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Some people call them posers or pretenders. I prefer the word “wannabe”, described by Wikipedia as “a pejorative for a person who wishes to be or do something, but lacks the qualifications, experience or talent.” Who exactly am I talking about? Well, I am not referring to specific people, but rather to vendors who position their products and solutions as having far broader functional capabilities and business benefits than they actually deliver. The wannabes tend to chase a market leader and attempt to attach the leader’s value proposition to themselves. Hey, if you can’t do it, fake it, right?

In the niche market of print management and output management software, there are vendors who describe their solutions as “enterprise output management,” but clearly have a completely different definition of the word “enterprise” than what I have experienced over the past 30+ years in the IT industry. When does a direct-IP printing solution for Windows desktops constitute an enterprise-class output management solution? The answer is – when your enterprise is wholly comprised of Windows desktops. And what large businesses today run Windows as their sole computing platform? (Cue the sound of crickets chirping here…)

In reality, the vast majority of large enterprise-class businesses today are characterized by more-complex, heterogeneous computing environments. For example, it is not at all uncommon to find the entire range of platforms and applications in many businesses, everything from mobile to mainframe. And, with the industry focus on the future “Internet of Things,” more computing platforms will likely emerge in the future. So, shouldn’t you cast the net a little wider when you refer to “enterprise solutions?” I think so. Though in fairness, I am biased because I happen to work for a software provider that has a rich history in large enterprise environments; one who started with the IBM mainframe platform in the early 1980s and has expanded support across new computing platforms since then.

So, here is a suggestion when you are evaluating vendor solutions that are positioned as enterprise in scope and value – break out the tape measure and see how they really stack up. Ask about their mobile solutions, both for devices and workers. Ask about their desktop solutions, both virtual and traditional. Ask about their solution for legacy computing platforms and their ability to help you modernize applications. Do they even know what an IBM mainframe is? What about an AS/400 or its modern incarnation? How about Linux and UNIX? Now, pile on all of the diverse applications and data formats across these platforms to get a more accurate view of a true enterprise. Finally, consider security and compliance requirements across the mix. Not so simple, is it?

Anyway, you get the picture. Now, think about your enterprise and ask the right questions. Match vendor capabilities with your current and future business requirements. You might need your special sunglasses to filter out the sales rhetoric. Look for “the real McCoy”, not the gang of wannabes. It won’t take you long to figure out who is which.

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