disconnected world of it

Technology can be (on some days) be the greatest profession to be in, the thrill of solving problems, making processes more efficient, speeding things up and generally making the world an easier and better place is what gives most us (decent) IT people a buzz…

Recent events, that I won’t bother going into again (*cough* Dell *cough* useless), have made me think about a few things and it’s really got me thinking of throwing in the towel all-together. This week, I’m finishing off a Cisco Call Manager Installation, I’ve migrated a whole system to thin client and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, helping a client with their Exchange 2003 to 2013 migration, dealing with support issues from the mundane to the interesting. I’m also discussing new opportunities, designing an emergency telephony system for a part of the UK’s national infrastructure and more.

On paper, or screen, or whatever – this all looks to be the dream job of many techies. Variety, strategically important and in some cases big projects. The MBA in me also loves the diversity of our clients, I’m seeing construction, the best of British manufacturing and commerce as well as the good old services sector. Unleashed carries a very heavy toolkit and naturally so – we can’t rule in out any vendor, solution or anything like that – we have to deal with everyone and know just about everyone. You never know when a specific product will have the edge in solving a particular business problem.

However, I’m not going to deny that I have ‘favourites’ being vendor agnostic is a difficult thing to explain to people – whilst I don’t care if it’s Dell or HP or Cisco that you have – I do care who the easier company is to deal with.

On paper again, that all sounds great. I can hear the cogs in some people’s heads wanting to join us! Where everything goes to bag wash is you then have to start relying on your suppliers, you have account managers who are largely non-technical salespeople, who then rely on pre-sales technical who are largely not-capable of working as an IT Manager and at the end if it all – we’re lucky if we have a quote that passes our seal of approval – I’m blasting too many proposals out of the water by the time I’m reviewing them.

There’s no secret in how we want to deal with people:

  • A fair price for a good product (we don’t want to be ripped off and neither do our customers)
  • The salespeople need to know what they’re selling to ask appropriate questions
  • The technical people need to ask appropriate questions about what they’re developing a solution for
  • Accuracy, the quote and solution needs to be accurate (it makes us look good and impresses our clients)
  • First time accuracy, reduces our cost of sales and that of our suppliers (it should be a no-brainer!)

Unfortunately, what we’ve found is a chain of people who either appear to be incompetent or at worst, just totally do not care about their work and what they’re doing. They, to me, make a meal of things and actually make things more complicated than they actually are. If they worked for me… well they wouldn’t for long. Ultimately they’re pushing up the cost of sales and spending too long dealing with a single quote or issue due to the fact that they didn’t get it right first time.

I am a realist – during this pretty rough ride of a recession, the good sales people both sales and technical roles have left – why would you sit in a commission based job with a glorified accountant managing you who won’t own up to the realities of the economy when setting your targets? If you can, you’ll go and get a salaried job and not take the stress. This has left a churn of people in technology companies who have all been relatively mediocre at best.

So this has really left the industry (the channel) a bit disconnected, my ideals of efficiency, speeding things up and making things better is completely at odds to how distributors and some manufacturers treat us and it’s largely due to the disconnection between people and product. The best salespeople I’ve come across (believe it or not there are a few salespeople I like) have always been some part technical, they know what the products are there for, they can put a solution using different products and are great integrators. They also know when to back-off and generally work with the best technical people (because they are good enough to know who the bad ones are).

It’s this connection that the good people have between themselves and the technology that makes the best people for me to deal with.

Doing business with us – it’s not hard, I don’t think we ask for much – just do your job and do it right, however if you want to be one of these people who can’t be bothered doing the basics right and you don’t care about what you do – I don’t care to hear from you either. Those disconnected from their technology and products need not waste their time. We will only do the best for our clients and as such expect nothing less of our suppliers.