At the risk of finding my boss knocking on my door at any moment to ask for a one-to-one, I actually think our most important task as technology providers is to advise, and not to sell.
Instead of recommending that a customer implement a new solution, our advice may well be to say “no” on their behalf – even though it may mean less work for my business. IT consulting is about comparing a company’s business strategy, functionality needs and maturity level with the most value-creating solutions in the market.
Sorry. But when I take up space on advising, it’s because accessing business savings is an important prerequisite for an optimal IT setup – especially in the cloud.
IT development is so intense at the moment, that it is virtually impossible for an IT manager in a company to keep an eye on the market. This simply cannot be achieved if you have to address the many requirements of your job description – and to be assessed against them as well.
When you align with an external adviser, it is important that the provider has the insight and courage to say “no”. For example, by not choosing the optimum solution since the company actually only needs a solution with a half-functional package. The chrome-plated solution might be old, and the market may have developed in so many different directions that it has long lost its business value after being implemented. Here it might be better to focus on a solution that reaches low-hanging fruit, given that that same fruit with a visible effect can increase the efficiency and quality of a company’s work here and now. Another analogy for the same point is that we shouldn’t build missiles for those who need a starfighter, or just because you want to look at the stars, doesn’t mean you have to be among them.
An IT manager cannot be expected to make this distinction, because it needs them to have a complete overview of the solutions on the market, to have experience from similar projects and have an outlook on achieving the expected business value so that the project does not end up in an IT project cemetery. This distinction can make a professional supplier better – if the company is suited to handle the task as a trusted advisor, that is.
I know. There are many people who set out to be trusted advisors in the IT industry. Here is a small exercise: try to think of the latest IT project you helped implement in your company in collaboration with a supplier. Did the solution cover your actual business needs? Did the supplier know your industry and the specific challenges that characterize your industry? Did they try to shove certain functionalities down your throat, for you to end up not needing them?
A trusted advisor delivers as little as possible as soon as possible. If you have such a supplier, then stay with them. If you don’t, feel free to call me.