There’s a great saying. “It’s good to watch your competition, just don't stare.”
Pega Systems, a four billion dollar company, just got hit with a two billion dollar judgment for corporate espionage against Appian. Talk about getting caught gawking.
Pega, is of course, in the fight of its life. A two billion judgment will destroy the company. As you can imagine, there is a Kardashian “Drama AF!” lawsuit. It’s a real throwdown.
But at the end of the day there is one fact that is not disputed by Pega. They accessed Appian trials and functionality. They even employed an Appian consultant to compile hundreds of hours of Appian features.
Is that even bad? Geez, within seconds of an iPhone release, some uber nerd has slashed the thing open like a fish on a bait station. Why shouldn’t Pega be allowed to do the same thing?
Here’s why: Pega used deception to get what they wanted. They used false personas to circumvent trial license agreements. They hired Appian consultants to gather information and make intel videos for them. I guess like taking pictures to last longer. All of this was under the false pretense of being prospective customers. Sounds like the Pega CEO drove the whole thing, referring to the Appian consultant as “our spy.”
This kind of thing never goes down well with juries. Pega might as well have worn a black hat and sat in the courtroom twisting its mustache like a villain out of central casting. This was not a “one off” event. It was an orchestrated plan of attack hatched at the top of Pega to gather intel by deception.
What is so broken about the Pega R&D and development department that they can’t understand what Appian is doing without getting up to unsavory tactics? Someone “trained in the art” can pretty much look at the marketing material and get a sense for how something works. There is just no need to go to such lengths. Where is the innovation? Do you really have to dissect your competition to come up with a better idea? The whole thing is such a follower move.
Values Matter More Now than Ever
Every software customer, at some point, will look at a vendor and ask the question: “Do I trust them?” Let’s be frank. A lot of customers have been burned by software vendors. I don’t mean a little singed. I mean go ahead and check yourself into the burn ward. But we are in very interesting technological times. Let me paint a picture for you. In the rearview mirror is a sign that says “SAAS is eating the world.” We put all our data on big multi-tenant systems to get economies of scale. The sign ahead says “AI is eating the world.” AI needs data like a baby needs a bottle.
What are the vendors doing with our data? Do we trust them?