Tech Bigots Losing Their Jobs

Aligned with Business or with Technology?

Over the years I have encountered two very different types of IT professionals – those who were focused on helping the business in which they worked and those who were most concerned with the technology they were using. I have met people who thought Unix was the only solution to be considered and would never let an AS400 or, God forbid, a Windows platform in their data center. I interviewed people who only wanted to work with Visual Basic. They had no interest in learning C++, Java or any other tool. I have encountered Oracle bigots. They are often very powerful. It is true that with enough time and money they could make Oracle do anything. I have met QAD, Mapics, and JD Edwards bigots who will go to great lengths to ensure that their product is the only one used in the enterprise.

Risky Business

These types of people are losing their jobs rapidly. A few years ago I was referred to the CEO of a steel processing company who was looking for a new ERP. He directed me to his IT director. She politely listened to what I had to say, would not let me speak to any business users and then promptly recommended Oracle because it would look much better on her resume. The company spent $500k on licenses, then went out to get quotes on implementation. The lowest was $2.5million to make it fit the business. The CEO was furious. He called me directly and asked what happened to our solution. He brought his CFO out to visit us and was floored to see how well our solution fit his business.

End result: the company walked away from its Oracle licenses, bought and implemented our solution for less than half the implementation bill alone for the alternative, then fired the entire IT staff.

The Right Solution Changes Over Time

I started my career at Arthur Andersen (the part that is now Accenture). From day one it was drilled into our heads that technology meant nothing unless it solved a business problem. One day it was IBM/CICS, the next it was HP3000s or VAX systems or AS400s. Client-server computing seemed like a good idea at the time.

With the advent of the Internet and now the ubiquity of broadband connectivity, hosted solutions make the most sense. Further, multi-tenant solutions bring world class solutions to companies without the necessity to invest in servers, databases, backup equipment and the specialized personnel to operate it. IT staff can focus on getting business value to the end users and leaving the care and feeding of the infrastructure to a proven, audited entity specializing in providing the highest uptime, security and speed. Further, with the scarcity of cash and credit, the subscription pricing model conserves precious financial resources.

It’s All About the Business

So, whether it’s Unix, DOS, Linux, Oracle, SQL Server, Java, .Net or whatever is irrelevant. What is essential is what is the best fit for the business. The software functionality needs to fit. The delivery model needs to fit. The pricing model must also fit the needs of the business. IT professionals who don’t grok that are risking their jobs.

One Response to Tech Bigots Losing Their Jobs

  1. The right solution changes over time: Having also ridden the IT wave from the HP3000 and VAX MRPII / ERP era through today’s emerging services models, I can unequivocally concur and support your observation of the existence of the two types of IT folks…the techno’s and the business improvement types. I too have numerous stories from my years of selling and implementing enterprise systems where the IT gatekeepers put technology, and their personal technology comfort zone ahead of the future needs of the business that is paying their salary. They are definitely out there. It is often difficult to get into the executive suite to present the business value of a solution. The trick is, to not start with the IT folks, and to apply techniques to avoid being relegated to the “IT Department”. After all, it is a business decision for a company to invest in an IT enabler. Sales forces must be trained on the entire business proposition; not only the traditional “ROI”, but also on how to align with the strategy of the business leaders, and enable innovation, growth strategies, and these days – sustainment; at a cost that is palatable to the business. Your sales team must keep in mind that business leaders know that IT folks can be replaced…a business strategy cannot. A consultative, business-focused approach is especially relevant when proposing a SaaS solution.

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