I’ve been working with MSP’s, Distributors and Vendors in the IT Channel looking at business agility lately, and it’s interesting to hear people’s views on what they think they can achieve in business.
Particularly MSP’s who are the closest group to end users in terms of long term relationship, have a huge opportunity to benefit from gearing themselves as being the ‘trusted advisor’. The problem is that a lot people I’ve come across just don’t get the full picture. The real big difference between service delivery and solution delivery isn’t in supplying software, hardware and support, or providing recurring services; it’s in being able to empathise with your client – to have the understanding of their market, their issues, their needs, their goals that means you know what solutions to propose to solve the problems they have today and tomorrow. It means forging a strong relationship with different people in different roles to thoroughly understand their individual needs and culture. It’s making the effort and taking time to get to know this. In a world where everyone wants answers faster and solutions cheaper, this may seem at odds with where to invest your time but having been a solution provider for many years I can say for sure, that the best work comes from the clients you have the closest ongoing relationships with. It doesn’t matter that I can’t fulfil all their IT needs; what I do is find people who can, and work with them. The result of this is that I get involved in some really interesting projects that change the way my clients work. It means they listen to me when I recommend they invest in technology rather than viewing it as an expense. It also means I get to help my clients work to achieve successful change.
We all know that technology can transform a business – but how many times have you had a client that has just ignored your suggestions despite it being obvious to you that they could save time / money / expand / make more money.? Often the reason they do this is a lack of trust and not being able to visualise what the proposed change would look like. If you don’t know their business well enough how can you paint a picture of what success will look like in terms that they understand? It’s all about the relationship. Always has been, always will be. If you’re getting push back on price and can’t get to see the people you need, there’s a distrust there, or if not distrust a lack of understanding of the benefit of listening to you. It takes a long time to forge long term relationships and it takes effort. But it can be done and is done. IT companies who truly understand this will transition successfully from being services to solutions driven. They will be stronger and more profitable than their competitors, and will be ready to take advantage of the next wave of technology that will embrace business apps and the IoT into a more connected world. Efficiency isn’t just about speed and automation; it’s about making sure the right things get done in the right way at the right time by the right people. It’s about regularly reviewing the relevance of doing things – the way a client works changes over time so their systems and processes should keep pace with this. As a technologist you have an opportunity to help your clients with this and add real long term value to their business. That’s what they really want; help in implementing solutions to business problems.
IT’s not rocket science. IT’s human understanding!