Just because a company is big doesn’t mean much of anything. Have you ever heard the line, “Too big to fail?”
What that line really meant (as we all found out) was that the government opted to (ie: we the people were forced to) swoop in and bail out giant corporations that were not there for us but were there only to maximize profits.
Is any “big guy” academic vendor really “too big to fail”?
Or is it really just big enough that it’s not really in business to truly serve you?
So, how big is big enough to be solid? It’s an odds game. And bigger companies offer better odds of stability… supposedly.
But the really big question is this: Even if the company is around, does that mean that it is going to continue to support the product it sold you?
In fact, these “big guy” academic vendors are big, answer-only-to-the-shareholders/owners monoliths that do not really care about your institution. To them, you are a profit-making tap.
And they perpetually do whatever they perceive to be in their interest, entirely without regard to your interests. And they prove this fact again and again.
Here are just a couple of examples (there are many!): Ellucian absorbed Sungard shortly after Sungard abandoned Bi-Tech, the ERP system used by dozens and dozens of schools. While at Walla Walla University, our present Director of Customer Support was forced to engage in an emergency migration from Bi-Tech to something else, anything else, as Sungard informed her (and other Bi-Tech customers) that it was abandoning that system within a few short years.
Sungard clearly didn’t care about its customers and simply used the product abandonment as an opportunity to do hard-sell tactics to get abandoned customers to move to its very expensive Banner system. Schools that couldn’t even begin to afford Banner were pushed toward Sungard’s PowerCampus instead.
Abandon and then upsell. Abandon and then upsell.
Oracle purchased PeopleSoft and then proceeded to abandon it. Only litigation kept PeopleSoft alive!
These big companies buy up competitors to bury them in an attempt to force customers onto their preferred high-dollar offerings. And just because a product has been around for a long time and has a huge installed base, that means nothing to these companies! Again, remember Oracle’s purchase of PeopleSoft.
The bottom line is that the “big guys” have the same core operating philosophy:
1) Take the market for all it will bear, plus 20% (or more). Then “make deals” down to the exact amount the market will bear, calling that a “discount.”
2) Buy out competitors and (often) bury those products. Monopolize!
And their “product support” consists primarily in market analysis to determine exactly when any given product should be replaced by another (that they purchased), and the steepness of the migration path this presents to the loyal customer is not even a consideration!
Thus, every time a school does the “safe” thing and supports one of these big companies, it chooses to squelch the smaller competition that is even attempting to keep these “big guys” honest.
Every time a school supports one of these big companies, it does so in the face of the fact that there is a superior option available at a fraction of the price.
Every time a school supports one of these big companies, it is very intentionally telling its students and other members of its constituency: “You can just pay more in tuition and other costs, so that we can purchase a product that is far higher priced than another, actually superior, product; and you will pay more just because we want to be ‘conservative.’”
And this also means that the “safe” and “conservative” school is really choosing to pour huge profits into the coffers of these companies, support the suits in the corner offices, support the company’s shareholders, and do all of this at taxpayer and student expense!
And all of this while the cost of higher education and the load of student debt has become a national scandal in the United States.
Think about it. If a company is charging 4 to 10 times (and more) what Conclusive Systems charges, and that for an inferior system that is not as well supported, you have to ask: Where is all that money going? And you have to ask: Who ultimately pays for those obscene profits?
Again and again we ask: Why would you spend much more to get much less?
By contrast, as all of our customers will attest, Conclusive Systems is in business to serve academia. We partner with our customers, rather than enter into a fundamentally adversarial relationship with them. We dedicate ourselves to continually improving what is already the best degree audit system available. We have been in business for over a decade, and we have only expanded our product line. We have never abandoned a product or a customer, and we never will.
Furthermore, we are a closely-held company, and we always will be. Knowing how the “big guys” buy up competition to bury it, there is no way that we would ever treat our customer base as a “commodity” that we could offer for sale just to enrich ourselves! We can’t even imagine the deal one of the “big guys” could offer us to sell out to their way of treating people.
We would not abandon our loyal and happy customers like that.
In short, we are genuinely here for you at a level the “big guys” can never be. And that’s because we don’t think about you anything like they do, so our priorities are nothing like theirs.
Our prices reflect real-expense realities rather than gleaning huge profits.
Our customer support reflects our core value of serving academia.
Really, your choice is not between the “risk” of a small company vs. the “safety” of a big company! Your choice is really between one way of being treated and another.
So, when you really assess the supposed risks, you are far more likely to be abandoned and mistreated by one of the “big guys” than by Conclusive Systems. So, is it really worth 4 to 10 times as much (at taxpayers’ and students’ expense) for the mirage of “safety,” when in fact Conclusive Systems can provide you a better system, better supported, and with a commitment to your interests that the “big guys” cannot match?
We think that the obvious answer is: No!