Saturday, November 10, 2007

Selling Technology vs. Selling Business Consulting

Come back in time with me a hundred years. Around the year 1907 the world travelled in 1) Foot, 2) Horse, and 3) Rail. There were a few bicycles, a few automobiles, and the ocassional Yak. But basically, small-scale travel happened by horse. That might be horseback or horse-drawn carriage.

Many many people existed to support the horse travel industry. They made wheels and seats and buggy whips. Some made carriage bodies, like the Fisher Body Company (originally Standard Wagon Works).

And when the automobile took the place of the horse-drawn carriage, many companies went out of business. Why? Because they were in the business of supporting the horse-drawn carriage industry. But Fisher Body was in a different business. They were in the Transportation business.

The Fisher brothers didn't whine that their family business was going away. And, unlike many other manufacturers, they didn't keep trying to use horseless carriage bodies on motorcars. They retooled and rededsigned. They built auto bodies for dozens of companies, including both Ford and Chevrolet. Eventually they were bought out by General Motors.


So what business are you in?

If you're in the business of supporting Windows XP and SBS 2003, then your days are numbered.

If you're in the business of supporting Small Business Server, then your days are numbered.

If you're in the business of supporting Server 2003 and 2008, then your days are numbered.

But . . .

If you're in the business of supporting small- and medium-sized business, then your days look sunny and bright.

Here's why.

Any specific technology will fade and die. Yes, I still own a Commodore 64. But I don't use it much.

What lives and thrives is business.

If you're a technology consultant, then you're always going to be running to stay even. You'll always be focused on a thing that's about to be replaced.

But if you're a business consultant, then you get to plan ahead, focus on the big picture, and help your clients be successful.

Technology costs money. Technology consultants cost money. On the big business balance sheet, everything to do with technology is money flushed down the toilet. In three or four years, it's a pile of junk, no matter what you buy.

Busines consulting saves money. It helps clients spend the right amount at the right time on the right things. Business consultants are part of the team. Part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you're a business consultant, it doesn't matter what the technology is: you'll be there to help.


How do you know if you're in the technology business vs. the business consulting business?

The primary indicator is:

-- Do you sell a new server setup as a one-time project and then have no ongoing contract for maintenance?

If you answered yes, then you're in the technology business.

Your days are numbered. You've been warned.


  1. I further distinguish between those who are truly doing business consulting and those who are selling IT services, even if they are selling those services on a recurring basis. See

  2. I've often told my clients or prospective clients that if we can't improve their bottom line, then not only shouldn't they hire me, they should probably get rid of their computers as well. See My Blog Post


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