Vendor lock-in occurs when a customer becomes dependent on a vendor for products and services, unable to use another vendor without substantial switching costs.
In digital, we witness this time and time again.
Vendor lock-in can occur anywhere throughout your business. It might be your choice of cloud storage or Software as a Service provider. It might be the choice of a key IT system, such as your accounting, e-commerce, customer relationship management or content management platform. It might be the hardware you use to run your inventory management and point of sale systems. It might even be the handheld gadgets you issue to your mobile workforce
There are a number of ways you can avoid getting yourself into this pickle. Here is what we would suggest:
- read the fine print in the vendor contracts or terms of business
- ask the provider whether they offer data migration tools or services to facilitate the movement of large amounts of data. Don’t take their word for it, do your own research. The more mission-critical that vendor is to your business, the more important it is to make the right choice. Will your business processes be totally reliant on proprietary hardware or services?
- Will your data be locked away in proprietary formats? What are the options for exporting that data in a format which can be easily imported into a rival service?
In a perfect world your business would be completely vendor, platform and device agnostic, but realistically you’re likely to trade some freedom in return for advanced functionality and other benefits.