We are often asked by prospective clients, “What will you do for us that we aren’t getting today?” Great question. Most companies looking at IT partners focus on the technology. Seems right. But its not! When you have a headache, if you focus on the impact of ibuprofen versus asprin, you might find a decent remedy and relieve the pain a little faster. BUT! You still got the headache. It is far more powerful to focus on the cause and prevention. Lifestyle, diet, exercise, stress, etc.
So what is the greatest value of an IT partner? What separates the good from the great? Their application of technology capabilities to the client’s business needs. We simply call this strategic advice, but it is a whole lot more complex than these simple words denote. It requires a unique blend of skills and knowledge to deliver excellent guidance:
- -Business Acumen. Knowing what the client means as they describe their unique challenges.
- -Client Knowledge. Understanding the client’s value proposition and product delivery model.
- -Applied Technology. Visualizing the best application of technology for given needs or opportunities.
- -Active Listening. Ascertaining the underlying point and message to a given situation.
Example. We recently spoke with a manufacturer who had been told their server was getting old and should be replaced. Not understanding the risks, along with growth pressures on cash, they delayed their vendors proposal to replace the server. Of course it crashed. (Not much of a story otherwise.) Crisis ensues – new server emergency ordered, around the clock recovery, many thousands spent with the vendor, problems with backups, data, getting ERP system back up. In the end, 4 days lost, but they are back live.
End result: Spent more than original proposal. They have only gotten a new server – it has the old operating system, all the same problems they had before upgrade, no enhancements possible for future developments.
A good vCIO would have helped the CEO understand their risks of the current systems, discussed the value of what a new system might offer in additional features, talked about the value derived from the upgrade through the elimination of the operational problems the old system introduced, and provided a migration plan. Given cash flow constraints, if the decision were to be delayed, the alternative plan of solidifying the current environment with better recovery systems and an emergency upgrade protocol could have been applied in case of a failure.
So, rather than throwing good money into a back network, they could have taken that same emergency expenditure and upgraded their systems to a much higher value environment.