How would you characterise a Marathon Runner? This is probably an "easy" question as there are plenty of key attributes that spring to mind : determined, focused, resourceful, slow (relatively), mad, fit, etc. Now try again characterising your client. What makes your client "tick"? Interesting question you might say - Why would I need to know so much about my client...?
There is a massive shift in the IT industry and for us as IT Professionals to be successful and "impactful" (read "making a difference"); to succeed as Partner an IT Professional must :
- Understand the Client;
- Deliver the Expectations;
- Surprise your Client.
Understand: From an Infrastructure perspective (we need to start somewhere) you will have to ensure that you "know" the market your client is in; what the main challenges are and what the key business objectives / targets / goals are. In addition content knowledge is paramount - for example DC related skills / knowledge and experience. Also, ensure that you know who sits in front of you; what are his/her's objectives and key focus areas.
Deliver: Ensure that you "deliver the goods"; that you are meeting expectations. This could be meeting the pre-agreed outcomes, either for a session, a workshop or a piece of work. This is important as it set's you up for the final stage - the surprise.
Surprise: This is all about having a view on what is / or could be valuable to your client. What new technologies could deliver value to the client? What solutions could improve speed, flexibility, agility and/or reduce cost, outages and / or increase revenue etc?
Yes, content is important; if you are working as a supplier helping your client to transform the infrastructure to achieve certain outcomes, then Deliver is key with Surprise as an added value. If, however you want to be a Partner, someone who is recognised as a trusted advisor you have to also Understand.
A bit too "soft" you say? Well, not really. We are all working in a people business and far too often we forget what it means to work with people. Ensuring you Understand your client is key when wanting to add real value; it is key to ensuing that you can anticipate, outline and provide what the client needs and not "just" what he wants.
Lets use an example. Say you are working as an IT supplier and you are about to meet the person who is in charge of a large Retail Store. The session was set up to provide high level operational report for the ePOS systems (the Tills or Cash Registers). Now, you are keen IT professional who wants to ensure the client sees you as a Partner and not "just" a supplier. This means you will have to understand the clients current and medium/long term stores strategy. You will need to understand "basket size" as well as the challenges you would have as a "picker". You do not have to become a retail expert, but it is certainly very helpful if you know and understand the retail business as much as possible. Combine this with excellent technology related subject knowledge, with top in class presentational skills and with a clear "sales" strategy you will impress and help the client driving more out of his/hers IT landscape.
As a supplier you will be able to Deliver, and maybe to Surprise. But, as a Partner you have to also Understand.
Thanks for Reading.
About the Author: Gunnar Menzel has been an IT professional for over 25 years and is the VP and Chief Architect Officer for Capgemini’s Infrastructure Business. Gunnar is also currently the President for the Open Data Centre Alliance. His main focus is business- enabling technology innovation.
Picure taken from : http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/london-marathon-2012-fancy-dress-802410