|By Steve Mordue||
|January 31, 2014 12:17 PM EST||
In the very near future, your client’s criteria for finding a Microsoft Partner for their organization is going to change. Instead of looking for a firm that has an in-house base of expertise across all of their needs, they might be more interested in whether you play well with others. We all know that Technology is very…. well it’s technical. It always has been. For decades, technology consulting firms have strived to be a one-stop shop for any client’s needs. “Here at Acme I.T. we say From a broken mouse to a custom business process workflow, we can handle that”.
In our firm, we focus exclusively on Microsoft Cloud Solutions. Yet, not a day goes by that a client does not ask me if we can also handle X, Y or Z for them. For many customers, particularly in the midsized business space, there seems to be an assumption that if you know any technology, you must also know every technology. When I tell someone, we are not the guys who can fix their broken mouse, I sometimes sense disappointment that maybe we are not as savvy as they thought we were. I guess that is why so many firms would have answered yes.
VooDoo for all
As technology consultants we are all guilty of supporting the notion that I.T. is Voodoo; a powerful black art, only understood by a few. This has served us well as we now have a vast client base who wouldn’t dare try to figure out what we are doing. “So why do I need all this stuff again?”; “Don’t ask, or the Voodoo gods will make your email stop flowing”. Like patients, who after an incomprehensible diagnosis from their Doctor, do whatever he says in order to prevent some misunderstood, but potentially terrible thing from happening to them. But the real value of Voodoo has been is ability to hide mediocrity. The client has an “I.T.” problem… we may, or may not be qualified to solve it, but fortunately the client has no idea. Our firm would be considered “I.T. Consultants”, but if a client said they were having network problems… well, that’s Voodoo to me. The dollars client’s have spent on highly qualified people, attacking problems for which they are not at all qualified just because it falls under the I.T. umbrella, has to be staggering.
Fake it till ya make it
The imaginary concept of an all-knowing I.T. Consulting firm is starting to show some cracks. Two major drivers are behind this. First, clients are getting smarter. We should have seen that coming. People are curious by nature and skeptical. Tell me that I need to replace my malfunctioning on-premise Exchange with a hosted version, and I not going let your “Because I said so” fly anymore. Nope, I’m gonna go do a little research on my own. Uhoh. This is not good. When I come back and ask if you checked the DNS, I am going to figure out pretty quickly that your recommendation that I move everything was only due to the fact that you don’t know shit about fixing Exchange Servers. Just like Doctors, I.T. Consultants’ opinions are increasingly being challenged by clients. The other major driver? At the same time our clients are getting smarter, we are getting dumber. It’s not that we are literally losing brain cells, rather our brain cells are fully saturated. There is too much to learn and it is changing way too fast.
The Death of the Master Builder
There was a time many years ago that if you wanted to build a house you would hire a Master Builder. Together with a few helpers, he would literally undertake every single task, from clearing the lot to installing the ceiling fans. As systems became more complex, municipalities stepped up and questioned this “Expert in Everything” impact on public safety and started requiring special licenses for certain tasks like electrical and plumbing etc. The Master Builder gave way to the Contractor, who was now required to assemble a team of separate experts to build the same house. The idea that a single firm could obtain all of the licenses, with the knowledge and testing that would be required, was no longer viable. Yet, for years clients have hired “Master I.T. Consultants”.
The Rise of the I.T. Contractor
As a business grows from small to midsized or larger, their I.T. requirements grow exponentially. Business owners may not realize this, but we do. There comes a point were we have to make a choice. Do I provide unqualified help for certain issues and hope I can bullshit my client, or do I confess, that for this particular issue, I do not have the expertise required. This is where the contractor model could come in. I can tell my client, “Yes, I can handle that for you by bringing in another firm with that expertise.”. But this presents its own hurdles. First, am I prepared to tell my client that I don’t know everything there is to know, and have my client start thinking they need to find another firm who knows everything? The other hurdle: what if I bring in another firm and my client likes them better and kicks me to the curb? If you have not built a solid relationship of trust with your client then these are high probabilities.
A Foot in Both Camps
For many years I was in the commercial real estate development business and so I have dealt with many construction contractors on large projects. The successful ones knew how to strike a balance between advocating for me, while supporting their sub-contractors, all in the shadow of the knowledge that a change-order from a sub-contractor usually resulted in additional revenue for the contractor also. The ability to balance these conflicting interests is a skill to be learned by the I.T. Consulting community. I expect my contractor to call out his sub-contractors for shoddy work or falling behind schedule or over-charging for a change in their work. At the same time it is a challenge for me to fully trust that my contractor is doing this as my best interests are not always aligned with his, trust is crucial.
Why is this Inevitable?
At this point many of you may be thinking that I am full of crap and this will not only never happen, but is not even necessary. Fair enough. Let me give you something else to think about. I was looking at the Dynamics CRM Online Roadmap yesterday. In it were five significant waves of enhancements, new features, etc. All five are supposed to land in FY14. I would like to think I am somewhat of an expert in this field, but I confess, I don’t know anything about these new waves, and neither does anybody else, at least not enough to claim expert status. I will have to be in a continuous learning mode just to maintain a level of competency in this one single thing: CRM. I will do this, and many of my contemporaries will also, but you will not. You cannot, because this is just one thing and you are offering 20 things. The rate of change is accelerating at a pace that no one can keep up with more than a few things, and you can’t justify staffing up with experts for all of these things because you don’t have enough continuous demand across all these things, no matter how big you are.
What will this look like?
I foresee a time in the very near future where a client will hire an “I.T. Contractor”, not so much based on their specific domain expertise across all of their needs, but on their ability to manage a team of independent partners, each possessing a high level of domain expertise in their respective fields. I know, this is supposed to be the role of a CIO. But frankly, particularly in the small and midsized space they either do not exist, or too many are doing a piss poor job. Many of today’s midsized CIOs are Voodoo perpetrators themselves. And if you agree that it is difficult even for us to maintain competency in this fragmented landscape, the corporate CIO has no chance. Yet they continue to try to be Contractors themselves. Even as vain as Donald Trump is, he still hires real contractors to build his buildings.
Microsoft has been preaching that the best way to grow your practice is to focus on an industry vertical. Sound advice indeed, but even this does not solve the issues I described above. Even if you focus on a vertical, their I.T. requirements are just as wide as anybody else’s. I think we will see more and more firms focusing on not only an industry vertical, but also a platform vertical. Like a Manufacturing/CRM consultant, or a Healthcare/SharePoint expert. There are an awful lot of combinations there to me made. But could you find enough work in a niche of a niche? Well, if the consultants who are currently trying to fill those requirements with incompetence, instead embraced Partner Teaming, this would absolutely work and be the best solution for the client. I get calls all the time, mostly from India, asking if we need any SharePoint help from their 600 person staff, this does not impress me. But imagine thousands of smaller firms, each specializing in a vertical and platform, and assembling an absolute all-star team to serve a client.
Hmm… so how do we get from here to there?
Let me know your thoughts on my prognostications below.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Aug. 27, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,080
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Aug. 27, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,568
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Aug. 27, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,872
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
Aug. 27, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 564
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Aug. 27, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 753
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Aug. 27, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,339
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Aug. 27, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,613
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Aug. 27, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,972
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Aug. 27, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,361
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Aug. 27, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,907
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Aug. 27, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 683
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Aug. 27, 2016 03:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,794
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Aug. 27, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,016
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
Aug. 27, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,744
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Aug. 27, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,032
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Aug. 27, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,947
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Aug. 25, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,263
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
Aug. 25, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 821
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Aug. 25, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,652
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Aug. 25, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,177