Enterprise technology has long been dominated by the discussion of the technical specifications, standards, speeds and feeds. Emphasis on these details was the heart of IT and the delight of the vast majority of its practitioners. Knowledge of standards, compatibilities, technical tricks and pitfalls were badges of honour. Operating systems, CPU architectures, storage speeds, programming languages, and memory capabilities – each was hotly debated. For years, this occulta scientia warded off all but the most persistent of business executives who largely took the word of their IT department in terms of direction, purchasing, and development. But the recognition that IT and digital technology is crucial to nearly every aspect of the business means that technological direction is done not only by the CIO but also with input from the rest of the c-suite and line-of-business leaders.
In response, technology providers, both vendors, ITSPs, and MSPs have all been shifting from a product basis to a solutions basis. This transition has not been smooth or easy and of course, every one of these technology organizations is making this change at a different speed and with different levels of urgency. Business leaders are looking for results and much to the chagrin of technologists, they often do not care about the technical details of achieving those results. In short, they don’t much care about how it works. They care about how *well* it works, how much it costs, how it enables their business needs, and if it’s flexible to accommodate future business needs. IT still handles the technical details and requirements, but the needs of IT, especially when it comes to the rest of the business are secondary.
Great examples include the collective lukewarm response to 5G, or dazed blinking when Wi-Fi 6E is mentioned on the part of executives. Both technologies are terrific and will make a difference. To business leaders, it’s the equivalent of technobabble used to advance the plot in Star Trek. As long as it fits the use case and is a good investment, they are all in. They do not care anymore about the details of IT technology than they care about the details of a new generation of forklifts in the distribution centre. Since these business leaders are the ones in the driver’s seat to approve purchases, it’s more important than ever that both sellers and IT department continue to shift how they present solutions.
Old habits are hard to break and the genuine enthusiasm that technologists have for the technology itself is considerable. Vendors, ITSPs, MSPs, and all sellers of technology to the enterprise market need to move to a solutions basis. This is going to mean shifting away from long-held value propositions. Vendors cannot rely on speed alone, nor can they dazzle with the silicon process used to make their chips or the standards they follow. MSPs, particularly telco MSPs can’t trot out how awesome their network is or how great 5G is. Great networks are table stakes to even be considered. ITSPs have been leading with solutions more consistently, and the transition for them will be less onerous. Marketing messages need to be layered, with the top layer being the solution for the business executives first, and later layers designed for technical IT staff, which simply isn’t shown to executives. This utilitarian shift has been happening for some time and is gaining speed. The era of technological minutia is gone, and technological adolescence begins with focusing on solutions to business needs.
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