What is the goal?
I often sit in customer meetings thinking to myself, "why are they doing this?". I do this not because I think of myself as so much more enlightened than them, but because I want to understand the motivations for the task(s) at hand. Often times attractive slide decks are placed together to convey such points but they often miss the human factor and are solely focused on some bottom line financial component. What I have uncovered being in the consulting world for the last two years though is that the "why" question is such an iceberg. If you had 8 people in the room, there would be 16 different answers, but the important thing is that more than 1/2 of them would be personal.
I have seen some great consultants in my time in this industry. The good ones know how to get to this and how to pull out all 16 answers. They ask questions such as "how do we make you, specifically, successful". They understand that there are motivations that go way beyond the corporate strategy presentation with every group. They also understand that technology, project and solution success is at risk because of these motivations. I think one of the saddest realizations I had in my recent job was that I got to really see that a particular technologies success or failure really had little to do with how good the technology was. Now granted if the technology was horrid then it failed. However, if selection was clearly better than another it had no bearing if that lesser one was going to make the decision maker more successful. The "no one got fired for buying IBM..errr...Microsoft" is prevalent. It might not be the best decision but it is a safe one.
"What is the goal"? I would say if software companies want to be successful in the long run do the following:
1) Build a safe brand
2) Team with the consultants that are really consulting and not just implementing
3) Teach your own folks to solution sell and get at the root of what is going on.
Anyway, I would also like to remember that there are larger goals out there. I got reminded of that this week when two individuals I would call friends have been nailed with Stage 4 cancers. One of them is still fighting the fight and needs help. Anything you can do, head to http://ottoschutt.com/ and read.