We left off last month talking about how systems integrators and IT departments go through progressive phases of enlightenment before they find the common ground necessary to create business value. Both sides are in the same boat. Being together in the same boat and learning how to row together, as a team, will yield forward momentum toward an agreed upon destination. That destination should clearly support business goals that senior management is touting. If you can’t work together and end up rowing in different directions, well you get the picture.
You may have an IT person utter the phrase “Not on my network.” They really didn’t mean what you thought you heard; you may have just asked the wrong person the wrong question. Creating value for IT starts with you choosing to change your business perspective and thinking just a little bit. OK, maybe a whole lot. Instead of the conventional “compressed” wisdom of how to minimize bandwidth issues, think in terms of “expansion” where bandwidth and quality aren’t always a compromise.
A key concept to consider is that many IT departments, as well as 99 percent of IT people, really are interested in expanding and leveraging their networks in new, expansive and dynamic ways. I am suggesting a controlled and planned expansion plan that allows leveraging of older network assets that can be used in new ways while providing a justifiable migration to new technology to support growth plans, spelled B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S V-A-L-U-E.
Sometimes Value Is in the Process
A real-life example I shared last month showed how a key metric for an Ohio university was saving time, and the IP video solution helped departments there accomplish that. Another and more powerful metric was that life got easier for everybody.
Never underestimate the power of making someone’s life just a little bit easier. Granted not a lot of rocket science here, but you must be more perceptive, curious and aware to create a winning environment in working relationships.
Remember that return on security investment (ROSI) can be developed after the project is completed. Say what? Truth be told, you and your customer may not have enough data points to tie a pretty bow around a large project to sell it to senior management with ROSI. There I said it. I feel so much better. So what?! Do a smaller pilot project and gather some real-life data points. They can be used to justify the project or as a referral in the future.
3 Ways to Help IT Departments Shine
So let’s transition to the technology side of the value coin. You may have the perception that technology alone is the passion and focus of the IT department, and they only like getting their hands dirty with bits and bytes. Au contraire, mon ami (French for on the contrary, my friend). While their focus on the technical software and operational characteristics of technology cannot be denied, focusing solely on this driver would be shortsighted.
Try focusing on the “business” of IT and how it supports an organization in a much broader or expansive sense.
Here are three approaches that have worked well for me through the years:
1. Reduce their risk of doing business while extending their budget dollars
2. Protect their jobs from outsourcing threats
3. Help redefine and expand their contribution to the business
Consider what they value. I will give you a couple of examples to consider. Minimize their risk; the risk of a technology not working well within their network or skill capabilities. If you bring overly sophisticated solutions, somebody will have to manage it on a frequent basis. So how would you bring some value in this scenario?
Optimizing Clients’ Time Is Golden
Start increasing value by checking the network track record of the product solutions you plan to recommend. Make sure your manufacturer and their field reps earn their paychecks. Generic or fluffy case studies won’t cut it with a true IT technologist. They want facts. The manufacturers that can deliver this information without a great deal of hemming and hawing will deliver you and your customer value. Remember that above a small pricing margin when you make buying decisions. IT relationships and business value is defined by the lifecycle of the customer, not by short-term product margin.
All right, that may work well and be worth considering, but what else can we do? How about delivering the No. 1 value proposition of all time — time itself?
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