I don't see much difference between a zombie apocalypse and the events going on in the software vendor space.
Zombies seem to be everywhere. No more so, of course, than in the AMC television series "Walking Dead." Season five premiered last night.
The Walking Dead characters need their zombies to survive at times. The viability of the show itself certainly depends on them.
Just like we need software vendors to survive in a business sense.
Without zombies, the Walking Dead's just "Survivor" with clothes — and that's no fun. Without software vendors, there's just, well, businesses doing their own business. That doesn't sound fun, either.
Taking a Bite
But beyond the similarities, there's a good lesson to be had from the Walking Dead if you're a digital marketer, a social business champion, an IT professional or a SharePoint developer.
Zombies and vendors alike want one thing -- to bite you. OK, chances are slim you'll actually get bitten in an exhibit hall, but vendors certainly want a bite out of your budget.
The Walking Dead characters spend their days destroying their zombies. OK, software buyers aren't trying to kill the vendors. But there is the "fending off" process, right?
Demos, sales pitches, exhibit halls ... you have to be good at fending off the ones that won't be good for your business. Ultimately, you do far more elimination than addition when it comes to software vendors.
There's no denying the value of good vendors. We use them every day and can't survive without them. We're not about to abandon our vendors and do everything ourselves -- unless you really want your CMSWire articles snail-mailed to you in handwritten form.
They are a part of all of our lives -- but we need to have a strategy to deal with them, just like Rick and Co.'s zombie-coping abilities in the Walking Dead. You can't just wing it in either of these worlds.
Finding the One
Last week at the eMetrics Summit at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, we saw a great talk by Jeffrey Doak of Team Detroit, which handles social measurement for the Ford Motor Co. Doak suggested that the most important question to ask any vendor is, "What business problem does this solve?"
If the vendor can't give an answer specifically for your company, with support on how the product directly solves a legitimate business need, then it's just another zombie.
Make Good Use of Vendors
Once in a while, the characters in the Walking Dead make good use of zombies. They use them to distract other humans who may be enemies. They use them for cover to blend in with other zombies. They use them as shields.
Once in a while, you, too, will find a vendor you can use. One that truly solves a business problem -- and not just another looking to take a bite.
Title image by Nemar74 /Shutterstock.