While attending the CEE Disti Premier Summit in Prague I had the opportunity to sit down and hear the story of Darina Vodrazkova, a cultural anthropologist who has been the owner of DAQUAS, a Microsoft partner company for 20+ years and the WPC partner of the year in 2008.
Darina’s background in anthropology influences the way that she does business. The IT industry, in her opinion, often falls short in the realm of open communication with customers. But, in her view, communication really is the way to be business savvy. Reason being that through open communication you can build lasting business relationships with customers. In this sense it is like farming.
A farmer produces goods every year by methodically nurturing the land, animals and plants. Changing from the hunting model of one-off deals to this farming model of maintaining the relationship with the customer is the change Darina sees that really needs to happen in IT. Furthermore, it is always more efficient and cheaper for a company to keep a customer than to find a new one. That is why Darina urges partners to milk cows (nurture their customer relationships) versus hunting deer (continuously searching for the next project and customer). As she got more excited while describing her point of view, she said, “after all software is a service, infrastructure is a service, overall IT is a service. If you don’t tend to the service, then is it one?”
Darina stated that the understanding that needs to be reached among others in the IT industry is that yes, the hunter gets more money on the upfront commission, but the grazing farmer is compensated more overtime. For partners to realize this it will require them to assume the upfront costs to shift the current mentality. Additionally, for this approach to be adopted industry wide, it would require a significant shift in compensation models in some partner companies. Currently, salesmen are making their livelihood off of killing that big deer, and not milking the cow. As compensation sets behavior, then hiring the first person that is paid on the nurturing model versus the hunting one will set the tides of change throughout the rest of the company. This leading farmer will need show peers that hunt that there is greater return from selling smaller more lasting service based solutions such as with Cloud, instead of one-time non-annuity structured larger deals.
Darina’s closing ask of us at Microsoft was to help current hunters find the beauty of farming and shift away from their brutal ways of hunting (she was partially joking at this point of course).
After our chat, we asked the photographer to take a picture of Darina so we could showcase her on DigitalWPC. Out by the coffee station I saw a jug of milk. Perfect, I thought, then we can literally show Darina with the milk in hand that she is getting from nurturing all her cows. 😉