? Are there not enough resources to help with migration? Is the migration a much bigger issue than customers were promised? We're left to guess, which likely makes the issue bigger than it probably actually is.

To their credit, BOBJASAPC is running the standard "play defense" from the PR playbook well: issue your statement, use as few facts as necessary, say you're dealing with the problem, stay quiet and let it die away.

The key now is the execution. If they take care of the problem, this will melt away; if not, E6.1 redux here we come! Great for blogging, not as great for the EIM customers out there.

26 comments:

Paul said...

Ahh, I remember Business Objects 6.1. And I remember Business Objects 6.1a and 6.1b and 6.3. I also remember having to tour the world justifying the quality screw up that led to that debacle. I hope that even if the shoddy development standards of the core BO group have infected their mid west EIM developer friends, they at least have a better resolution strategy.

Red Slice said...

Dude, April 23?! Where are you, PG's?!?!

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