What Do Vendors and ISVs Want from Each Other?

The RSPA Niche & Startup ISV Community helps software developer executives meet and network with fellow RSPA ISV members in a vendor-neutral setting. To join or sponsor the RSPA Niche & Startup ISV Community, email Membership@GoRSPA.org.

By: RSPA Niche & Startup ISV Community

A recent meeting of the RSPA Niche & Startup ISV Community attempted to answer the question “What Do Vendors and ISVs Want from Each Other?” Vendor and distributor executives who sponsor the ISV Community conducted a lively one-hour give-and-take with several software executives. Here are some highlights:  

  • ISVs are always innovating, so there’s always a new use case out there – and that means they need new things from vendors. They’re developing solutions 2-3 years before they bring it to market, so they need help developing that. 
  • From a disty perspective, we see both sides of what vendors and ISVs want. Vendors want the same things they want out of a good friendship. They want the ISVs to say nice things behind their back and say real, difficult things to their face. They want the ISVs to help the vendor better position their product.  
  • Most hardware in this world is a commodity, so service for me as an ISV is everything. I had one of my vendors who was our top vendor for 20 years and, because of their service issues, they’re now one of the three worst I’ve ever worked with and I’ll never work with them again. Every hardware vendor has product issues; it’s your response and support to the product issue that matters. They had a product issue and didn’t do anything about it until after six months of screaming from us. We had a similar problem with a different vendor, and they fixed it in days. 
  • A couple of times we have missed the opportunity to co-promote with an ISV because nobody told us they were going to the event. Talk about a lost opportunity! Some of that’s on us because we don’t have the right relationships inside that ISV organization. 
  • When ISVs are choosing a hardware partner, they have to look 4-5 years down the road for their product roadmap. If you don’t do that, you’ll go down a dead end. 
  • A lot of younger ISVs don’t want to touch hardware. But doesn’t it make sense for the ISV to control the full experience? Your customers are going to need receipt printers and cash drawers and barcode scanners. Otherwise, your customer is buying whatever hardware from Amazon and you’re risking the performance of the solution and your reputation. 
  • ISVs saying “hardware agnostic” is a sales pitch for us. The customer doesn’t feel like they’re being forced into a product, but 95% of customers buy whatever you sell them.  
  • Sometimes hardware vendors get in their own way because they don’t allow the software to lead. End users most of the time are looking at the software primarily and the solution it provides, then they take what hardware the ISV recommends. Don’t force feed the hardware into the promotion. Be a flexible partner and allow the software to lead. 
  • Once you integrate, you’re not done. One of the keys to our relationships with ISVs is to connect in multiple layers of the organization – sales, product, marketing, operations. When you have one of these “gotchas” that need to be disabled, you run into problems when you don’t have those relationships.