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May 23, 2022

IT and the big So What?

IT pros have learned or are in the process of learning that technology isn’t the first question; the first question is now how effectively it solves the business problem. Technology purveyors, especially those who have stuck to a box or technology driven approach need to change their messaging to a solution basis that addresses the business need first.

Over the last 15 or so years, there has been a distinct change in how enterprise IT vendors sell to enterprises. Initially, enterprise IT vendors were so-called “box sellers” who basically sold products which IT departments implemented. This applied to hardware, software, and even services such as connectivity. The focus was on what was being sold. A lot of the marketing for that time was designed to catch the attention of tech-oriented staff and IT management. The value proposition was around how advanced some of the features were, or how advanced the technology used was. In these days, IT rode supreme in enterprises, dictating how, what, and where systems and software used by the business were deployed, largely based on IT’s needs.

Cloud computing changed the IT game

But cloud computing changed all of that. Suddenly a line-of-business manager could break out their American Express card and order IT solutions they needed…all without having to deal with a slow-moving and rigid IT department. Enterprise executives and boardrooms who long recognized that IT was a vital and strategic function began to take more interest and control of the department. In response, vendors began to shift their thought process and marketing strategy. Selling the technology itself was not resonating with LoB and C-suite executives.

Technology-first messages were greeted with silence or a resounding “So what?”  Vendors and service providers had to shift to selling solutions, specifically solutions that tackle business problems and can directly relate to LoB and C-suite concerns such as ROI, operational efficiency, and productivity. However, while IT may have shifted to a more senior advisory role, there were still actual and real technical concerns that need to be addressed.  This has led to bifurcated and even trifurcated messaging where the top message is business solution oriented, and the next level down is more tech oriented. In trifurcated messaging, the middle messaging is usually semi-technical, concentrating on long term IT planning and architecture.

In this new reality, as long as the solution fills the business need at a price they can afford and doesn’t make the IT department have an epic hissy fit, it’s good to go. Simply put, the technological details are of very little concern to anyone outside of IT. Everyone expects the next version of Wi-Fi or the next version of cellular technology to be better than today’s version. The underpinning of why it works isn’t really a concern to enterprise business buyers. This has rocked some technology companies to their core. Years of marketing speed and reliability are rapidly being reduced to checkboxes and bragging about the technical details suddenly isn’t effective with the people who have the final sign-off. Years of relationship building with the IT department is no longer a sure way to sell.

IT pros have learned or are in the process of learning that technology isn’t the first question; the first question is now how effectively it solves the business problem. Technology purveyors, especially those who have stuck to a box or technology driven approach need to change their messaging to a solution basis that addresses the business need first.