As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses, the IT industry is doing what it does best: talking about big, over-arching technology buzzwords. That has been going on for years and years. But during and after the Covid-19 crisis and the economic devastation resulting from it, customers will need something else.
Vendors have been active
In all fairness, the majority of technology vendors have been active in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vendors have not only provided loads of free advice in the form of papers, webinars, and videos, but they’ve given away software for a limited time and have been proactive with even physical resources, donating hardware and even PPE (personal protective equipment) to communities and customers.
These include good initiatives such as flexible financing for customers and partners who are or will be in financial distress, and resources to support work from home initiatives and security around that activity. The industry has been doing concrete things in the early days that they should feel proud of and many of those efforts are continuing.
Marketing takes a familiar tone
But since the time initial shock of the Covid-19 pandemic wore off, vendor marketing has taken a familiar tone. The message is that if you are not working on these overall big picture issues somehow your organization is going to fail.
The marketing looks a lot like it looked before the Covid-19 pandemic, with a side order of obsessing about new Covid-19 driven trends. Digitization marketing, a space with enough hot air to loft a thousand balloons, got a slight twist. Instead of telling businesses that they would fail if they did not practice digitization, the message was tweaked to say that businesses would now not survive the post-Covid-19 era without digitization.
Cloud had a similar light messaging change, emphasizing how important it is in light of Covid-19 to move everything to the cloud. Security messaging trumpets the need for more security, as apparently bored hackers are locked in at home and ramping up activity. Carriers, between bouts of having to explain that 5G does not and cannot cause Covid-19, are hyping 5G as the key for businesses to succeed post-pandemic.
Long term leadership required from vendors
However, what we need long-term is vendor *leadership*, not reliance on the big buzzword trends from before Covid-19. There should be short and long term tactical ideas and plans from vendors. For instance, ramping capacity for work-from-home, or revising and actually paying attention to corporate BC/DR plans or moving more applications to the cloud.
Business management and IT management are trying to figure out how to keep critical on-site employees safe and healthy, how to manage customer and employee expectations, how to fix issues with overseas supply chains, and most importantly how to navigate the sudden and precipitous drop in sales. This is likely on top of new realities domestically with stay-at-home orders. Businesses need practical advice, especially regarding how to manage what will likely be a greatly reduced IT budget.
There is no denying that all of these big buzzword technologies/trends could be helpful. What is disappointing is how the industry has largely failed to pivot in light of changing conditions to more relevant, tactical technology trends. It is disappointing that the revamped messaging just plays on what everyone had been saying before.
Customers need better from vendors. If the idea is to take the current marketing plan and salt it with Covid-19 and call it good, please reconsider. Customers need advice on how to deal with their budget downturn and real talk about how they can reduce or eliminate projects due to rapidly shrinking budgets.
This will be painful for both the customer and the vendor. But keep in mind that the positive actions taken to help customers now while enfolded in the crisis will lead to deeper relationships and higher sales down the road, even if sales get sacrificed in the short term.