One of the most enduring images of the IT industry has been that it’s run by geeks for geeks. Geeks, furthermore, who could not be further removed from the harsh realities of running a business on the ground. In that old world, the latest and greatest technologies took precedence over immediate business use, and sometimes, the wow factor of technology even overshadowed basic day-to-day usage implications.
But times have changed.
These days, the conversation is not around how technology can just enable business, it is about how technology can transform the way business is done. This change profoundly impacts IT service providers who need to leverage IT to create value for our customers. At Quadra, we realized we needed to be able to relate to our customers’ businesses and identify ways to leverage technology to transform the way business is being done. As the one function that permeates across every aspect of the organization, IT has the greatest potential to learn, assimilate and transform.
Today, the conversations we need to have are around driving, shaping, and delivering change. And the most important technology advancement that will drive the transformation of IT from a back office function to a strategic function is cloud computing. With the cloud, we are able to focus less on delivering and implementing technology and instead sharpen our emphasis on leveraging technology and making a difference to business. Today our winning conversations center around how we can help businesses integrate and adopt IT to create business value.
During a recent conversation with a customer who was evaluating Office 365, the conversation centered around how we could help their end users to connect, collaborate and communicate quicker, more efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. Instead of an Office 365 presentation, we created a customized end-user adoption plan that explained how Lync could transform their current work style and boost end-user productivity, while saving on travel and communication costs. A project plan – including a high level workflow that outlined how we would accomplish this task and empower their users – clinched the deal for us. The key was not to discuss product functionality in isolation: it lay in helping customers establish the connection between what the solution offered and how it could meet their business needs.
In another instance, we explained how a customer in the financial services domain could automate their customer facing workflows, leading to a drastic reduction in turnaround time. This would increase customer satisfaction and positively impact their bottom line. The fact that the workflow was built on SharePoint was incidental in the conversation. Instead of centering the discussion on what SharePoint could do, we identified a critical business function that would benefit from SharePoint functionality, and leveraged this to secure their approval.
When we align our services and solutions with our customer’s business goals, and relate business scenarios to solution use cases, we can define measurable success criteria that can clearly establish the value of our engagement. Talking the customer’s language – the language of business – is the best way to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty and make the transition from being a technology provider to being a strategic advisor. What’s more, this approach provides immense long-term benefits, since the deeper we go into a customer’s business, the more cross sell and upsell opportunities we are able to identify. We can transition to higher value services that directly impact the customer’s business, thereby cementing the customer relationship, while making for a much more profitable engagement. Vertical experience and knowledge is one of the surest ways to move up the value chain during customer conversations, and having these dialogues with our existing customers paves the way for profitable engagements with similar organizations.
The writing on the wall is clear – as one function that permeates every aspect of an organization, IT has the greatest potential to deliver transformation. As solution providers, we have an immense opportunity to rise to the occasion and help businesses drive strategic initiatives, grow revenue and boost profits. The cloud is the most potent tool that can help us to make the transition from a mere technology solution provider to that of a strategic advisor. We’re all in – are you?
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