In one of my first jobs, at an internet service provider, the sales director hammered on the message that it was cheaper to sell more to an existing customer than get a new one. Further, he asserted that the more services the customer had with us, the better the retention. With our ISP oriented to obtaining recurring revenue, he referred to vendor lock-in as a holy grail. There is certainly some truth to this, and I’ve take some of his passion to heart. While we focus on developing software solutions, we are happy to serve as a single point of IT contact for our clients, in order to maintain a long term relationship. But there is a dark side to passionately seeking to achieve vendor lock-in.

We are working with a client to update a critical web application. They are seeking capabilities that they’ve determined are beyond the capabilities of their current supplier.¬†Unfortunately, the supplier has such a passion for retention that it has proven a significant challenge to obtain control of the client’s IT assets – data from their application, management of their domain, even access to their Google Analytics account. As a result of the difficult transition, the client explicitly indicated that a key success criterion for our engagement is that they will be in no way locked in with us, as well as retain full control of all their IT assets.

This can’t be the only company that has suffered under excessive vendor lock in. When engaging with a potential client, we will be more sensitive to being too keen service all of their internet needs. I can see that a wrap-around service could be oppressive to a company that has struggled to extricate themselves from unwanted lock in.