CIOs Want Vendors to Stand Behind Their Software

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Commercial software developers need to focus more than ever on quality and get their potential corporate customers involved earlier in the application design process.

This was some of the advice offered by four CIO-level executives speaking at the Sand Hill Group’s Software 2005 conference here.

Corporate IT departments’ discretionary budgets for new software acquisitions remain tight, the CIOs agreed. Thus they are being very selective, targeting new software acquisitions toward their most significant problems.

For British Petroleum PLC, that means acquiring software that “adds unique and specific value” to the company’s computing assets, said John Leggate, BP’s group vice president for digital business. This includes advanced data analysis software, trading and customer-facing applications, and software that helps “80,000 people collaborate around the world,” he said.

BP has carried out eight major acquisitions since 1998, which has more than doubled the size of the company, Leggate noted. Along the way the company has accumulated more than 10,000 software applications of “every type and flavor you might want to know about,” he said.

BP spends about $120 million a year on software, about $90 million of that total supporting existing applications, Leggate said. That leaves about $30 million for new acquisitions. “We care deeply about innovation, and we are always scanning for the next things,” he said.

Click here to read why some customers debated whether to renew their Microsoft software quality assurance plans.

But that also means looking for new applications that won’t cause integration and support problems, he said.

However, for software developers that might be interested in doing business with BP, Leggate’s advice is: “Come and talk to us first before you start inventing good stuff. Building a dialogue is a good way to start.”

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