So, we continue with some of the viewpoints of the business partners.[Please excuse the use of substitute, generic references to "Big GIS company," or their products, as many have requested anonymity, and we have obliged.] Regarding my comment about the larger companies putting the "squeeze" on their business partners (BP), one BP had this to say:
"You are right about the large GIS companies putting the squeeze on the business partners.Is this a surprise? Don't the big fish eat the little fish? Did the big companies promise not to do that? I think the only safe ground for a service provider is to stay close to the customer, and be independent about your 'total solutions.' The three big companies are not the only GIS tools.If your customers are loyal to you, but your business partner isn't, get a new business partner."
But if professional services are the name of the game for BP's, then the game is afoot! One end user had this to say:
"I work for a small county government office and we have had GIS for about 2 years.We are growing slowly in our enterprise GIS.We are using PRODUCT X, PRODUCT Y, and a Business Partner PRODUCT Z.I have one comment on your business partner's issue.When I have trouble with any of these, I call tech support.When I call the Business partner I usually get help right then or shortly after.I have a personal relationship with this partner and they know me by name.I like that.If the tech I am talking to can't help me, they can usually get the person in the next office to step in and help.I don't have to wait to long.When I call BIG GIS COMPANY, I often have to wait at least a few hours for assistance.I always get it; I just have to wait longer.
I will not dwell on this issue beyond next week, but suffice to say that there will be conflict so long as the larger GIS software companies compete for services and the BPs aim to provide customized software solutions (that may eventually lead to a more mass-marketed product) in addition to their services.Let's face it, the model is not perfect, but the market is.The winners, it seems, succeed by providing the best service/product, with the highest quality, at the best price...as always.