How many vendors and providers could be well attended by a CTO office?
Despite of CTO don’t buy directly from vendors, is an influencer in taking the decision of what technologies are aligned to the company’s technology evolution path, and We can bring a better comprehension of the products’ advantages versus their cost to acquire and operate them.
There are so many technologies, and so many vendors and resellers for each one. How could we decide what technology to choose? What are the main factors we need to keep in mind before choosing or knowing if we can start working with it?
IMHO these are the points you need to heavily consider to study any new technology:
- Is this technology aligned to the company’s business objectives? With so many technology options and products, it’s horrible hard to choose what you have to see and what you need to leave for a later analysis or just leave it completely. The first approach is to understand how they could fit into the business’s objectives. If you are offering Infrastructure services, it could be interesting to see solutions to automate networks or optimize monitoring on the contrary seeing a SaaS to speed the chain management to an specific customer industry which also could be pretty hard to convert it into revenue very soon and it could require a huge energy and cost to just put it working in a smoothly operation. However, companies like us make easier to deploy multiple services. We have several business units attending to different markets on different service layers. Then, the challenge is to get endorsement from the correct sales team.
- Who is going to endorse it to turn it out into fresh revenue? The company brings IT services to different customer’s segments. You have a deep knowledge of your core services and company’s resources. Also, you know how further the company expects to go with new services different from core’s ones –something between to take advantage from current operation capabilities to lower new services’ startup costs; and a new offering with sexy new features to be released to the current or new market-. Now, how the company could turn these new services into fresh revenue? You have one or more sales teams that could use this new service; the thing is they will not sell it just because you recommended it. They have to identify the business value of your proposal in order to make them to see it as an opportunity to get more deals from current and new customers. You have to commit to support them on the field with your team, and keep it worthy to their eyes all the time. You need to be flexible to meet some additional conditions on it in order not to make it lose appeal in front customer’s eyes –if it is like that, it is probably due to you have not been thought about it when you built it up from the beginning-. Sales guys have the immediate feedback from the field to tweak what you need to turn this service out into a successful investment. There must be a minimal cost of time and support from specialist in your team that help to warm engines.
- What is the cost to induce it into your operation (create skills, make people believe on it, governance, etc.)? You’ve got the support from sales teams and now, you need to see the costs turn engines on. Costs can be segregated in setup and operation resources, software & hardware components, communications, security, colocation, etc. When you take a new technology to support a new service you have to check its costs impact in the company. Define a period, i.e. 24 or 36 months to estimate pay back. This business case helps you also to set service prices to the market and play with different scenarios of performance. Many times the cost of the technology you have just chosen is not the one that could generate the biggest impact in your business case and market prices.
- What exactly will be the governance to operate it? New technologies mean new skills requirements. Governance is important to be set from the beginning to avoid operations problems later. To get the required skills will take time, and this is something that hits the expected time to market. The main gap between you and the competition for this new service is not the new technology by itself; it is the time and people you have to put to turn this out into reality. Usually you have to get an important support and contribution in the operation, from the vendor that takes this technology to you since the beginning to speed this time to market. Also, you need people at your company that could take this new service to rest of the departments (marketing, operation, sales) with a huge capacity to adopt change as a constant and try to cover undefined areas –eventually, any new service when you put in into production will bring some uncertainty. You can see my note “Working a year in a dog’s life” that also company culture is essential-
- Make it simple. Almost Done? Now the hard part for any techie like us. Try to take these new service’s features into a fully comprehensive message across the organization. There are so many ways to do it, but the best one is writing it down in just a few words: what the customer is earning by getting a solution like this for his business. Then, you can complement this, again, in few words, by keeping on mind what are the 4 or 5 main features, and try to be incisive with the competition. There must be something you can offer that they can’t.
Finally, don’t forget to choose new technologies based on the advantages they could bring to your company in the market, and stay conscience this advantage is temporary.