For over a quarter of a century now, those in the business of creating, making, and selling tin with blinky lights have been used to putting technology first without too many questions. Previously, we were able to innovate in a way that the physical and cosmetic attributes of the ‘tin’ were usually different and remarkable enough to present this as something to consider during the buying process.
Nowadays, like an underground river, most innovation that occurs at the same pace as before happens under the hood and within the applications built for it (perhaps one reason why Vista fell on its face). It is here where the average Joe doesn’t appreciate the creating and making that goes on behind the scenes. Now the blinky lights don’t hold the same level of importance when it comes to winning a client over anymore. So with the creating and making happening in the background, it’s time to think cleverly about how to bring selling to the forefront and make the process relevant and effective.
In the past three years, the requirements of the technology we use has changed dramatically and at a rate that we have never seen before. iPads, smart phones, Kindles, and the like make perfect companions for content absorbtion, whilst the humble laptop and desktop (just) still reign supreme when it comes to content creation.
And it is how information is created and flows that makes conversations around technology in the way it previously was a trap for those who don’t recognise this shift in mindset. Technology is no longer just about what we manufacture, ship, and install but more about how it can support the new generation of technologies, applications (social media) and software (on-premise, hybrid, or hosted) that makes the difference.
There have been a couple of interesting posts of late including those from Simon May that talk about the new breed of personnel in the IT department. Perhaps this is a reflection of the slow dawning on the majority of IT Pros that to obsess about kit in a way that is no longer ‘sexy’ or relevant.
No longer do we screw our noses up at a colleague’s make and/or model of laptop or tut at the way in which a customer uses software other than Microsoft’s to create and manage documents. No longer can we assume that everyone wants to work the way we do and therefore limit our potential by only knowing what we want to know rather than what our target market wants.
What gives us the right to assume we can make a mark on our clients in the same way we did when hardware was king? Instead we should be defining and refining our skills and abilities to understand how data flows and is managed within their businesses. Once we understand that for ourselves and our business, the hardware and software world is our oyster once again. Whether we choose to adopt a niche focus on a particular brand or technology or otherwise play the game in a way that gives us a broad overview of what’s out there; if we don’t understand how to get under the skin of each and every one of our clients then what we think we know becomes irrelevant.
And who wants to be irrelevant in an industry that prides itself on promoting innovation and integrity? You shouldn’t and your competitors definitely don’t.
If you don’t know your customers and their needs well enough, your technical experience and know-how just isn’t going to cut it any longer as the only way to succeed.
Customers first. Technology second.
Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that helps technology organisations redesign their business models to help them build better relationships with their customers. You can follow the team on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.