As I sit in the bar on a fine evening après-ski writing this article, I’m pretty much trying to convey the same attitude to a little unknown problem outside the world of IT as other business owners and managers are. I mean, I can literally close my eyes and absolutely not care what Microsoft’s plans are for Windows XP. Nope, not bothering me in the slightest. Okay, maybe a little. Okay, quite a bit…
I frequently tell people the answer to this question is a little bit geek, a little bit facilities manager, a little bit office manager, a little bit quality manager, a fair bit project manager and a lot perfectionist (when budgets permit). The best IT Managers are also highly adept business consultants, who know more about their companies than most Managing Directors and Finance Directors. Big up those guys, they’re special.
Certainly that’s how my experiences came about, the thing is being an organisations alpha-geek means that you’re the go to guy or gal for anything vaguely technical, and regardless of whether you are the official IT Manager (if you even have one). If you don’t have an IT Manager within your organisation then the alpha-geeks are the prime candidate for elevation to the lofty status of IT Manager…
This week I finally did it. After years of looking at the green cabinet outside my home, I finally got Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) installed. I also finally, have gone with Zen Internet, after many years of recommending them to just about everybody – I finally switched from Eclipse who in my humble opinion have took a downward slide since being bought out by Kingston.
Now, us IT guys love a bit of BT bashing and nothing ever goes straight forward when they’re involved, however contrary to my blog title, I’m probably going to put up a bit of a defence – as in all the years I’ve worked in IT, I’ve never come across a bad BT Openreach engineer…
It’s funny, no matter how educated you are, you can sometimes stumble onto something that you think was glaringly obvious and ask yourself some searching questions why you haven’t done it sooner.
Over the past twelve months that’s happened to me…
Some of you may or may not know that business process is probably one of my pet topics, despite my leanings to IT Infrastructure I’ve always seen IT as an enabler to effectively manage a business and allow managers a better view of what’s going on around the company. If IT can’t accomplish these goals then really, we’re no better than the people who used to provide the typewriters to typing pools to send internal memo’s.
We’re talking a lot these days about Big Data, Collaboration, and BYOD. The IT industry has created these terms simply to sell more storage, telephony systems and security infrastructure and tablets. The consumerisation of business IT, all sounds a bit far-fetched to me. A friend of mine was even posting on Linkedin this week about being at a Microsoft seminar on consumerisation v2.0. I pointed out that Bill Gates did a v2.0 of his book “The Road Ahead” after he realised he’d missed the boat on the Internet.
How does any of this nonsense make your business more efficient? Surely IT should pay for itself over its amortisation period, whether that be a software solution to a business problem or a hardware solution to similar problems. Ultimately, we moved from typewriters to wordprocessors to cut out mistakes, reduce inefficiencies and make business more effective. The move from wordprocessors to networked computers with multiple applications such as spredsheets was there to do the same thing.
I’ve worked with many software applications and hardware products as an IT manager and I’ve met few software companies who provided a solution that met its intended goals. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I probably spend more time telling potential customers to not use their imagination of what a software solution can do – and focus on what it will do out of the box. I’m sure I talk myself out of opportunities by being a bit too honest, but that’s where experience has left me.
As an IT manager, I was never allowed to spend money without justifying that something was going to save money.
With ERP’s for example, they’re great tools but they’re also stupidly complicated beasts. Rightly so, by the way, if a piece of software can run your widget manufacturing business and the e-retail outfit down the road, it’s going to have to have some complexity and configurability to it.
Herein lies the problem! Most ERP resellers will rub their hands with delight when they here a customer liking the product but wanting to change certain things to fit. Rest assured a big bill is coming! You’ll see endless invoices coming in because they have implemented a CYA process. Cover your Ass! They will have got the customer to take on the liability of an open ended set of modifications that the customer really didn’t see coming – after all who is the ERP expert, you or them?
There’s also a significant issue with this whole process. You as a business tell the ERP reseller, this is what we do, they’re more than happy to take advantage of that and change the code of the software – even though there may be something in there that will ‘nearly’ do what you want.
Unleashed have turned everything on its head in terms of ERP. We’ll sell vanilla maybe with some chocolate sprinkles and sauce, but if you want rum and raisin, you’ll not only pay for it but we won’t do it – we ultimately don’t believe it’s necessary.
If you’d like to speak to us about a better way of doing systems such as ERP or CRM, give us a call for a chat, we’ll even pop round to yours with some biscuits if you put the kettle on!
This IT malarkey is always a bit strange to me, I spent years resisting value added resellers attempting to what I thought was rip me off and sell me days of services, that a) I didn’t think I had any hope of getting financial approval for and b) I would refuse to admit I needed help in the first place! The irony is that after spending years tormenting resellers, I am now actually one! However there is a big difference between us and *them*…
As sad as I am I was using the internet on a beach when on holiday recently. What makes things worse I decided to check who made the accesd points to add them to our portfolio of solutions.
I am already a big fan of Meraki but it looks as if Ruckus will be joining our partners list in the New Year
It’s no secret that over the past five years I’ve been gamekeeper turned poacher in some people’s eyes, I happen to think it’s still the other way round. However, needless to say, owning your own technology company means you have to sell IT, I wouldn’t say we are the worst, best or otherwise at doing that and I suppose that the vast majority of people come to us word of mouth then it probably says a lot of what I think about sales.
However we have tried to differentiate ourselves based not on any fancy go-to-market strategy, sales funnel or some other nonsense tool, but on my own personal values, feelings and experiences as an IT manager. Ultimately, I need to sleep at night and I’m still frequently plagued by concerns about doing things better and doing the right thing – I will probably never make a good salesman…
- You can dress it up however you like, a salesman (or salesperson) is still a salesman. It’s not a job title, it’s not calling someone a ‘business development manager’ to make it all strategic and removed from what they actually do – they are what they do.
- Salespeople exploit the ‘information gap’ which is the differential between you as the customer not knowing exactly what you want or how much it should cost against how much of the solution they’re selling is going to achieve what you actually need at the cost they’re charging. The less you know, the more profit they can potentially make by not volunteering information that could aid your decision making.
- Talk is cheap. Verbal assurances, talking about strategies, blue skies and everything else can win a deal without costing anything.
- Most salespeople will promise the Earth, and not worry about how to deliver until the deal comes in.
- Most salespeople will disappear when the deal comes in and let the technical teams worry about delivery at the cost they’ve quoted you.
- Most salespeople claim to be ‘proactive relationship managers’ during the sales process, until there’s a problem.
- A lot (not going to say all) of salespeople are liars! They were the kids at school you did not want to hang around because you’d never get them to say anything straight.
- A lot of salespeople claim to be technical, until pushed. I always had fun on this one as an IT manager!
- If you hear someone repeatedly telling you how good they, their company or their product is. Run. Run a mile and don’t worry that you almost bought whatever – it was a bag of nails.
- A salesperson will worry about 1p of commission over upsetting the relationship with you.
So, the one thing I’ve learned about myself?
- I just can’t do any of that. I can’t stand it, I loathe it and I ultimately don’t believe this is right or how things should be done. I would rather not have a business than have to rely on any of that for revenue.
However, I deeply and genuinely feel things can be done differently in the technology world – and better! If you want to try just talking about something in order to evaluate your options without worrying about my ten bad things, then try us!
We’ve all had it, security guards, safety people, bouncers, council staff, hotel staff even the HMRC. In train stations, airports, paying bills and attempting to buy stuff. At Disney World over summer I was constantly told to “Keep behind the Yellow Line” – I brought a whole tram-bus thing to a standstill when my foot was on the yellow line, note not beyond it, just on it and just one foot!
Sure you can complain, but where would sound logic and reason get you? Nowhere. You are also in the right, you know it, your friends know it – even strangers watching you lose your temper through frustration know it!
However an eloquently worded letter or tweet will only get you a response along the lines of: “we work to ensure great customer satisfaction and we are sorry to hear about this incident, these incidents are rare and your feedback will be used to improve our training programmes.” Sound familiar? Of course it does, then the following week, the same happens again, and again…
I’m finding it increasingly more painful to watch politicians talking about areas of technology that they are poorly advised upon and have absolutely no clue. The dark internet has been one that’s popped up in recent weeks with regards to child abuse and pornography and as a justification of David Cameron placing more pressure on the ISP’s and search providers such as Google. Mainstream pornography and child abuse have been joined together rather cleverly by politicians to incite a public response, but are we really being well informed…?