Selling hardware, software and IT services has changed big time over the last years. As Information Technology became more pervasive, the decision making unit has evolved. According to Forrester, 65% of technology decisions are influenced by or made by line of business executives. At the same time, the CIO role has become far more strategic rather than technological. The Service Provider of the future is undergoing the same evolution, thinking and behaving as an entrepreneur.
Change is the order of the day for everyone, and especially for service providers. Next to the technological evolutions that come ever faster (artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, Machine Learning, robotics, edge computing,….) there’s also a switch in business models, from selling hardware and software to selling subscriptions to services in a XaaS-model. To make matters more complex, the people making technology purchasing decisions are no longer automation specialists but a mix of technologists and line of business managers. Forrester research suggests that 29% of technology decisions have no involvement from the IT department. And six out of ten business executives are significantly involved in deciding and hiring third party service firms to implement and integrate these projects into the back-end of their company.
For Service Providers, this means two things: 1/ the number of people they are selling into at any given company has increased tenfold, 2/ the argumentation to sell will switch from bits and bytes to business value. This is even the case when approaching the Chief Information Officer, who has moved on from being a back-office worker to become a strategic driver of the digital transformation that all companies are going through. The IT department has morphed from a cost centre (or a money pit, to use Nicholas Carr’s words) to a division that helps an organization’s profit growth. In other words, Service Providers are now talking to entrepreneurs. So they need to display the entrepreneurial spirit too. We don’t only to this by unburdening business leaders from a number of tasks, but also by putting ourselves in their shoes and thinking like they do.
Are you self-propelling?
Having built a company myself, setting up a business plan and securing funding from venture capitalists, I know what it takes to be an entrepreneur. And I can say I recognize the characteristics that define a good entrepreneur in many of the executives at the Service Providers and telecom companies that our Global Alliance team works with. To me, these are the qualities that portray a true entrepreneur:
- He is self-propelling: an entrepreneur needs no external motivation to lead and to make his business grow.
- He thinks outside of the box, not by spewing wild ideas all the time, but by seeking combinations that add value for the customer. This is very much how the Dell EMC ecosystem functions, mixing our strength with the qualities of the partners we work with.
- He is a visionary and able to share this vision with his co-workers so they become exciting and self-propelling themselves.
- He has the ability to combine existing “components” them to create new solutions.
Wanted: trusted advisor
There is good news for anyone wanting to become a trusted advisor. Last year, a Gartner survey revealed almost seven out of ten business leaders want to put their digital business initiatives in the hand of external partners, and they count on both local service providers and global service providers to support them in the long term, next to their own internal development teams.
One crucial element in being an entrepreneur is the environment we thrive in. As for myself, I am very happy with the conditions that Dell EMC creates for me to do business in. Michael Dell has set up a framework for everyone to work in and provides us with the necessary tools to make us successful. In a broader economical setting, that’s also the task of our governments: creating the right circumstances to let companies flourish and let entrepreneurs do their job. That’s why I am quite proud to see that the OECD regularly places Switzerland among the most innovative countries in Europe, although we must be careful not to get overwhelmed by state bureaucracy. We all look up to people like Marc Andreesen or Elon Musk, but in the right setting, European visionaries can turn Europe into our own Silicon Valley. When I look at our Global Alliances and our ecosystem, I am convinced we have the right people here to make Europe claim its rightful place in the IT world.