1 Vote

Why Your Customers Problem is Your Problem Even if it is not Your Problem

hanging TVGetting ready for the Austin IT Symposium on Tuesday I made a few calls trying to find a 30” monitor for our table to loop a great video clip related to virtualization.  I was also on a mission to find something nice to raffle off as part of the event.

First stop, the AV company providing the equipment for the event, figuring this would be the easiest option with the least amount of work for me.  I was right, but I was not counting on the fact that $250 was the going rate to rent a monitor for 1 day.  That is the approximate price as a new TV/monitor.  Something is wrong with that model but that is a topic for another day.

Cut to Best Buy….

At Best Buy I admit I had high expectations and was not disappointed by the quantity and brands of televisions on display.  However, even with four+ Blue Shirts in the area and another guy trying to sell DirecTV systems, I could not get any assistance.

Cut to Sam’s Club…

At Sam’s Club, I was greeted in the TV section and asked if I needed any help.  He did a nice job of explaining the features and helping me figure out what feature/function trade-offs happen at different price points.

I asked him how he came to know so much about TVs and he said he did a little research on his own and asked the guys at Best Buy to explain the pieces he did not understand.  Sam’s guy got his TV education by walking down to Best Buy at the other end of the shopping center, but that is not the most interesting part.

A few more minutes of conversation revealed the guy did not even work for Sam’s Club.  He worked for DirecTV and was there to sell satellite systems.  Once I had my TV for the event he asked me if he could explain how DirecTV could give my new HD TV more HD channels, a lower monthly price and true 1080p HD quality that I was not getting from my cable provider.

I said yes.  Yes, because he earned it helping me.  Yes because he helped me solve a problem that many would say it was not in his best interest to do.

Through blind luck or careful planning, he discovered that helping me solve my problem of which TV to buy created an opportunity to talk about DirecTV.

Helping me solve my problem created a problem he could solve.

Contrast this guy with his counterpart at Best Buy selling Direct TV.  That guy was not interested in helping me buy a TV; he was only interested in selling DirecTV.

The lesson here is that even if you are the best and most knowledgeable sales professional on your particular product or service you are still going to miss opportunities if there are problems your customers need to solve before they can focus on your offering.  Get good at identifying the problems that keep your prospects from even considering your offering, learn how to help them solve those problems, and your sales efforts will be rewarded accordingly.

1 Vote

Get Clear on Your Message Before it gets “Cloudy”

 

The_Cloud_Ignorance_Is_Bliss

I heard an interesting quote today on a CIO Magazine webcast from Steven John, Strategic CIO of Workday, speaking about “The Cloud.”

“If you are doing what someone else can do then what only you can do is not getting done.”

Steven John, Strategic CIO, Workday

Steven’s point, that if another organization is more capable of doing what you are doing, give or take some due diligence, push the work out and focus your efforts on what you are uniquely skilled to do as an individual or a company, makes sense.

So much sense, in fact, corporations in this country have been following the strategy of pushing out jobs to the other side of the border and the other side of the world because the skill is there, the pay is low and they work while we sleep.  In short it does not make sense or cents to do the work here.

C-level executives are wrestling with this “Cloud” problem figuring out answers to “Cloud 101″ questions today like how to best deploy their human capital.  Tomorrow they will also be fighting upstart competitors in “Cloud 201: How not to get eaten by the little guy that has a lower cost basis than you and no legacy gear to work around.”

OK, so what does this have to do with you?

It is time for you to take stock and figure out what “only you can do” and get busy getting good at it before the Cloud comes and rains on your parade.

If you are an IT executive, look for opportunities to free up your IT resources.  Create an internal cloud; use a public provider or some hybrid model pitched by VMware and Citrix to push the things you don’t need to be doing, the commodities, to the line of business or a strategic partner.

Consultant?  Find and focus on your niche and push off everything else including and mowing the grass on those days you work from home to specialists if your revenue stream permits.

There are real live schools contemplating replacing teachers with computers in some specific test cases, how far could behind could a sales or consulting job be that is built on the model of being paid to educate others and demonstrate expertise?

As I build up the territory I am in, I am facing a similar problem today.  To hit my self-imposed targets for the year the math tells me I need to do more research and make more new contacts than it is practical for me to make in a day and still work on the rest of what I do.

I spent four hours building a nine page spreadsheet detailing every aspect of my business and defining the ratios I need to monitor to stay on track.  (in retrospect, probably should have farmed that task out)  Now I am faced with three choices.

1.  Keep doing what I was doing, and go look for my Ignorance is Bliss T-shirt.

2.  Focus on where I am strongest, building my community of customers and growing those relationships, pawn off low level client research and paperwork tasks, and follow my plan.

3.  Try to straddle the fence and will myself to do it all, not let anything fall through the cracks, maintain exceptional customer service, toss a hand grenade into my personal life and get “We miss you” cards from my kids at work because I am never home.

 

The quote I led off with and my spreadsheet exercise really opened my eyes.  This morning I would have said I was on track to have a great year.  Now I realize to hit my personal stretch-goal I need an assistant to help me find and research 2200 prospect firms with at least one of ten pain points, with a certain organizational structure and head count so I can have 200 meetings to earn 43 net new clients.

And I need to streamline my process so that this activity level will be practical and my own best intentions do not blow up in my face.

Can you make the changes that will let you find and focus in on what only you can do?

I’m ready.  Are you?  To the Cloud!

0 Vote

TASB CIO, Eric Hungate joins Advisory Board for Austin IT Symposium

Eric Hungate, CIO of the Texas Association of School Boards has become part of the Advisory Board for the inaugural Austin IT Symposium and is spearheading the effort with Val King of ThinOps Consulting, an event sponsor, to establish a scholarship program for students pursuing IT careers.

“Eric opened our eyes to the fact that the overall number of IT jobs is increasing, but the number of students being trained for IT careers is decreasing. As part of the Austin IT Symposium we want to give back to some of the high school and college level programs that are preparing students for IT careers. Lehman High School in Kyle, Texas which is sponsored by the Texas State University AITP chapter is a great example of the types of programs we want to encourage” said Val King, ThinOps Consulting.

About Eric Hungate

Eric Hungate is Chief Information Officer (CIO) of The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). He is responsible for the discovery, development, and delivery of quality information technology services and solutions to optimize the operational effectiveness and performance of TASB.

Prior to TASB, Mr. Hungate worked in IT management and consulting for over 25 years with positions at Ernst & Young, the Robert Mondavi Winery, Fireman’s Fund Insurance, Union Oil, and Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co. He has taught Strategic Analysis at the University of Texas, McCombs Graduate School of Business, and has provided project management consulting for large scale ERP software litigation.

Mr. Hungate earned his undergraduate degree in business management at the University of San Francisco and masters in business administration at St. Mary’s College of California. He is a certified with both the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and with the Information Systems Audit and Control Association’s (ISACA) Certification in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT).

Eric was voted Austin’s 2009 IT Executive of the Year – Public Sector, by the Austin Chapter of the National Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) and is a recipient of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders for 2010.

About ThinOps Consulting

ThinOps Consulting specializes in assisting organizations streamline costs and manage risk associated with IT expenditures with two business units. Business Advisory serves C-level management by assessing where the company is, where the company wants to be, and developing a roadmap to help executive management reach those objectives. Technology Consulting serves IT organizations primarily through virtualization and remote access technologies designed to improve efficiency, lower support costs and ultimately deliver IT as a service.

About efm Events

efm Events, a division of Executive Functions Management, Inc. www.efminc.com is an information technology-focused event management and production company with 18 IT Symposiums across the Midwest and Rocky Mountain Region.

To learn more about the Austin IT Symposium, click here.

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Austin IT Symposium Advisory Board adds one more, Russ Finney, CIO Tokyo Electron

Russ Finney, Vice President and CIO of Tokyo Electron, becomes the latest Advisory Board member for the inaugural Austin IT Symposium.

“We are excited that Russ has decided to join the Advisory Board, his leadership in the local IT community and his experience leading Tokyo Electron’s IT organization will make this first year for the Austin IT Symposium that much better. The first year for any new event can be challenging, but with Andres, Jay and now Russ on board, we are in for an exciting event.” Said Gary Peyton, efm Events.

About Russ Finney

Russ Finney has spent fourteen years as the Vice President & CIO of the US operations of Tokyo Electron, one of the world’s largest semiconductor production equipment manufacturers with a global network of approximately 90 locations in 12 countries in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Russ currently serves on the high tech advisory board of the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s AusTech Alliance. He has also served on the board of the Austin Technology Council. In the past, he served on the National Board of Directors of AITP, and he has been president of both the Houston and Austin AITP Chapters. In 2006, he was named “Austin IT Executive of the Year” by his peers at the annual central Texas Innotech technology conference. Before Tokyo Electron, Russ was an IT Consultant with Ernst & Young. Russ is often quoted in publications such as Computerworld and CIO Magazine.

He is also a frequent industry speaker all over the world and he often gives guest lectures in a university setting. Many of Tokyo Electron’s projects have been noted in industry white papers, and one e-commerce project was the basis of a Harvard Business School case study. Russ is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. As a leading global supplier of semiconductor production equipment, Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL) engages in development, manufacturing, and sales in a wide range of product fields. The company also leverages specialized technologies developed for the semiconductor production equipment market to engage in the area of flat panel display (FPD) production equipment.

About ThinOps Consulting

ThinOps Consulting specializes in assisting organizations streamline costs and manage risk associated with IT expenditures with two business units. Business Advisory serves C-level management by assessing where the company is, where the company wants to be, and developing a roadmap to help executive management reach those objectives. Technology Consulting serves IT organizations primarily through virtualization and remote access technologies designed to improve efficiency, lower support costs and ultimately deliver IT as a service.

About efm Events

efm Events, a division of Executive Functions Management, Inc. www.efminc.com is an information technology-focused event management and production company with 18 IT Symposiums across the Midwest and Rocky Mountain Region.

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Andres Carvallo joins Advisory Board for Austin IT Symposium as Chairman

Today Andres Carvallo, recent Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Grid Net and former CIO of Austin Energy has joined the Advisory Board for the inaugural Austin IT Symposium as board Chairman.

“Andres is part of the fabric of the Austin IT community.  It is great to have him on board as a part of this event.  We are looking for executives with deep experience that have made a difference in their own organizations and that are comfortable sharing those stories as part of this event.  We are off to a good start with Andres and Jay” said Val King with event sponsor, ThinOps Consulting.

About Andres Carvallo

Andres is a well known visionary, author, speaker, and operations expert with 25 years of experience in the energy, wireless, computer and software industries.  Andres is a board member of the Utilities Telecom Council’s Smart Networks Council and an energy and technology advisor to The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Kansas, and The University of California Los Angeles.

Andres was the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Grid Net, a leading real-time smart grid software platform provider. Prior to Grid Net, Andres was for seven years the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Austin Energy, where he was responsible for the utility’s technology vision, planning, development and operations. While at Austin Energy, Andres defined and started promoting the term “Smart Grid” on March 5, 2004, he is the father of the first Smart Grid fully deployed in the U.S., he became the premier Smart Grid industry thought leader, and led a comprehensive and highly lauded technology transformation company-wide.

Prior to Austin Energy, Andres was CEO, EVP, and VP at four other start-ups, President & General Manager at Philips Consumer Communications, General Manager at Digital Equipment Corporation, General Manager at Borland, Product Manager at SCO, and Product Manager for Windows at Microsoft. His successes have been recognized with 22 industry awards, including being named 2009 CIO of the Year by Energy Central.  He is also the co-author of three books: Information Technology Leadership, CTO Best Practices, and The Advanced Smart Gird.  Andres received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas with a concentration in Robotics and Control Systems. Andres has also completed executive management programs at the University of Idaho, Stanford University, and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

About ThinOps Consulting

ThinOps Consulting specializes in assisting organizations streamline costs and manage risk associated with IT expenditures with two business units.  Business Advisory serves C-level management by assessing where the company is, where the company wants to be, and developing a roadmap to help executive management reach those objectives.  Technology Consulting serves IT organizations primarily through virtualization and remote access technologies designed to improve efficiency, lower support costs and ultimately deliver IT as a service.

About efm Events

efm Events, a division of Executive Functions Management, Inc. www.efminc.com is an information technology-focused event management and production company with 18 IT Symposiums across the Midwest and Rocky Mountain Region.

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Austin IT Symposium – Behind the Scenes

I am working with Gary Peyton at efm Events to help bring the Austin IT Symposium to life.  efm Events did a similar event in San Antonio in late 2010 that Jay was apart of.

I was not a lot of help, but Jay was a great resource for efm and one of the reasons Austin is getting a shot at building its own Executive IT Symposium.

My job now is to inform the general IT community about the event and to help find more great people for our Advisory Board, the break out sessions and the CIO panel that closes the event .

The Advisory Board is a very important part of this event.  Our Advisory Board adds credibility to the event, helps shape the agenda and keeps us focused on creating breakout sessions that address some of the problems that are top-of-mind in the IT community today.

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Jay Kerley, Deputy CIO – Applied Materials joins Advisory Board for Austin IT Symposium

efm Events and Symposium sponsor, ThinOps Consulting, today announced that Jay Kerley, Corporate Vice President and Deputy CIO of Applied Materials has joined the Advisory Board for the inaugural Austin IT Symposium.

“To bring maximum value, this Symposium has to have a solid Advisory Board.  Veteran IT executives like Jay help guide the event and work with us to make sure the topics we are discussing in the Symposium are front-of-mind issues for the executives in attendance” said Gary Payton of efm Events.

“We are looking forward to working with Jay to make this inaugural event in Austin a success” said Tom Moreno, CEO of ThinOps Consulting.

About Jay Kerley

As Corporate Vice President and Deputy CIO of Applied Materials, Jay Kerley has responsibility for Global Information Services strategy, planning, operations, infrastructure, and development.

He has 20 years of industry experience across business verticals including pharmaceutical R&D, global logistics and high-tech leading IT transformation and globalization. Kerley co-led Applied’s IT Transformation, consolidating 17 decentralized IT groups into one, shifting contextual work to strategic managed service partners, and reducing the number of venders from 50 to two.

Prior to joining Applied Materials in 2006, Kerley led Global Operations and M&A Integration for DHL Americas.  In 2009, he was named to CIO magazine’s One’s to Watch list and honored for his role as a change agent.

About ThinOps Consulting

ThinOps Consulting specializes in assisting organizations streamline costs and manage risk associated with IT expenditures with two business units.  Business Advisory serves C-level management by assessing where the company is, where the company wants to be, and developing a roadmap to help executive management reach those objectives.  Technology Consulting serves IT organizations primarily through virtualization and remote access technologies designed to improve efficiency, lower support costs and ultimately deliver IT as a service.

About efm Events

efm Events, a division of Executive Functions Management, Inc. www.efminc.com is an information technology-focused event management and production company with 18 IT Symposiums across the Midwest and Rocky Mountain Region.

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