How Service Providers Should Be Helping

I came across a great read the other day on a topic I thought might be of interest to our readers.  The post provided a summary of the address to Ingram Micro’s partner conference in Dallas by their CIO, Mario Leone.

My interpretation of Mario’s message was that VARs (and by extension service providers like MikeTango) need to be taking a business focus when supporting their clients; it’s no longer acceptable to simply provide technology solutions without this “business context”. While his message was likely directed at larger organizations that have a dedicated CIO and IT department, the message is just as applicable to VARs supporting any business.

A few relevant topics he addressed that are near-and-dear to our hearts:

It is a myth that IT is a black hole. This cannot and should not be.  While business leaders may not understand the ins-and-outs of specific technologies, they should be able to (and want to!) understand the impact of these technologies on their business.  IT is an enabler – it allows organizations to be more effective and more productive in delivering services.  Technology doesn’t come for free, but it can be managed, and it needs to be understood.

Organizations believe they spend too much money and time on IT. While this is often the rap against IT, when we dig deeper this is typically not the case, and certainly doesn’t ever need to be true.  IT is an investment, and should be seen in this light.  When we consider what technology encompasses today, including voice, data, business processing, etc., it is integral to virtually every aspect of an organization.  Seen in this way, IT dollars tend to be the most effective money spent within an organization.

A VAR should help organizations sort out all the noise around new and changing technologies, and help deliver solutions that are relevant and focused. This topic is crucial, and one we think differentiates great providers from the rest.  Every month it seems that technology is changing and new tricks are coming on  the market.  To really add value, a vital responsibility of a service provider is to provide a clear, business-focused message around what technologies are appropriate, how best to leverage them, and to filter out all the other noise.

This last topic has come into play for us twice in the past two weeks.  In both cases, we were in the middle of helping a client  implement a solution that fits their business well and meets all of their criteria, including keeping costs under control.  In both cases, someone on the client’s staff “heard about an alternative / newer / cheaper” approach, and in both cases, the alternative approach would have been a disaster.  Along with everything else we do, our role calls on us to provide our clients’ leadership the context and confidence that the chosen approach is the right one.

A good summary of Mario’s address is available at http://www.thevarguy.com/2010/06/09/ingram-micro-cio-how-vars-should-pitch-to-cios/.

Enjoy!

Paul

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