Customers don’t want solutions, they want outcomes!

Over the last 15 Years IT & Telecoms companies have been working really hard to transform from selling boxes to selling solutions. This has been a massively difficult transition as leaders quickly found that the skills required to be successful are completely different to what they have. There are plenty of companies that led the charge, IBM is a good example and I know organisations are still involved in this development as prices erode and margins become more challenged.

Compounding this, as these organisations have been head down, even in the trenches the world changed under their feet and some understandably didn’t realise, 3 key events and activities came together like a perfect storm, very well articulated in the book Consumption Economics.

The iPhone, the recession and cloud computing. The emergence of the iPhone has heightened peoples expectations that IT should be simplified, we can easily press buttons and use apps, IT should be the same, the recession has led people to do more with less, and although it has been difficult they managed. Finally cloud computing has led people to expect pay as you go utility like services that add value. So whats this got to do with anything. Well, thanks for asking. Most organisations talk to customers about solutions as they have been rehearsing this for the last 15 years, they also try to re-enforce this with stories about how they have the experience and the’ve done it before, but they don’t back this up by either adapting the price accordingly because as they have experience they are not starting from scratch, or ultimately making the solutions outcome based because they really do have the experience and know how to do this, so they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. What customers now want are small incremental engagements demonstrate value and are business outcome based. The challenge is, the skills we have today are not completely fit for purpose. In essence we have the cricket players that need to play football. The skills required for this engagement of tomorrow needs to be more rounded. The current path for a technical person to develop is to be more technical, which was the right path in the past as you could demonstrate technical proficiency with Customers. In the new world our people need to complement their technical capability my being more rounded. They need to leverage their existing skills by understanding business, being more commercially savvy and improving their personal effectiveness by developing their relationship skills and interdependence in order to work well with others and bring people with them, rather than out-smart them.

So in summary we now need to move from Boxes to Solutions to Outcomes, or as a good friend put it to me from boxes to brains to making it happen!