Matt Hattersley is the Technical Director at Talk Straight Limited. Here he talks about running a converged business in 2015.
I was brought up in an engineering household. Our dining room was often strewn with bits of AS400 and old IBM mainframes. It made for an interesting childhood, whilst most children spent their early years playing in parks and kicking balls around, I spent long periods in clean rooms carefully wiping grime from disk heads with Isopropyl Alcohol or checking endless sticks of RAM for defects.
I was an easily distracted child (as most are), so after thirty minutes or so, I’d be off my chair exploring or asking incessantly if I could do something else, normally to chants of ‘Dad, I’m bored!!!!!’ In answer to this he would often reply;
‘Do one thing, and do it well.’ – George Hattersley
Words from my father that I try to remember in business. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t always right, but like a demented Nostradamus he had his moments of glory. This one stuck with me always. Conversely, the recent trend of convergence seems starkly at odds with this philosophy. So how to reconcile these two ideals? I think the key here is to choose technologies which share a common set of skills or methodologies and don’t try to be everything to everyone.
We all understand why companies do this, ‘if I do everything I get more money’. Sure they dress it up, using terms like ‘Sticky’ and ‘One stop shop’, but realistically we’ve seen a lot of businesses do this in recent years only to tarnish the one thing they do well by doing five other things poorly.
So here we go with 5 tips for running a converged business:
1. Choose technologies with similar skill sets – Your engineers will love you for this, a new technology often strikes fear in your back office team. I’ve heard many times before ‘We sell this now? I haven’t got a clue!’
2. Spend money on technical training – We’ve all called a support line, only to be told ‘I don’t know much about that, let me grab someone who does’. Give your staff the tools they need to support your customers.
3. Run internal product training – It isn’t just your engineers which need to understand what these products do, it’s a complete supply chain. Everyone from Sales to Accounts need to understand your products and what they do to some extent. This knowledge breeds confidence that will be felt by your customers when they liaise with you.
4. Don’t forget your flagship products – Your platform has been built and designed with given products in mind. It’s very easy to get a bad dose of the Emperor’s new clothes about this and forget what you’re best at. Don’t neglect what your drivers are, these new products are the frosting.
5. Ensure that the products work well together – It’s one thing to produce two products that the client needs, but having them integrated ensures that the stickiness you are after makes actual sense.
So there you have it. Easier said than done I know. But this overlooks the main tip, another nugget of wisdom as passed down from Father to Son for generations. One that in our fast paced environment is easy to forget.
‘Measure Twice, Cut Once’ – Every Dad, everywhere.
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