How Relevant Will Your Skills Be Over the Next Five Years?
Are You Prepared to Take On The Digital World, and Still Make a Profit?
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to Executives at a Packaging/Manufacturing Company headquartered in Charlotte NC. The topic, IT Transformation.
You’re probably on the technology provider side if you’re reading my blog regularly, but don’t reading just because I’m talking about…Internal IT.
These execs invited me because they want their internal people to act more like outside consultants than IT custodians.
The same must be true of your team. In the past, it was okay to be technically amazing, while lacking the consultative skills of the old BIG-6/8 firms. Not so any more. Everyone must make the move, From Vendor to Advisor – whether and IT admin or third-party provider.
The Catalyst to Change
The Back Story….
My business is designed to help people make the move…but looking back, there was a time where I had to make the move.
I knew, graduating from Drexel University, with my Computer Science Degree in hand, that I wanted something a little different. My classmates were going off to large IT departments to code (in COBOL). That was not me.
I had spent the last 3 years of school working CO-OP jobs with McNeil Consumer Products (Makers of Tylenol)…crawling under desks with COAX cables and early networks, and lugging heavy refrigerator-sized PCs through the halls to various departments.
After graduation I was working for Bank of America (Then NCNB), exploring Token Ring and Novell networks…the bank’s very first local area networks (While at the same time trying to start up a technology VAR called PC Professionals with my brother-in-law(.
It was Fred Deluca, President of Telesis, a third-party cable provider, that really stirred up my entrepreneurial juices. He was intent on getting me to leave the bank and join him in a new venture.
But it was hard to leave…the private jets, the spacious offices, the allure of working uptown in the largest building Charlotte had to offer – After all, I worked for THE BANK!
I was restless but afraid to leave…entrepreneurship was in my blood.
The schools systems try to beat it out of you, but mine wouldn’t die. I was born to do something a little more adventuresome.
Then one day the applecart was upset. My boss was leaving the company to go sell for Wellfleet Networks. He said he’d be happy to recommend me for his position – but the writing was on the wall, there were greener pastures out there in the wild…
That was Chuck Robbins – yes, Cisco Systems’ CEO,….
Within 2 weeks I followed Chuck out to door. As a Wellfleet Reseller, I partnered with Chuck to open up new opportunities in the Charlotte area…Our first big win was Rexham Packaging – a global deal that put both of us on the map.
Looking back, Fred and Chuck, along with several other mentors, led the way, encouraging me to get out there and do something new…taking a risk.
Eventually I joined a small band of technologist to help start and grow a southeast integrator – Piedmont Technology Group…which would later be split into three companies – nGuard, Stalwart, and the remaining third, sold to Forsyth in Chicago.
5 Aspects of Technologist to Consultant Transformation
Not everyone is cut out to work as a consultant.
Transforming technologist (who like the stability of big company trimmings, or the regular paycheck that comes with salaries) may not make it.
There are 5 tests to help identify the consultant…In my presentation yesterday, this was my focus. We dove into each one in some detail to help separate those who will continue working to keep the lights on, and those will go on to discover new land!
- Can they only talk tech, or do they think in terms of things (ROI, Competitive Advantage, Operational Efficiency, Risk Mitigation)?
- Are the tactical or entrepreneurial? The entrepreneurial thinker is a student…they never pretend to know everything…they create 100 times, fail 99, and discover the one that works…They take risks (but calculated risks, not recklessness). They are trusted advisors – they are trusted, they are able to advise.
- More Interested in infrastructure or Asset Owners? Computers are tools to the consultant. They make the job easier, faster, better…or something. Computers fascinate the technician; they enable the consultant.
- Certs or Skills? The technician is building a resume of certifications, but he often lacks the skills necessary to bridge the gap between business and automation…he speaks in TLAs and is proud to say he know to dissect the Windows Registry.
- Which does he see as more important, his knowledge or his character? Dale Carnegie told us years ago, 90% of success is character, the remaining 10% is skill or know-how.
The Final Third…
In the last section of my talk, I addressed the conversion process…
Once you’ve identified those who can make the transition, a discipleship process is needed to take them over…
Look at any high-priced consulting model (such as KPMG or PWC). There’s always a mentor program. They don’t hire their people with skills, and then just let them go…the mentorship program is a program of indoctrination and evaluation…
They learn the language, memorize and practice the methodologies, and carry the brand badge forward…
Those who won’t make PARTNER are identified along the way, and set out on new career paths, usually with one of the firm’s larger clients.
From time to time these alumni are included to keep the family in tact, and the brand growing inside these client organizations.
It’s a well thought-out strategy to recruit, indoctrinate, purify, and expand…
How will your organization fair through this age of transformation and digitalization? Get on track with making the move from vendor to advisor, and remain relevant through the coming years…your business depends on it.
© David Stelzl
PS. Your next step: Read From Vendor to Adviser, and get the details on pricing models, proposals that close, discovery and analysis tools, and so much more…it’s the transformation every third-party provider must make.