Plug Into a Technology Ecosystem for Business Success
Most of us first heard the word “ecosystem” in high school biology class. If your science teacher was anything like mine, you learned how elements in the natural world – from plants and animals to soil and air – are interdependent on each other. The successful interaction of these individual parts is what allows our world to thrive.
Now let’s jump from the natural world to the IT world. Like an ecology-based ecosystem, the technology ecosystem consists of a number of individual but interrelated elements. Businesses that fully understand how the parts of the technology ecosystem work together and how they can leverage the resources of the ecosystem for their own benefit will quickly find themselves meeting their goals and growing their bottom lines.
Today’s technology ecosystem consists of four elements: customers, solutions, technology teams and services. Understanding the role of each is critical to learning how to take advantage of the ecosystem as a whole.
Customers. One of the most important parts of the technology ecosystem is customers. Customers need to keep up with their competition, and they know that technology is the best way to differentiate themselves. Meeting the rapidly evolving technology needs of our IT solution provider customers is paramount to the success of their – and your – business success.
Solutions. Solutions fulfill our customers’ technology requirements. Because each customer is unique, and its technology needs are always evolving, a top-notch technology ecosystem provides quick and easy access to a broad choice of solutions from which to choose, allowing you to meet your customers’ changing needs and positioning you to help drive change in their businesses.
Services. The services you deliver to your customer on top of solid hardware and software solutions are a critical part of the technology ecosystem. Why? The services you are able to provide – consulting, business intelligence, help desk and so forth – position you as a valuable partner, differentiate your business and solidify the client relationship. The services you provide are what bind the customer need to the solution. This is how you add value.
Technology teams. A technology ecosystem connects customers to solutions and services via technology teams. Each technology team consists of more than just service technicians; it’s made up of people who represent every step of the customer journey, including sales, finance, consulting, marketing and more. Each team member provides deep ecosystem knowledge about that team’s specific area of focus. If your business has a single focus, such as managed services, it may have only one team. If your set of offerings is broader, best practices dictate that you should stand up a technology team for each unique offering.
Ease the Shift to a Customer-First Focus
During the past decade or so, as clients have grown smarter about technology, IT solution providers no longer find themselves able to dazzle by hooking up hardware and turning on software features. Customers simply expect that technology will do what they want it to do. End of story.
Today, the expectation is that instead of explaining how the technology works, we will explain how the technology helps grow a business. This makes connecting an outcome that technology will enable more important than ever. This represents a huge shift in our relationships with current and prospective clients. Increasingly savvy customers and exponential technological innovation have provided an opportunity for IT businesses to move away from their traditional roots as technology suppliers to take on the role of a trusted partner.
To make this shift, the focus must evolve to one where understanding a customer’s needs takes priority over the laser-focused selling of technology solutions. Listening to a customer and considering its needs first is critical to establishing your organization as a valuable partner and trusted adviser rather than as a simple provider of technology.
The best – and easiest – way to meet this change in expectations is to leverage a thriving technology ecosystem that gives technology teams the ability to match services, solutions and relationships to a customer’s unique needs. (See how it’s all coming together?) Plugging into a technology ecosystem creates the opportunity for every single technology organization – even those who are part of an internal IT team – to provide an unprecedented variety of choices for solutions and services.
The result? A positive outcome for everyone. Both you and your customers gain a competitive advantage, new capabilities and the opportunity to capitalize on new opportunities for revenue, which makes everyone a winner.
Craig Fulton is chief product officer at ConnectWise, where he oversees product management and development of the ConnectWise platform portfolio. Fulton credits his 20+ years in the technology sector, including time spent as a support desk and field technician, for helping him understand what partners want and need from their business management software.