Where have Others done it Before?
I am constantly out talking with different organizations and our customers about their business issues and IT challenges, as well as the IT trends we see happening. It is our hope that this helps to give them some clarity when it comes to their own IT environments. And we can all use some clarity (see older post on that here). We all know our industry is so dynamic where things are constantly changing and I've made the argument in other posts that that is one of the reasons why many of us are in IT: specifically because it's always changing. I enjoy being part of in an industry that is constantly evolving where new solutions and methodologies are the mainstay for what we do day in and day out.
There's also no hours anymore in what we do, as the technology services that IT provides need to be up and available for the organizations they serve 24x7. Whether that takes a few hours to do, or all day, it needs to be done. And a great way to get clarity on your journey (as it really isn't destination, as it's never complete or done) is to understand where your key strategic partners have done it before.
We encourage our customers to talk with and network with similar organizations in similar industries so that they know what others are doing in terms of the types of challenges and issues they experience. There's great value in this, and we all know it's a prudent thing to do for knowledge, opportunities, and for networking. We also encourage meeting and talking with peers in different industries. This helps to stimulate ideas from outside of your industry and gets people thinking in different ways. Everyone in your industry might have similar ways to address a problem/challenge/issue/opportunity because the thinking is overarched by the same industry you all share. But others will have different perspectives and it's these different perspectives that can be very refreshing and get people's wheels turning to help reinforce or stimulate different thinking. The organizations we work with find this extremely valuable. And they should. We can't know it all, so let's see how and what others are doing and where they've done it before.
At our organization we hold roundtable sessions, lunches, dinners and other events with the specific purpose of getting our customers together outside of their office environments so that they can meet and network with peers specifically in other industries. The whole goal is to get people together to allow them to build bridges, network and share ideas. We facilitate and arrange topics of discussion but these sessions and conversations take on a life of their own - and we encourage and want that. This is not a sales discussion but a meeting in a comfortable environment to share, network and learn with our technology and business leaders as conversation guides. Our customers have found it invaluable because they are able gain perspective and understand where others have done it before.
When working with our customers with their IT and business challenges (and that's all IT is really for, isn't it?) we come in and talk to them about our portfolio of the services and solutions we provide. We've been doing this stuff for 34 years so we have an extensive portfolio. But what's most important and what customers truly want to understand is not just what we do, but where we've done it before. And that's exactly how it should be.
I even joke with organizations when we are telling them about the things we do that we understand that it's all just words until you have a chance to experience our services and solutions, so take whatever we say with a grain of salt. Because while what we say we can do is important, the real value is where we've done it before. That's true value. And that what our customers want to know about.
An example: A few months ago we met with mid-sized organization to discuss our services and solution capabilities. We presented our capabilities and then talked about the dozens of other organizations we've worked with before specifically around the challenge they were having and how we helped them. We found out afterwards that a few days before our presentation that another organization had come in to talk to them about their capabilities as well. The customer that the other organization gave a great presentation, but they only talked about what they can do, and not where they done it before. Which organization would you prefer to work with? The one that talks about what they can do or the one that talks about what they do and where they done it before. The old adage is so true: the "proof is in the pudding". And we see situations like this all the time.
So what's the message here? When working with your partners, make sure you have a small ecosystem of great partners that you can truly rely on - I've talked about that throughout my blog over the years. It's so important to understand all that they do - again, I've I I've talked about that ad nausea as well. But make sure you have a very good and deep understanding as to where they've done it before. Where they have worked with similar customers, with similar challenges, and how they help to address them. Demand that of partners and they will step up. And if they don't have extensive experience in an area, they will be open and honest around that too. But I believe it's the most powerful thing your partners bring to the table for you in terms of value. Their solutions, their services, their experiences and, most importantly, where they done it before.