Convergence Channel: Winning the Technology Migration Game
While the stakes are higher, from a competitive and strategic standpoint your business is analogous to a game like chess. We’ll assess what you may encounter and plan your most effective moves to migrate customers to new technology.
Chess is all about strategy … moving the right piece at the right time while anticipating your opponent’s reaction and considering your next two moves. What does it have to do with your business? Just this: it may be your move in the technology migration chess game. photography ©istockphoto.com/pagadesign
My father taught us to play chess as children. He learned the game as a Lt. JG aboard the U.S.S. Lizardfish SS 373 in WWII. Strategy in times of war keeps you and your crew alive. Strategy in the systems integration business keeps you and your company fiscally alive.
Chess is all about strategy … moving the right piece at the right time while anticipating your opponent’s reaction and considering your next two moves. It’s about concentration, adaptation and anticipation. Playing chess can be tactical as well as strategic, using sacrifices, feigns and traps in combinations of offensive or defensive moves at different points in the game. You can use traditional or modern game plans. What does this have to do with your business? Just this: it may be your move in the technology migration chess game.
As an IP video systems integrator, I initially played the game of checkers instead of chess with customers who were early adopters of this technology. In 2001, the rules for playing the technology migration game were not yet written. Checkers is relatively simple and straightforward; a great deal of skill is not required. When the opponent is forced to make a move you capitalize on that decision. We played checkers with forward-thinking IT managers. It was both fun and a bit scary. You didn’t have to overthink or strategize. You would see the move quickly (the customer’s desire to be on the cutting edge of technology) and pounce.
So why is chess different and how does it relate to today’s migration strategies? In chess you must think ahead several moves, both yours and your opponent’s, so you can see a vision of your migration strategy unfold. You have to be prepared for the unexpected. You must have alternate tactics to respond to those threats. You have to adapt quickly. You have new players to worry about that bring a different dimension to this sales game. If you are thinking any of these thoughts, you are preparing yourself to play convergence chess with your customers. Let’s work on that strategy.
4 Issues Working Against You
The unfortunate reality about migrating security technology solutions is oftentimes those customers have not given a great deal of thought to planning for a network-centric platform. Many issues may have contributed to this scenario:
1. The velocity of business today doesn’t allow time for reflection, thought or planning. I call it being “wrapped in the tornado.” Being consumed by daily tasks and responsibilities makes it difficult to pull away to think, let alone plan for the future.
2. Technology, the very goddess we are all slaves to, actually creates less time to step back to plan because we are all tethered to it and expected to be “on the grid” 24/7. This has become the new “normal.” Worse yet, is technology’s expected response time syndrome. If there is none within three minutes, it is assumed something is wrong or customer service is called into question.
3. “Show me the money!” While this is arguably one of the better movie lines in the past 20 years, it is just as likely to be heard by a security or facility manager as a sports agent. It often happens in response to video system failure that has not been planned or discussed in advance. The results are predictable. Get the system running quickly, three minutes would be good, at the lowest possible cost. Goodbye migration to megapixel IP technology and hello to more analog cameras and a DVR with a lower margin for your business.
4. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” The first three reasons enable this behavior in management. It simply is not a priority in the next three minutes, three hours or three days of my time. That is of course until something breaks, like a DVR. This is typically where the customer’s technology migration journey takes a detour. More like a U-turn that is exactly the wrong direction you want your customer to take.
Making the Best Possible Moves
So what are the possible situations in this dynamic game of convergence chess when a DVR breaks? The best-case scenario is you have a plan in place and they immediately move up to an IP NVR platform. The next-best case is you retain their business, but replace a DVR with another DVR. No migration path here.
The worst case is they replace you as a supplier, which could fall into several categories, obviously, none of which are good for you. If they don’t call you at all when the system breaks, it’s checkmate! No second chance. You don’t have any moves that will work.
Perhaps your customer has purchased a replacement product online from one of the hundreds of Web sites featuring targeted paid advertisements to click on “new DVR” courtesy of Google. Or maybe they have been introduced to a competitor that is trying to build a relationship and show them new IP megapixel technology. An opening move has been made. A strategy has been thought out. The competitor has a proposal in hand that identifies benefits of the technology, and has new and different contacts within your customer’s organization such as their IT manager. Before you know it, you are in “check.”
Often at this point in the technology migration game, you have only a move or two left and they aren’t good ones either. If you are feeling trapped, that’s because you are.
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