Discover more from The Business Technologist's Journal
When you read the title, bet you thought this was going to be about strategies for more effective selling. Nope.
In this entry into the Business Technologist’s Journal we talk about how the role is changing. Before you can sell them any kind of technology services, you first need to develop a strategy that best resolves their challenges and show them the technology you’re going to use to effect that strategy. This is true whether you’re a staff technologist, or a professional practitioner.
Many professionals move back and forth between what we call the “buy” side and the “sell” side. That is, those companies who buy technology services and products from those who sell them.
One technologist who left a large technology consulting practice to work for a major bank commented as he left. He said, “It’s going to be so much easier over there where you don’t need to sell anything to anyone. You just do projects. It’s going to be great.”
It was only a few months later that he came asking for his old job back. “Sometimes its just terrifying,” he explained. “If you want to do anything, you first need to get funds allocated to do it. And they torture you when you ask.”
No. The grass is seldom greener on the other side of the fence.
It’s Gotta Do What It’s Gotta Do!
Please excuse the Bronx accent, but it can’t be said better. Nobody in business invests in any technology just for the sake of that technology. They invest in what that technology can do for them, and if what it does is strategic enough it may justify the expense.
We talk about return on investment (ROI) as if its something easy to calculate. It isn’t. Never. We total all the upfront costs involved in acquiring the new technology. We then approximate the ongoing repetitive costs we will have going forward. The total of all of these gives us our total cost of ownership (TCO). Then we try to figure out how much our profit has risen directly as a result of the introduction of the new technology. Wondering how to do that? So is everyone else. Take your best guesstimate.
What’s It Gotta Do?
This is where the role of the business technologist has changed. Following in the footsteps of the chief information officer (CIO) who transitioned from being a technical resource to become a vital part of the C-Suite, deeply involved in the planning and management of the entire enterprise.
Today’s staff business technologist must learn the business. How it operates. How its customers think. How suppliers act. Where the process challenges lie. The ultimate goals and objectives of the enterprise.
A single business technologist seldoms does anything alone. The team generally identifies some problem, some process error, some delay or other flaw in the existing processes. Or they look at a new emerging tech product and immediately seize upon a way in which it could really benefit the business.
The next thing they need to do is to construct a business case explaining how their proposed introductions or changes would benefit the enterprise, how much the ROI might be, and any other evidence they can provide of the wisdom of taking this action.
In other words, they need to sell their idea.
More often than not, tactical ideas or point solutions won’t win any hearts or minds. But a good strategic improvement that delivers great strategic advantage will always be met with welcome. That doesn’t mean they’ll get approved, but executive reviewers will always remember those who are working to improve the company’s competitive position.
For those working on the “buy” side of the tech industry, this is an excellent way to score points even when you fail to sell your idea. When that happens, come back and propose a “proof-of-concept” project to demonstrate your idea’s value at very low cost or risk. You never know when a move like that will land well. Your persistence will usually be appreciated.
And on the “Sell” Side?
Think about it. We’ve just described basically what you do for a living. Your advantage is that you can repeat the process across many companies, which always increases your likelihood of success.
We still talk about solutions for specific industries as being “vertical.” The fact is that the more specific industries you can learn about, the greater your likelihood of being a truly successful business technologist. Yes, it’s always good to know your bits and bytes, but that’s not what customers buy.